Personalities | The Who | Rock Gods (1974) | Key Events
Tour Of France
The year kicked off with the Tommy film soundtrack recording sessions at Ramport. In February these were interrupted by a six-date tour of France, where The Who were supported by long-term Townshend cohort Speedy Keene. On the second date, the doors to the venue had to be opened eight hours early because of the pressure on them from the swell of the crowd, which had already been queuing for hours for the best positions. Only nine songs from Quadrophenia remained in the act, and this tour would be the last time it would feature so heavily for 22 years.
Filming Begins On Tommy
During preparations for the film of Tommy Pete Townshend immersed himself in the role of musical director, which exacerbated his drinking habits. On 14 April he performed a solo charity show at the Roundhouse, his first public appearance outside the confines of the band. Ken Russell began filming Tommy on 22 April at Harefield Grove, Middlesex, and continued until August. This included a specially arranged concert sequence in May at the King’s Theatre, Portsmouth, for the ‘Pinball Wizard’ scene. The band would return to Portsmouth later that month to play a full concert as a thank you to the students who had appeared in the film.
Charlton Football Ground
Filming had taken up much of the year, but The Who decided to return to the live scene with a performance at Charlton Athletic Football Club on 18 May, where Alan Curbishley – brother of the band’s manager Bill – was a player. Billed as Summer of 74, the all-day event attracted a huge audience. The official limit was set at 50,000 but, due to security problems, more than twice that amount crammed into the valley-like amphitheatre. The performance was filmed by the BBC and an edit was shown on 2nd House, a new arts programme hosted by Melvyn Bragg.
Madison Square Garden
The Who also snatched some time between filming Tommy to visit New York, their first attendance there in three years, where they played four shows at Madison Square Garden. As far as the band members were concerned, the Charlton show had been a lacklustre affair, and Townshend in particular had suffered, feeling little more than a caricature of his former self. The NYC shows did little to assuage his or the rest of the band’s feelings. The penultimate gig finished chaotically, with the audience ready to riot. And the final show saw Townshend smashing three guitars – graciously allowing Moon the pleasure of a fourth.
Odds And Sods
With Townshend and Daltrey fully occupied on Tommy, the rhythm section found themselves with time on their hands. Keith Moon recreated his role as J.D. Clover for the film Stardust, and decided to relocate to LA with trusty sidekick ‘Dougal’ Butler. John Entwistle stayed at home to work on a collection of rarities entitled Odds And Sods, which he completed in July. The album was...
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