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Guitar and Pen
See Me, Feel Me
A Legal Matter
A Word about Copyrights
History of The Who › 1971-1974
project was unveiled January 13 at the Young Vic Theatre in south
London. He called it "Lifehouse" and it was set in the future at a
months-long rock concert where all but the attendees would be connected
via a kind of virtual reality within "experience suits." Those at the
concert would have special music composed for each of them by a
computer fed with their personal statistics. All of it would lead to
"The Note" that would make everyone disappear. The Who would set up at
the Young Vic and the project would begin.
The band was
confused. Would they get to go home? Did Pete really think they were all
going to disappear? Pete couldn't get his ideas across to the band so they
decamped for New York where manager Kit Lambert, who had straightened
out the story of
Tommy, would explain Pete's idea to the band. However, when they got
there, Pete discovered Kit was sabotaging Lifehouse behind his back, afraid Pete's new project would threaten
Kit's ability to become writer and director of the
movie. The betrayal caused Pete to have a nervous breakdown. He
abandoned the project, flew back to England and presented his demos for
Lifehouse to producer Glyn Johns.
The Who performing the songs, threw out the plot and pieced the tracks
together into one killer album,
released in August. It was soon declared The Who's masterpiece and provided three Who
tracks, "Baba O'Riley," "Behind Blue Eyes," and "Won't Get Fooled Again,"
that became the group's best-known songs.
John Entwistle, writing song after song and having no outlet for them,
released the first Who solo album, Smash Your Head Against The Wall
on May 14. It was the beginning of a sideline that would take up more of the Who's members' time as the group's albums became
The Who began to slow down. An attempt to turn Lifehouse into an
ordinary movie collapsed. A May 1972 album, again with Glyn Johns, was
abandoned and a couple of the tracks were released as the singles "Join
Together" (June 16) and "Relay" (November 25). For the first time since
1967, The Who did not launch an American tour. John released a 2nd solo
album, Whistle Rymes [sic] November 3rd and Pete gathered some demos and tracks from the Meher Baba
devotional albums he had worked on to release an album under his name, Who
Came First, September 29th.
The year ended
with an orchestral production of
the London Symphony Orchestra. As a lark, The Who were involved as
vocalists. The success of the venture led the producers of the
orchestral recording to start a push to get a film made of the
on the solo bandwagon in the new year with the self-titled Daltrey,
released April 20. Managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp belittled
Roger's album, leading the singer to wonder what the two were doing to
earn their percentage. He initiated an audit of their books.
meanwhile, was working on a new piece. Originally a musical history of
the band, the project turned into the story of a Mod fan of the Who in
1964 who undergoes a crisis of identity. Recording of the new work,
began that May with Pete handling the production after Kit Lambert proved
unequal to the task. The massive and complex
work was recorded in quadraphonic sound in a brand-new, half-completed
studio built for the band.
pressures began to take their toll on The Who. Keith Moon's stormy marriage collapsed right after the
album's completion and his wild lifestyle quickly escalated into
self-destructive excesses. At the same time, Roger struck right at the
heart of the organization that had made them all rock stars, presenting
the band with evidence of malfeasance by their managers and demanding
they be replaced. Pete, who still felt loyal to Lambert and Stamp, did everything he could to slow
Roger down and tension began to build between the two.
|Additional antagonism was caused by the
new album, released October 26. Since MCA's quadraphonic format
was poor, Quadrophenia was reduced to stereo and Roger
hated the result, feeling Pete had buried his voice under thick
layers of synthesizers. Rehearsals for the tour turned violent
as a drunken Pete got into a fight with Roger and
was promptly knocked out by him. Nothing worked better once the band
made it onto the road. The new work, performed onstage with
elaborate backing tapes, proved unwieldy and songs were dropped with
almost every concert. Then on the first show of the U.S. tour November
20, Keith passed out from PCP he had taken. A substitute from the
audience, Scott Halpin, was brought up to play drums for the rest of the
show. To top it off, the entire band was thrown into jail in Montreal
after Keith and Pete destroyed a hotel room.
photo: Michael Zagaris
|As soon as
Pete returned from the tour, he had to begin work on the soundtrack for
the movie of
Direction had been handed over to the radical English director Ken
Russell who imposed his strong and often outrageous style on the opera.
The problems mounted swiftly. Keith was not available for most of the
soundtrack sessions as he was acting in another movie, so Pete had to
bring in replacement drummers, most notably former Faces member Kenney
Jones. Then, at the insistence of the director and studio, actors who
couldn't sing, like Oliver Reed and Jack Nicholson, were given roles and
Pete had to coach them through their vocal performances. Once the
production was finished, Russell demanded re-writes and re-recording of
sections of the opera to fit changes in editing. It was enough to drive
Pete to drink.
And drink he
did, suffering memory blackouts by that summer. John and Keith were not
far behind in booze consumption and it began to affect the quality of The Who's live
performances as was sometimes evident at their May 18 show at Charlton Football
Stadium. The combination of alcohol and stress caused Pete to suffer a
mini-breakdown during the first night of a four-night stand at Madison
Square Garden June 10. For the first time, he felt he was just going
through the motions onstage and began to wonder whether The Who had
reached the end.
|Looking back at what The Who had been was
also the subject of that year's Who album,
Sods, a collection of Who outtakes
assembled by John. Released October 4, it would be the last Who disc on Lambert and
Stamp's Track Records label.