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Article Archive › The Who In New York (1967)

The Who In New York

Originally published in Hit Parader (September 1967)

by Keith Altham,

That well-known demolition squad - The Who - recently returned from nine "smashing" days on a Murray the K "endurance test" at the New York RKO Radio Theatre (other non-combatants included Wilson Pickett, Mitch Ryder and The Cream) where they contrived to destroy everything on stage to the tunes of "My Generation" and "I Can't Explain."

Now that some of the dust and debris have settled, I talked to bombardier Pete Townshend who issued a full report on the damage and revealed news of their next record "Pictures Of Lily."

"We worked hard on 'propaganda' for the first three days and I had two stock quotes which everyone wrote down," said Pete.

"They were 'we want to leave a wound' and 'we won't let our music stand in the way of our visual act!'

"At the press reception, I walked around in an electric jacket with flashing light bulbs which proved to be something of an anti-climax because a girl had appeared on TV recently with a dress on the same principle. Reporters kept asking me where I had got my copy from and I said, 'It's psychedelic and it cost $200 and it's supposed to blow yer mind!'

"We were to have an Ed Sullivan TV show but the news readers were out on strike and as artists we were expected to support their action - so no show.

"Once in the theatre for the Murray the K show you are virtually trapped for the day and the show goes on continuously with artists appearing one after the other on a conveyor-belt system.

"Originally we were supposed to do four numbers but we complained and said it was impossible to put the act over with only four numbers, so they cut out two!

"Someone had to cut their act because the show was running over, so we volunteered.

"Murray the K's wife was on the program. She appeared about ten times in a fashion spot with teenybopper girl models - Jackie the K and her fabulous fashion show.

"The most presentable of the models was a girl called 'Joy Bang,' who took a liking to Keith which I think was mutual until she said, 'You must meet my husband, Paul Bang!'

"We really worked the destruction bit to a fine art in our spot. I developed a great thing where I hit myself on the head with my guitar which had absolutely no visual impact but made me see stars and I thought - 'That's nice!'

"At one time I noticed Keith throwing his big bass drum at me with the spike protruding and Roger hurling the mikestand at me from another direction.

"I made myself very thin and the mike shattered to pieces in front of me while the spike from the drum ripped my shirt down the back. The stage hands got tired of sweeping up the equipment and went on strike.

"Most of the things we broke had to be repaired by us afterwards for the next house - I discovered Fender guitars are very strong and cheap out in the U.S.

"We shared a dressing room with a group called the 'Hardly Moving Players' who did satirical sketches and were nice people. Below us The Cream and The Blues Magoos played whining guitars all afternoon until Pete and Keith retaliated for about three hours by going through the entire Shadows' repertoire.

"Occasionally we went outside and allowed ourselves to be torn apart and sign autographs which wasn't so bad because the kids give it back to you by storming the stage during the act.

"The only club I liked was one called The Scene where a man called Tiny Tim plays ukulele and sings, 'He's Got The Whole World In His Hands,' and when anyone applauds, he whoops like a Red Indian.

"I'm trying to get him signed up with our recording company!"

A few words on the new single.

"I submitted three songs and 'Pictures Of Lily' was the most obvious hit. It's all about a boy who can't sleep at night, so his dad gives him some dirty pictures to look at.

"Then he falls in love with the girl in the pictures, which is too bad because she is dead."

Follow that!

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