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December 2009 (5 years ago)

New album releases: Relapse: Refill - Eminem; Stronger With Each Tear - Mary J. Blige; Sex Therapy - Robin Thicke; The Element of Freedom - Alicia Keys
Railway Hotel Plaque Railway Hotel Plaque

On the 12th, a blue plaque is placed at the site of the Railway Hotel in Harrow commemorating where Pete Townshend first smashed a guitar. Members of the Harrow Council place the plaque on the site of a public housing block erected on the site of the Railway Hotel that burned down in 2000. The housing block's name is "Daltrey House".

On the 20th, the Italian rock group Sista releases their album Rock and Roll Juice featuring a cover of "My Generation".

Greatest Hits GeffenGreatest Hits Geffen

On the 21st, Geffen Records releases Greatest Hits, the latest Who compilation. It reaches #12 in the U.K. and #56 on the U.S. Billboard charts.

Shortly before Christmas, Roger Daltrey secretly enters the Mass General Voice Center in Boston for surgery. Dr. Steven Zeitels who performs the surgery had discovered pre-cancerous growths on Roger's vocal chords. Using an experimental technique, Dr. Zeitels rebuilds Roger's vocal chords but afterwards Roger goes through a terrible two weeks before he is allowed to try them out and see if he can still speak, much less sing. "I had two weeks of silence. Silence and no drinking. How's that for a good Christmas?" Naturally, a planned appearance by Roger on Jools Holland's New Year's Hootenanny is cancelled.

December 2004 (10 years ago)

New album releases: The Red Light District - Ludacris; Live from Under the Brooklyn Bridge - U2; Get LIfted - John Legend; The Mind of Mannie Fresh - Mannie Fresh

On the 11th, Pino Palladino is presented with the 'Contribution to the Music Industry' Award at the Pop Factory Music Awards in his home country of Wales. Pete provides a video tribute to Pino which is played at the ceremony.

Roger Daltrey Top GearRoger Daltrey Top Gear

On the 12th, Roger is the star in the reasonably priced car on the Top Gear television programme. Roger is the fastest driver to that time on the test track in 'mildly moist' conditions.

Quarwood Quarwood

John Entwistle's former home Quarwood, near Stow-on-the-Wold, is sold for more than £3 million to a mystery buyer.

On the 30th, Roger makes it onto the Queen's New Year's Honours list. He is named a Commander of the British Empire for his charity work with the Teenage Cancer Trust.

December 1999 (15 years ago)

New album releases: At the Heart of Winter - Immortal; Kaleidoscope - Kelis; Don't Mind If I Do - Culture Club; ...And Then There Was X - DMX
1999 Pete Townshend BBC interview 1999 Pete Townshend BBC interview

In the run-up to the premiere of his radio play of Lifehouse, Pete does a couple of interviews, appearing on Radio 2's The Steve Wright Show on the 2nd and BBC Hard Talk on the 3rd.

1999 Messiah concert1999 Messiah concert

On the 4th and 5th, Roger performs in a rock 'n' roll version of Handel's "Messiah" in Dublin. Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight and actor Adian Quinn also participate and the show airs on Ireland's RTE. A storm of controversy swirls around it due to the amount of government grant money used to stage the production. In fact, the cost is so high, the production fails to raise projected money intended for charity.

Also on the 4th, ITV airs an episode of its Classic Albums series focusing on the recording of Who's Next. The excellent documentary is made with the participation of Pete, Roger and John who discuss the album's background and revisit the master tapes. The show is subsequently released for home video.

1999 Radio Times 1999 Radio Times

On the 5th, Pete's radio version of Lifehouse premieres on BBC Radio 3. Heavily re-written by Pete and Jeff Young from Pete's 1971 conception, the story is now set at the millennium as a farmer leaves his wife to search for his runaway daughter in London. He is accompanied by himself as a young boy and an imaginary playfriend from childhood on a voyage that takes them through the scarred landscape of a post-World War II and post-Thatcher Britain. His daughter, meanwhile, hooks up with a "hacker" who leads her and many others to the Lifehouse where they vanish, leaving the farmer alone, stripped of his family, in an teenage-less wasteland. The musical accompaniment is a mix of Pete's demos and orchestrated versions of tunes from Who's Next and Vivaldi. The script is published the next day by Simon & Schuster in the U.K. and the play is sold first as a two-cassette tape from the BBC then included in Pete's Lifehouse Chronicles boxset.

On the 6th, an exhibit of the artwork connected with Pete's Avatar boxset is exhibited at the Corningsby Gallery in London through the 11th. Also on the 6th, Pete places two messages on his website, the first asking for understanding about his changing his mind about the existence of The Who. "I am doing it out of love, friendship and because I think I'm really going to enjoy it." He also clears up the confusing credit for his song "North Country Girl" on his solo album All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes explaining he adapted the song after hearing it on a Roy Harper album where it was credited as "Traditional: arr by Roy Harper".

Guitar Dec. 1999Guitar Dec. 1999

On the 7th, John is voted Bass Guitarist of the Millennium by readers of the British magazine Guitar. On the same day a press report is released that details Pete's 3-year relationship with the 26 year-old musician Rachel Fuller.

On the 15th, Pete premeires his commercial website where he will begin selling his solo albums.

The Who at Shepherd's Bush 1999 The Who at Shepherd's Bush 1999

On the 22nd and 23rd, the new edition of the five-man Who makes its British premiere as The Who play their home ground at the Shepherd's Bush Empire.

Roger is scheduled to perform with the British Rock Symphony on New Year's Eve as the 1900's turn into the 2000's at a charity event at The Ronald Reagan Building in Washington D.C. but it is canceled due to fears of a terrorist attack.

December 1994 (20 years ago)

New album releases: Vitology - Pearl Jam; Second Coming - The Stone Roses; Sixteen Stone - Bush; The Sweetest Days - Vanessa Williams

MCA Records announces that the recently released 30 Years of Maximum R&B boxset will soon be followed by a complete revamping of The Who's back catalog beginning with Live At Leeds.

On the 17th, Roger appears on the Channel 4 show Don't Forget Your Toothbrush performing "Pinball Wizard" and "I'm A Man".

December 1989 (25 years ago)

New album releases: Monty Python Sings - Monty Python; Labour of Love II - UB40; Surprise - Better Than Ezra; Digitalian is eating breakfast - Tetsuya Komuro
The Who Live 1989 laserdisc The Who Live 1989 laserdisc

The video The Who Live featuring the rock opera 'Tommy' is released. It features an edited version of The Who's August 24th, 1989 performance at the Universal Amphitheatre and will prove to be one of the biggest sellers The Who have in any medium.

December 1984 (30 years ago)

New album releases: Beverly Hills Cop/Original Soundtrack; Real Live - Bob Dylan; In the Eye of the Storm - Roger Hodgson; Fantastic Boney M. - Boney M.

On the 7th, British newspapers report that Pete has admitted to damaging an 18th-century bridge in a barge collision the previous year. He is billed £4,000. Also, Melody Maker later reports that Pete was to have performed at a benefit for Ethiopia at the Royal Albert Hall on this date but couldn't make it due to recording conflicts for his White City album/film.

Rolling Stone reports that Pete has dropped Nick Lowe as the producer for his White City album and has instead enlisted Empty Glass producer Chris Thomas.

On the 14th, Pete records the "experiment" "Commonwealth Boys" for the White City album. The backing track is later used for the song "Come To Mama." The original recording is later released on Scoop 3.

December 1979 (35 years ago)

New album releases: London Calling - The Clash; Adventures in Utopia - Utopia; On Parole - Motörhead; Sid Sings - Sid Vicious
1979 Pittsburgh poster 1979 Pittsburgh poster

The Who's 1979 North American tour continues on the 2nd at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena.

Who Cincinnati ticketWho Cincinnati ticket

On the 3rd, The Who arrive at Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati around 6pm and begin a sound check. Outside the thousands of people that make up the general admission audience have been outside for hours in the freezing cold packed against the few doors that are scheduled to be opened at 7pm. When some members of the crowd hear The Who's soundcheck they begin to push harder and harder on the crowd yelling "One, two, three, push!" The pressure grows to a level that some in the crowd can no longer take in air. Anyone who falls has the crowd forced over them, crushing them underfoot. Those few who know what is happening and can escape run to the hired security guards only to be rebuffed.

The leader of the security guard requests that the doors be opened to relieve the pressure but the promoter refuses because the sound check isn't over and there aren't enough ticket takers. At 7:15, four doors are opened but most of the time two of the doors are blocked by security guards. The pushing grows even stronger into the tight bottleneck as the tickets are slowly gathered and the crowd races into the arena. The first body is found at 7:54pm.

Cincinnati paramedics treat victims Cincinnati paramedics treat victims
Photo: Jack Klumpe

Ambulances and firetrucks are brought in. As there are few marks on the bodies, the medical crews incorrectly suspect drug overdoses. It is almost an hour before news filters backstage to The Who's manager Bill Curbishley about the tragedy outside. The fire marshal wants the concert stopped but Curbishley refuses fearing that a cancellation would spark a riot or send the crowd rushing back over the plaza where the wounded are being treated.

The Who leave CincinnatiThe Who leave Cincinnati
Photo: Nick Allen

The Who go on, unaware of what has occured outside. By the end of the show Curbishley has been told that eleven fans have died. He tells The Who that something serious has happened and to hurry the encore. When they come backstage again Curbishley breaks the news to them. Roger begins to cry, the rest are silent and stunned.

11 Die In Rock Frenzy 11 Die In Rock Frenzy

The next morning The Who hold a short press conference before heading to their next show. Roger does most of the speaking. Fighting back tears, he defends The Who against charges that their stage show is violent and denies that The Who had anything to do with security and the opening of too few doors that he blames for the tragedy. By late that evening and the next day, video of the carnage is airing on news around the world. While Variety magazine blames the tragedy on the large number of unreserved seats, Cincinnati's local television station, with no evidence, calls it a "stampede" by a drug-crazed mob fueled by rock music and this is reported as fact by Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News and by The New York Times.

At the next night's show at Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, the security staff is doubled and doors are opened three hours before the concert. Roger says from the stage "You all know what happened yesterday. There's nothing we can do. We feel totally shattered but life goes on. We lost a lot of family yesterday and this show's for them." Pete later reports that it was at the Buffalo show that he first met and made friends with then rock promoters and future movie moguls Bob and Harvey Weinstein.

On the 6th, the day of the next show at the Richfield, Ohio Coliseum, The Christian Science Monitor reports that Boston city officials have decided to allow The Who's concert of the 16th to take place. The governments of each city where the tour is headed hold meetings to decide whether The Who should be allowed to play. Ultimately only the show in Providence, Rhode Island is canceled.

1979 Philadelphia button1979 Philadelphia button

On the 7th, The Who return to the Pontiac Silverdome, then go on the 8th to the Chicago International Amphitheatre where, due to ticket demand, the concert is shown on closed-circuit in local theaters. The videotape of the show is released on DVD in 2007 as a bonus to the Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who DVD. The 10th and 11th is spent at the Philadelphia Spectrum. Both shows are again shown live on closed-circuit television in local theaters and are professionally recorded. These recordings were to have made up the bulk of Who's Last before that version is rejected by MCA. The only release from this show to date is a 1988 issue of "Dancing In The Street/Dance It Away".

On the 10th, The Who are informed that the readers of Rolling Stone have voted them the best band of 1979.

On the 12th, the initial report of the Cincinnati inquiry is released. It blames the late opening of too few doors, inadequate security and the festival seating format.

On the 13th The Who play the Capital Center outside Washington, D.C., the New Haven Coliseum on the 15th (seventy concert goers are arrested during the show), the Boston Garden on the 16th, and back to the Capital Center on the 17th, a show added to make up for the cancellation of the Providence show.

Dave Worrall in Movie Maker magazine tells of a previous movie of Quadrophenia, a feature-length 8mm film called "For A Moment" in 1974 that used the original album as the soundtrack. It later won several film contest awards.

Secret Policeman's Ball UK LP Secret Policeman's Ball UK LP

The Secret Policeman's Ball (The Music) LP is released in Britain with live acoustic guitar performances by Pete of "Pinball Wizard", "Drowned" and with classical guitarist John Williams, "Won't Get Fooled Again". It does not make the charts. The accompanying movie premieres on television in the U.K. on the 22nd.

Having returned to England and now living on his own in his Eel Pie studio offices, Pete records the song "Dirty Water" on cassette. It is released on the B-side to "Bargain" in 1983 and later on Scoop 3.

Who Time coverWho Time cover

On the 17th, The Who make their one appearance on the cover of Time magazine. The article deals more with The Who's place in rock than the Cincinnati tragedy. Author Jay Cocks says "no other group has ever pushed rock so far, or asked so much from it."

On the 19th the survivors of the Cincinnati tragedy file a $27 million dollar lawsuit against the Electric Factory who were the concert's promoters, the city of Cincinnati and The Who.

Who Kampuchea Who Kampuchea
Photo: Ross Halfin

The Who re-emerge on the 28th to headline the third night of the Concerts For Kampuchea benefit at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. Pete bangs his guitar at the beginning of "Baba O'Riley" and is completely out of tune for the entire song. Oddly, it is later chosen to be the lead track of the 1981 Concerts For The People Of Kampuchea album. The show is also filmed and parts of it are shown in a television special. "Behind Blue Eyes" is later released on the 30 Years Of Maximum R&B video. The entire performance is also released on bootlegs.

79-12-28 Townshend McCartney79-12-28 Townshend McCartney

The next day Pete is required to show up for the end of the last night's concert as part of Paul McCartney's Rockestra. He gets there way too early and ends up spending the day in a pub. By evening he is completely sloshed and refuses to put on the silver lamé jacket everyone else in Paul's Rockestra is asked to wear.

Won't Get Fooled Again, a 45-minute profile of The Who airs on select ITV stations in Britain.

December 1974 (40 years ago)

New album releases: Dark Horse - George Harrison; Relayer - Yes; So What - Joe Walsh
Two Sides Of The Moon Publicity Two Sides Of The Moon Publicity
Photo: JimMcCrary

On the 5th, Keith Moon, his girlfriend Annette and his aide Dougal Butler are photographed for the cover of Keith's forthcoming solo album. The shoot by photographer Jim McCrary takes place at Universal Studios in Hollywood.

Keith assembles a group of celebrities in Los Angeles, including Larry Hagman, to sing "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" with each celebrity singing one word only. It is never released.

The Ox Extend TourThe Ox Extend Tour

On the 8th, John premiers his solo group The Ox at the City Hall in Newcastle upon Tyne. Only 300 people show up. Despite the turnout, John and The Ox play two more U.K. dates, appearing at the Odeon Theatre in Southport on the 13th and the City Hall in Sheffield on the 17th. On the 14th, Chris Charlesworth reports on the band in Melody Maker in an article entitled "Entwistle's £25,000 hobby."

Odds And Sods Gold Odds And Sods Gold

On the 9th, Odds & Sods is certified gold by the RIAA.

Dougal Butler has the first of his major fallings-out with Keith and leaves him in Los Angeles to care for himself. Naturally, Keith fails to do anything of the sort.

After months of grueling work with the movie's editors, Pete finishes all the post-production recording for Tommy: The Movie.

December 1969 (45 years ago)

New album releases: Let It Bleed - The Rolling Stones; Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5 - The Jackson 5; Grand Funk - Grand Funk Railroad; Okie From Muskogee - Merle Haggard and The Strangers

The Who stage a few concerts ahead of their big show at the London Coliseum. On the 4th, they play the Hippodrome Theatre in Bristol. The show is disrupted when two smoke bombs are hurled on stage forcing The Who to temporarily leave the stage. The next night they are at the Palace in Manchester and the 12th finds them at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool. All the shows are filmed and recorded as back up for the Coliseum, but it is doubtful that the footage still exists.

On the 4th, Disc magazine reports that The Who are planning to turn Tommy into an animated film. George Dunning, the man behind the Beatles' Yellow Submarine movie, sees Tommy as a possible cartoon follow-up. The magazine also reports plans to stage a Tommy ballet.

On the 6th, Speight Jenkins reviews The Who's Tommy performance at The Fillmore East the previous October in Opera News Magazine. He gives it a generally favorable review, but says it sounds more like an oratorio than an opera. He adds that the music was much too loud, feels the opera's music is not as original as The Beatles' songs, and that Tommy lacks the emotions of a traditional opera libretto.

1969 Coliseum Flyer 1969 Coliseum Flyer

On the 14th, The Who play their opera at The Coliseum in London's Covent Garden. The entire concert is recorded and filmed but rejected as the lack of proper film lighting produces a very dark image. The footage is re-discovered years later by Jeff Stein while seeking Who film for The Kids Are Alright and "Young Man Blues" is included in that movie. The entire concert is released in 2008 on the DVD The Who: Kilburn 1977. Denied the privilege of performing their rock opera at London's Sadler's Wells, The Who still get a post-show party at the venue thrown by Who manager Kit Lambert with guests "Legs" Larry Smith of the Bonzo Dog Band, Jimmy McCulloch of Thunderclap Newman and the American band The Rascals.

Keith Moon John Lennon picture sleeveKeith Moon John Lennon picture sleeve

Keith and "Legs" are two of the many people roped into performing on the 15th at the Lyceum Ballroom in London as part of a UNICEF benefit titled "Peace For Christmas". Topping the bill is John Lennon and Yoko Ono, then in the middle of their "War Is Over" campaign and the breakup of The Beatles. Also appearing in the all-star band is George Harrison, Eric Clapton, the Delaney & Bonnie Band, Klaus Voorman, Bobby Keys, Billy Preston, Jim Gordon and another drummer to play along with Keith, Alan White. The superband, given practically no rehearsal time, mostly indulges in lengthy jams. Two of these, "Cold Turkey" sung by John and "Don't Worry Kyoko" sung by Yoko, are released three years later on the John & Yoko album Some Time In New York City.

This month, Pete moves the London Meher Baba Information Centre to his wife Karen's old flat in Eccleston Square.

On the 16th, The Who rehearse and record an appearance on the BBC1 TV programme Pop Goes The Sixties miming to "I Can See For Miles." The show airs at 10:40pm on New Year's Eve.

On the 17th, Variety has the article: "Hint The Who may be new leader of Britain's pop cult" naming The Who the Beatles' successors in the category of intellectual rock.

1969 Newcastle ad 1969 Newcastle ad

On the 19th, The Who film and record another concert, this one at City Hall in Newcastle.

On the 27th, Billboard magazine declares Tommy the 34th Top LP of 1969. Number one is Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.

December 1964 (50 years ago)

New records: Beatles For Sale and Beatles '65 - The Beatles; "My Girl" - The Temptations; "Ferry 'Cross the Mersey" - Gerry and the Pacemakers; "Heart of Stone" - The Rolling Stones
7 Dec 1964 ad 7 Dec 1964 ad

The Who begin their last month before they smash their way into national consciousness playing their second Tuesday at the Marquee Club in London on the 1st. 298 attend, 10 times as many as the previous week. Other Marquee dates are the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th. The Sneakers open for them at all dates except the 29th when The Boys open.

14 Dec 1964 ad14 Dec 1964 ad

Other places to find this up-and-coming band are the Florida Room at the Aquarium in Brighton on Wednesdays (2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd) and The Red Lion in Leytonstone on Mondays (14th, 21st, 28th).

12 Dec 1964 ad

On the 12th, The Who play a Student's Christmas Dance at Keith's old alma mater Harrow Technical College in London. Cathy McGowan, host of Ready Steady GO! sees the band here for the first time.

I Can't Explain review VarietyI Can't Explain review Variety

Tape copies of The Who's November recordings "I Can't Explain" and "Bald-Headed Woman" reach Decca in the U.S. by early this month. They press up promo copies and send them out to reviewers. The first appears in Variety on the 16th followed by Cash Box on the 19th. Variety calls "I Can't Explain" a "typical rocking entry with a good sound." Cash Box gets confused, assuming "Bald-Headed Woman" is the A-side, and dismisses "I Can't Explain" as "an attention-getting shuffle-rock'er."

The latter half of the month sees The Who at these extra dates, the Waterfront Club at the Cliff Hotel in Southampton (18th), the Xmas Ball at the London College of Printing (19th), the Galaxy Club at the Town Hall in Basingstoke, Hampshire (Boxing Day), the Ealing Club (27th), and a New Year's Eve Dance at Pinner in Middlesex.

December 1959 (55 years ago)

Hot new singles: "Chipmunk Song" - David Seville and the Chipmunks, "Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop" - Little Anthony & The Imperials, "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans" - Freddie Cannon; "Running Bear" - Johnny Preston
Keith Moon report cardKeith Moon report card

On Keith's end-of-term report card, one teacher warns he has "great ability but must guard against tendency to show off."

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As always, thanks to John Atkins, Richard Barnes, Kevin Berger, Chris Charlesworth, Alan Clayson, Tony Fletcher, Ed Hanel, Gary Herman, Joe Giorgianni, Bruce Kawakami, Matt Kent, Max Ker-Seymer, Karen Kimber, Olle Lundin, "Irish Jack" Lyons, Dave Marsh, Alan McKendree, Joe McMichael, Andrew Motion, Andy Neill, Scott Smith, Christian Suchatzki, John Swenson, George Tremlett, Richie Unterberger, Dave van Staveren, Mark Ian Wilkerson, Stephen Wolter and all the others who did the original research and provided the aid that led to this page.

A note about photographs: None of the photographs used on this site are by purchase agreement with the original photographer. I try to credit when I can discover the name of the original photographer but, in most case, sources in newspapers, old copies of Creem Magazine, and even some Who books, do not credit photographers. If you are the photographer or represent the photographer and you do not want your photograph posted, please get in touch and I will remove it immediately. This is a wholly non-profit site (if you could see my bank account, you'd know it's quite the opposite!) established to provide an historical overview of The Who.