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Updated Sep. 9, 2021

January 1968

New music releases: "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" - Otis Redding; The Graduate - Simon & Garfunkel/Dave Grusin; "Love is Blue (L'amour est bleu)" - Paul Mauriat and His Orchestra; Lady Soul - Aretha Franklin

On the 4th, The Who head into CBS Studios, London to record Pete's new composition "Faith In Something Bigger." It is the first of Pete's songs inspired by his recent reading of The God-Man, a book about the Indian mystic Meher Baba. The song is intended for the next album but remains unreleased for almost seven years. On the 5th, comes a track that sees vinyl much sooner. John's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," inspired by Keith's erratic personality, is recorded at IBC Studios, London. John later says this song and others he wrote during this period were for a Who children's album planned by manager Kit Lambert.

The Who Sell Out - Billboard Ad The Who Sell Out - Billboard Ad

The music director at New York's WMCA bans The Who Sell Out calling it "disgusting." He decries the album cover as too offensive to be shown to children.




On the 6th, Pete is interviewed in Disc and Music Echo. He says he liked The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour TV special but blames them for leaving younger fans behind: "If you're 13 years old, it's a bit much when the chart is full of 'I Am The Walrus’ which nobody understands."

An all-action climax by The Who An all-action climax by The Who

On the 6th, The Who head out for some club dates in the U.K. with an appearance at the Civic Hall in Nantwich, Cheshire. The 8th sees them at the Silver Blades Ice Rink in Bristol. Twelve months before, The Who had sold out the Locarno Ballroom next door. This time, however, their British popularity has sunk to such a degree that the much smaller ice rink is only two-thirds full. Other dates on this tour are the Brave New World Club in Southsea, Portsmouth (9th), the Assembly Hall in Worthing (11th), the Royal Ballroom in Tottenham (12th) and the Dreamland Ballroom in Margate (13th).

Also on the 13th, "Glow Girl" is recorded at IBC Studios. Written during a near-disastrous plane trip during the previous summer's Herman's Hermits tour, the song is intended as The Who's next single. However, as with "Faith In Something Bigger," it will also remain unreleased for the next seven years. Its closing line, "It's a girl, Mrs. Walker, it's a girl," will appear sooner after a sex change.

And again on the 13th, Pete is also a guest on Jonathan King's ITV programme Good Evening.

Beat Instrumental releases the results of its 1967 Golden Star Awards. The Who come in second as Best Live Act to The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Keith Moon is also no. 2 drummer, losing to Ginger Baker, Pete is 5th Best Songwriter and 7th Best Guitarist, John is 6th Best Bassist and 7th Best Brass or Woodwind Player. Kit Lambert is 7th best Recording Manger and Roger ties for 20th Best Vocalist with Jess Roden and Arthur Brown.

The Who at Sydney Airport The Who at Sydney Airport

On the 18th, The Who begin a 36-hour, five-stop flight from London to Sydney, Australia. Arriving horribly jet-lagged at Mascot Airport in Sydney, The Who are immediately herded into a press conference. With Australia's conservative press raising a stink about long-haired foreigners coming to take money out of Australia's depressed economy, reporters pepper the group with hostile questions. The silent, dazed Who can do little to defend themselves before they are shuttled off for another flight to Brisbane. Joining The Who for the tour are The Small Faces (with drummer Kenney Jones) and Paul Jones, ex-member of Manfred Mann and star of the new musical film Privilege.

The first show of the tour is at Festival Hall in Brisbane, Queensland. The performances go over well with the audience but are belittled in the next day's press ("The Who were guilty of playing down to the yokels").

Air crash lyric may by Who's next single Air crash lyric may by Who's next single

On the same day, back in England, New Musical Express reports that "Glow Girl" will be The Who's next single. Pete mentions "Little Billy," written for the American Cancer Society and, probably referencing "Faith In Something Bigger," says he wants The Who to "preach" on their next album.



On the 21st, The Who get a day off. Roger, Keith and John try water-skiing. Later Keith is given a rental car and, according to Australian tour manager Ron Blackmore, drives it into the lobby of the Park Royal Motel, hands the keys to the bellboy and tells him to park it.

Pete Townshend Sydney 23 Jan. Pete Townshend Sydney 23 Jan.
Photo: Laurie Smith

Sydney Stadium is the next stop on the 22nd and 23rd. The groups play on a revolving stage but the weight of the equipment breaks the mechanism and the view is obscured for two-thirds of the audience. The next night The Who and Small Faces are accused of using foul language on stage and the press demands a police investigation.

During this period Pete and Small Face Ronnie Lane hang out together and discuss mysticism and their mutual interest in the teachings of Meher Baba.




The Who Melbourne 24 Jan. The Who Melbourne 24 Jan.
Photo: Ted Holliday

On the 24th, the tour flies to Essendon Airport in Melbourne, Victoria. A press conference gathers in the VIP lounge. Reporters badger the two groups demanding to know what drugs they had smuggled into the country and what they were high on now. When one reporter gets in Pete's face, Pete punches him.

The audiences are more receptive when The Who play Festival Hall in Melbourne on the 24th and 25th and Pete gets something more from the visit than bad press. A groupie he meets there with a "spiritual presence" inspires him to write a new song called "She's A Sensation," which will make it to Tommy as just "Sensation." Keith isn't so lucky as he and Small Face Steve Marriott barely avoid a beating at the hands of local youths hanging around their hotel.

Pete Townshend escorted by air marshall Pete Townshend escorted by air marshall

On the 27th, The Who plays Centennial Hall in Adelaide, South Australia, the last date of the tour on the continent. However, they are not to escape Australia so easily. A 7am flight to Melbourne (after a night of partying) turns nasty when an air hostess, serving drinks to passengers, refuses to serve the groups. When they demand to know why, she reports them to the pilot and by the time they reach Melbourne, there are two lines of police to escort the group off to a VIP lounge. The pilot of their connecting flight to Sydney refuses to take them onboard and the tour ends up on a chartered plane accompanied by two Department of Civil Aviation officers who keep an eye on them all the way to Sydney. From there they fly to Auckland, New Zealand arriving sixteen hours after they left Adelaide.


Rowdy pop singers ordered from aircraft Rowdy pop singers ordered from aircraft

The next day's Australian press has a field day shouting good riddance to long-haired English rubbish. According to Steve Marriott, as soon as they disembark, Pete grabs a news photographer's camera and smashes it to the ground. Pete quickly announces that he will never set foot in Australia again, a promise he keeps for the next thirty-six years.

At the same time, news breaks in England that Roger's wife Jacqueline is suing him for divorce. Until that time, the public did not know Roger had been married for the last five years or had a four-year old son.

Two shows follow at the Town Hall in Auckland on the 29th. Neither The Who nor The Small Faces can be heard because of the ancient P.A. system used by the hall. Between shows the bands return to their hotel and come close to abandoning the tour with only the thought that they have three more shows left getting the groups to return.

68-01-30 Steve Marriott 68-01-30 Steve Marriott

On the 30th, they fly to Wellington with one day off before their next show. Steve Marriott celebrates his 21st birthday with a party and, when a record player he is given by EMI begins to malfunction, out the hotel window it goes. Soon, with more than a little help from Keith and Who roadie "Wiggy" Wolff, the entire contents of the hotel room are flying out the window to smash in the street below. For now, they all escape by telling the arriving police that someone must have broken in and wrecked the room.



The Who at Town Hall, Wellington The Who at Town Hall, Wellington

The last show of the tour is at the Town Hall in Wellington on the 31st. After the show, Marriott receives a new, high-powered stereo to replace the one "vandals" had destroyed the day before. By 3am he has it cranked up full blast. Keith drops by to admire the work the hotel has done rebuilding the room, grabs an ashtray and sends it flying through the French windows. Once again, Steve, Keith and Wiggy start shoving the TV set through the window and smashing everything in the room. This time the hotel manager catches them in the act. The three miscreants have to pay 781 New Zealand dollars then and there or go to court. Wiggy responds by picking up an antique chair, throwing it through the window, and announcing "Fuck it, let's make it a grand!"

Pete Townshend in Go-Set Magazine Jan. 31, 1968 Pete Townshend in Go-Set Magazine Jan. 31, 1968

Also on the 31st, Go-Set magazine prints Pete's answers to 30 questions. Asked if marijuana should be legalized, he answers no. The former heavy pot-smoker may have changed his mind under the influence of Meher Baba who bans his followers from using L.S.D. or marijuana.

Across the Pacific, Rolling Stone magazine votes The Who the Best Band Of 1967.




February 1968

New music releases: "Honey" - Bobby Goldsboro; "Cry Like a Baby" - The Box Tops; "Valleri" - The Monkees; Child Is Father to the Man - Blood, Sweat & Tears

On the 1st, The Who and The Small Faces begin the long flight back to London from Auckland, New Zealand with stops at Fiji, Honolulu and San Francisco.

The Who Mary Anne Dutch picture sleeve The Who Mary Anne Dutch picture sleeve

On the 2nd, Go magazine has the article: "42 days of Who destruction" on the upcoming U.S. tour. Roger says The Who will keep smashing equipment until they have established themselves in the U.S. On the same day "Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand" backed with "I Can't Reach You" is released in the Netherlands. It fails to chart.



The Truth 6 Feb 1968 The Truth 6 Feb 1968

On the 6th, Paul Rodgers sends The Who off with boos in the New Zealand newspaper The Truth. He says he is "ashamed to have come from the same country as these unwashed, foul-mouthed, booze swilling no-hopers."

Essex U 10 Feb 1968 Essex U 10 Feb 1968

On the 10th, The Who go back to work in their homeland playing a Valentine Ball at Essex University in Colchester, England. They are supported by The Shell Shock Show, Yum Yum Band and Exploding Orange.



1st Amboy Dukes LP 1st Amboy Dukes LP

On the same day the Amboy Dukes (U.S.) have their first album The Amboy Dukes hit the U.S. charts. It features a cover of "It's Not True."









On the 11th, The Who go into IBC Studios to complete the recording of "Glow Girl" as well as recording the backing tracks for "Call Me Lightning" and "Little Billy." That evening they motor out to Crawley to play the Starlite Ballroom. Their supporting group is Jo Jo Gunne.

Pete Townshend during Lone Ranger filming Pete Townshend during Lone Ranger filming
Photo: Chris Morphet

On the 14th, Pete's friend Richard Stanley shoots footage of Pete for his movie Lone Ranger. Pete also provides the soundtrack for the movie.



Rolling Stone publishes an interview with Pete. Pete discusses the song "Faith in Something Bigger" ("but no one will believe we are serious. Can you imagine Roger standing there singing something like that?") and "Glow Girl" that is being considered as The Who's next U.S. single.

On the 16th, The Who play the University in Sheffield with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band opening. This is followed by a show at the Faculty of Technology Union in Manchester on the 17th.

Three weeks after their return from New Zealand, The Who face another long flight to Los Angeles to finish their new single and begin a six-week North American tour. Pete had flown over a few days earlier to meet Rick Chapman, head of Meher Baba Information at Berkeley.

San Jose Feb 21 1968 San Jose Feb 21 1968

On the 21st, the tour begins with a concert at the Civic Auditorium in San Jose, California. Pete arrives after being driven down the coast in Chapman's 1959 Lincoln Continental. Sagittarius and Blue Cheer open the show. Beginning with this concert, The Who introduce extended jams of "Shakin' All Over," "Relax" and "My Generation."

Fillmore West poster Feb 22 1968 Fillmore West poster Feb 22 1968
Poster: Lee Conklin


For the 22nd, The Who head up the coast to play Bill Graham's Fillmore West in San Francisco where a brand new $35,000 P.A. system has been installed. Opening acts are The Nice (taking the place of a last-minute cancellation by The Vagrants) and Cannonball Adderley and his Sextet. It is reported that The Who receive the highest fee yet paid for any artist to perform at this venue. Who manager Kit Lambert flies over from London to supervise recordings of this show and the next two nights for a album to be called The Who - Live At The Fillmore set for release that June.



On the 23rd and 24th The Who show moves over to The Winterland in San Francisco, a move prompted by high-ticket demand.

The Who swing in Griffith Park The Who swing in Griffith Park
Photo: Tom Wright

On the 26th, The Who return to Los Angeles and Gold Star studios to finish recording and mixing "Call Me Lightning" and "Little Billy." Prior to this, they head up to the Hollywood Hills for a photo shoot.






Pete Townshend on set of Call Me Lightning video shoot Pete Townshend on set of Call Me Lightning video shoot
Photo: Tom Wright

Around the same time (probably the 27th), The Who are taken to an abandoned warehouse in Hollywood by director Austin John Marshall who shoots a Monkees-style promo film for "Call Me Lightning" featuring a mechanical Keith being pursued by the other band members. It is later featured in the movie The Kids Are Alright with "Cobwebs and Strange" placed on the soundtrack.











1968-02-27 (?) - Call Me Lightning Promo from thewho.net on Vimeo.
Roger Daltrey and groupie aboard Who bus Roger Daltrey and groupie aboard Who bus
Photo: Tom Wright


On the 28th, The Who and their entourage board a bus for a three-day trip to Canada. Accompanying them is photographer and road manager Tom Wright plus a groupie. The groupie spends most of her time on board having sex with everyone but a reluctant Pete.








March 1968

New music releases: "Lady Madonna" - The Beatles; "Young Girl" - Gary Puckett & The Union Gap; "A Beautiful Morning" - The Rascals; "Time of the Season" - The Zombies

On the 1st, The Who celebrate Roger's 24th birthday on board a bus heading from Los Angeles to Vancouver.

The Who at the Agrodome 1968 The Who at the Agrodome 1968

That night the tour starts off with a blast at The Agrodome in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. After the show, Pete finally gives in to Who peer pressure and has sex with the groupie they brought along for the bus trip. His reward is a guilty conscience and a dose of the clap.



Billboard ad for Call Me Lighting Billboard ad for Call Me Lighting

On the 2nd, "Call Me Lighting" backed with "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is released in the U.S. It will reach #40 in the Billboard charts and #38 in Cash Box. On the same day The Who Sell Out hits its U.S. chart peak at #48.



Pete in Melody Maker 2 Mar 1968 Pete in Melody Maker 2 Mar 1968

On the 2nd, Melody Maker prints a response from Pete to an Australian's letter. Pete says "If Australia thinks it's getting off that easily it's wrong. More, yes many more masochistic, unwashed English beetroots are on the way to name but one. Air hostesses and anyone that knows all the verses of 'Waltzing Matilda' had better hold their noses. Before we know it, we'll be back in the land of opportunity and Fosters lovely lager. No thanks to the humiliation we went through last time. In fact, the promoters have already asked us back. In fact, the Prime Minister himself? In fact, the whole police force of New Zealand would be glad to see us again! Yes? In New Zealand every policeman is your drinking partner. In Australia every hostess is partly drinking. There, there Australia. If we can bind our woulds, you can bind yours. See you soon." On the same date Record Mirror says The Who will host a weekly television show called "Sound and Picture City" for the BBC. Each episode will feature a new song.

Review of The Who in Edmonton 1968 Review of The Who in Edmonton 1968

Also on the 2nd, The Who perform at New Edmonton Gardens in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, then remain in Edmonton for most of the next week. On the last night (7th), John and Keith have a bad time at the hotel bar. John: "We sat down to order and the barman came up and told us 'dirty, long-haired hippies' to get out, or he'd throw us out. He pulled our chairs out from under us and we left, as he was three times as big as me. Apparently, the bar had been invaded one night by rough hippies and the whole place had been wrecked. We complained to the assistant manager that he'd better get bar staff who could tell the difference between 'gentlemen' (heh-heh) and hooligans." In response John writes the song "What Are We Doing Here?" that later appears on his 1971 solo album Smash Your Head Against The Wall.



On the 8th, The Who motor back into the U.S. playing the Metropolitan Sports Center near Minneapolis, Minnesota.

John Entwistle and Pete Townshend backstage at the Grande John Entwistle and Pete Townshend backstage at the Grande

On the 9th, they return to the site of their first non-New York U.S. show, the Grande Ballroom in Dearborn, Michigan, with Soap opening. At this show The Who add "Little Billy" to their show list. They also break all attendance records for the ballroom.


NME article on The Who in Australia NME article on The Who in Australia

On the same day is a New Musical Express article: "Ann Moses meets The Who" about a meeting between The Who and the editor of Tiger Beat. Mention is made of the American Cancer Society ads for which "Little Billy" is intended. In the same issue is a report that the hubbub over The Who/Small Faces tour down under has caused Australian bookers to cancel plans for further British groups until "the present storm has died down".



Ad for The Who at The Opera House 1968 Ad for The Who at The Opera House 1968

On the 10th, The Who play the Opera House in Aurora, Illinois. The show is filmed by a BBC camera crew for Tony Palmer's music documentary All My Loving. They also film that night's performance at the Exposition Gardens in Peoria, Illinois. The promoter at this show withholds the balance of the band's fee claiming they "overplayed". On this day or the next The Who are filmed aboard their bus motoring through the Midwest. Clips from the bus ride and snippets from the Peoria performance later appear in The Kids Are Alright.

Ad for The Who in San Antonio 1968 Ad for The Who in San Antonio 1968

On the 15th, the tour winds all the way down to Municipal Auditorium in San Antonio, Texas.

Hit Parader article: "The nonstop Pete Townshend." Pete says The Who influenced Jimi Hendrix and Cream and were influenced by The Stones, The Beatles and Beethoven.

On the 16th, an article by Pete called "Who In Frisco" appears in New Musical Express. That same day Billboard reports that The Who have recorded a commercial for Sunn Musical Equipment Co. that will be distributed as a single at Sunn dealerships.

Ad for The Who in Houston 1968 Ad for The Who in Houston 1968

That night The Who play the City Auditorium in Beaumont, Texas. The next night they travel to Houston to play The Music Hall.

Go article on Little Billy Go article on Little Billy

On the 22nd, Go magazine reports "The Who make anti-smoking commercial" about "Little Billy." Go also says The Who's fall TV series will play on the BBC, will be an hour-long and The Monkees, Bob Dylan and Lulu have been scheduled as guests. That night The Who play Curtis Hixon Hall in Tampa, Florida.

On the 23rd, is another Pete-penned travel piece in New Musical Express, "Who Pete Townshend writes from Hollywood." That night The Who can be seen at Code 1 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with Bridge opening.

On the 24th, The Who finish up Florida playing Orlando Coliseum. Then it's up to Canada to play The Forum in Montreal on the 27th. Supporting the band is The Troggs.

Ad for The Who at Drew U 1968 Ad for The Who at Drew U 1968

Two days later the bus heads up the U.S. East Coast so The Who can play Baldwin Gymnasium at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey on the 29th. Orpheus opens.

Ad for The Who at Westbury Music Fair 1968 Ad for The Who at Westbury Music Fair 1968

On the 30th, The Who play the Westbury Music Fair in Westbury on Long Island. They then finish the month the next night in the nation's capital, playing the D.A.R. Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. with support from The Troggs, Orpheus and The Beacon Street Union.









April 1968

New music releases: Bookends - Simon & Garfunkel; "Mrs. Robinson" - Simon & Garfunkel; The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees - The Monkees; "This Guy's in Love with You" - Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass

On the 1st, Jim Hoagland reviews The Who's March 31st concert for the Washington Post. His review is distinctly intellectual but positive.

On the 4th, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Riots erupt in several American cities. On the same day, while visiting booker Frank Barselona's house in New York, Keith goes crazy after Australia is mentioned. He goes back to the Gorham hotel, gets drunk, blows up his toilet with a cherry bomb and then climbs out on a ledge and begins throwing cherry bombs into the street at the gathering police. Incredibly, Barselona manages to keep Keith from going to jail, but The Who do get thrown out of the hotel and have to move to the Waldorf.

The Who under flag The Who under flag
Photo: Art Kane

The next morning The Who are photographed for Life magazine by Art Kane at the Carl Schurz Memorial in Morningside Park asleep under two sewn-together Union Jack flags prepared by Kane. They are so tired from Keith's late-night antics that they actually go to sleep.

The Who rehersal Fillmore East The Who rehersal Fillmore East
Photo: Linda McCartney

Nap over, The Who report to the Fillmore East in the Village for a dress rehearsal and microphone set up for that night's show that is to be recorded on four-track. The rehearsal, as well as that night's concert, are photographed by manager Chris Stamp's then-girlfriend Linda Eastman. The Who had planned four shows over the two days (5th and 6th) but fears of violence sparked by the King assassination lead to the cancellation of the early hour shows.

The Who concert Fillmore East 1968 The Who concert Fillmore East 1968
Photo: Linda McCartney

Supporting acts for the concert are Free Spirits and Buddy Guy with B.B. King. The Who and their management cancel plans to release the album after hearing an acetate. However, this acetate escapes as a bootleg in the early 1970's becoming one of The Who's most popular. Finally, after finding the multi-track master, the album is officially released April 2018.











On the 5th, an interview with Pete is printed in the underground press EVO. Pete mentions Meher Baba as being "his man" as opposed to the Maharishi. He also discusses the genesis of "Happy Jack" and "King Rabbit" and his feelings about Christianity, acid and marijuana.

On the 6th, The Who's luggage is locked up at the Waldorf Astoria after they refuse to pay their bill up front. Keith retrieves his luggage by blowing the door off its hinges. They are promptly banned for life at the Waldorf. Pete and his fiancée Karen go to stay at Tom Wright's apartment while everybody else sleeps on the tour bus.

When he isn't busy blowing up hotels, Keith, accompanied by John, goes drinking at the Salvation Club in New York. There they run into The Who's ex-roadie Richard Cole and discuss leaving The Who to form a band to be called Led Zeppelin, based on the after-gig post mortem that a show went over "like a lead zeppelin." Steve Marriott, Steve Winwood and Jimmy Page are mentioned as additional members. Cole at the time is working for Jimmy Page managing the New Yardbirds. He promptly nicks the name for Page's band along with John's idea of a crashing zeppelin for the cover of their first album which is released the next year.

The Who 1968 Toronto poster The Who 1968 Toronto poster

On the 7th, The Who run for the border playing the CNE Coliseum in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. They are supported by The Troggs, MC5 and Raja.

On the 8th, The Who return to England After deducting expenses, each member earns £1000 before taxes for their one-and-a-half month tour. They start planning to film the pilot for their "Sound and Picture City" TV show. It is to be produced by Tony Palmer and feature Radio One D.J.'s Chris Denning and Kenny Everett as well as artist Caroline Coon.

On the 10th, Keith and Pete attend a celebrity party at The Marquee for the club's 10th anniversary. They are interviewed by Johnny Moran for BBC Radio 1's Scene and Heard.

On the 11th, The Village Voice prints an interview with Pete conducted by Michael Zwerin on the subject of Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and the basis of The Who's auto-destruction.

The Who Marquee Club 1968 The Who Marquee Club 1968

On the 15th, The Who return to The Marquee Club in London supported by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. They return again for a show on the 23rd billed as "The Return Of The Fabulous Who" with Jethro Tull opening. At these shows The Who perform a new composition, John's "Heaven And Hell," which will become their show opener for the next two years.

Exciting The Who LP Exciting The Who LP

The LP Exciting The Who is released in Japan. The album, a collection of A and B sides from Who singles plus "A Quick One While He's Away," will become one of the most avidly-sought Who albums by collectors. Meanwhile "Call Me Lightning" is released as a single in Sweden.


Pete Townshend in flat 1968 Pete Townshend in flat 1968

At his Ebury Street flat, Pete composes and performs the soundtrack for Richard Stanley's student movie Lone Ranger. Also around this time Stanley takes Pete to the White City greyhound races. Pete is enchanted by the working-class milieu and composes a song about it called "Dogs."





The In Sound 1968 The In Sound 1968

Starting the week of the 22nd, U.S. radio stations begin airing a recently recorded Pete Townshend interview, along with "Call Me Lightning," as part of The In Sound presented by the U.S. Army. The five-minute syndicated radio program, hosted by Harry Harrison, also features interviews with Lulu and Bobby Goldsboro. Despite Pete's having appeared on the program in 1967 and the show's mention on The Who Sell Out LP, Pete gets blasted for this appearance by the underground press for associating with the U.S. military.

On the 27th, The Who were scheduled to appear at The Golden Rose of Montreaux Television Festival at the Casino in Montreaux, Switzerland but transmission sheets show The Who did not attend. However, on the same day, The Who do appear via their promo film for "Call Me Lightning," which airs for the first time on the U.S. syndicated TV show Happening '68.

On the 29th, The Who play the Top Rank Suite in Watford with opening acts Geno Washington's Ram Jam Band and the Free Expression.



May 1968

New music releases: Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison - Johnny Cash; Creedence Clearwater Revival - Creedence Clearwater Revival; "Grazing in the Grass" - Hugh Masekela; The Beat of the Brass - Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass

On the 3rd, The Who play the Pre Rag Ball at Hull University. They are the third choice after the Jimi Hendrix Experience and then The Crazy World of Arthur Brown canceled. Opening for The Who is the English groups The Amboy Dukes and The Circus.

Pete Townshend MM article 4-5-68 Pete Townshend MM article 4-5-68
Photo: Barrie Wentzell

On the 4th, Melody Maker prints Chris Welch's story of a recent visit to Pete's home studio. Pete plays him the demo version of "Now I'm A Farmer" and says it is part of a new opera he is writing called "The Amazing Journey" about a deaf, dumb and blind boy who has dreams and sees himself as the ruler of the cosmos. It is the first public mention of what will eventually become Tommy.

Call Me Lightning French PS Call Me Lightning French PS

Also on the 4th, "Call Me Lightning" reaches its U.S. chart peak at #40 in Billboard, retaining it the next week. On the same day both Melody Maker and Disc report that plans to release it as an A-side in the U.K. have been shelved because "it was recorded some time ago and they don't feel it represents their current work." Apparently it is good enough for the rest of Europe as it is released in France, Germany, Spain, Italy and several other countries. On the 18th, "Call Me Lightning" enters the Dutch charts where it peaks at #38.


And on the evening of the 4th, The Who perform at Mountford Hall at Liverpool University. Attendance is light because of a bus strike.

Pete Townshend as Cowboy Pete Townshend as Cowboy
Photo: Richard Stanley

On the 8th, Pete is filmed as a guitar-playing cowboy for the end credits of Richard Stanley's 16mm student movie Lone Ranger.

On the 11th, The Who have another school date, this one at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, Scotland.

Keith, Mandy and Kim Moon Keith, Mandy and Kim Moon
Photo: Ian Tyas

On the same day, Keith is interviewed in Record Mirror where he gives more details of the still-planned Who TV programme "Sound and Picture City". Around the same time he is interviewed in Disc and Music Echo and admits he has been secretly married for over two years and has a baby daughter. In connection with this article Keith, his wife Kim and daughter Mandy have their first public photos taken by Ian Tyas. The family then leaves for a short vacation in Mombasa, Kenya.

Pete and Karen Townshend wedding Pete and Karen Townshend wedding

A far less secret marriage ceremony is held on the 20th as Pete and his long-time girlfriend Karen Astley wed at the Didicot Registry Office in Oxfordshire. The reception is held at the in-laws' but there is no honeymoon as Pete has to stay home to work on the next Who single.

Two days later, The Who record that single, "Dogs," at Advision Studios in London. Recording continues through the 29th with The Who laying down more tracks for a new album. Pete's "Melancholia" and backing tracks for "Now I'm A Farmer" and "Magic Bus" are laid down to tape; Jess Roden of The Alan Bown Set provides backing vocals on the latter track. Also recorded are covers of "Fortune Teller," an as-yet-unreleased studio version of "Shakin' All Over," and also unreleased songs "Joy" and "Facts of Life."

During the recording, Pete is interviewed on camera for a CBS documentary. Part of the interview is later featured in ABC-TV's 1979 documentary Heroes of Rock 'n Roll.

Two more university shows. On the 24th, The Who play City University in Clerkenwell, London and on the 31st they are at the University in Manchester.



June 1968

New music releases: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida - Iron Butterfly; "Stoned Soul Picnic" - The 5th Dimension; "Susie Q" - Creedence Clearwater Revival; "Born to Be Wild" - Steppenwolf

On the 2nd, Paul Nelson writes a long rave review of The Who Sell Out in The New York Times.

Early in the month several more attempts are made at recording "Magic Bus" at IBC Studios.

The Small Faces Ogden's Nut Gone Flake The Small Faces Ogden's Nut Gone Flake

On the 7th, the Small Faces' LP Ogden's Nut Gone Flake is released. The album's second side is a rock opera telling the story of a character called "Happiness Stan" through song.

The Who with Yellow Printer The Who with Yellow Printer

On the 11th, The Who are supposed to play the St. John's College Ball at Cambridge with Spooky Tooth and Scaffold supporting. They cancel at the last minute claiming Keith is sick. Actually they are at the Walthamstow dog-racing track shooting publicity photos for "Dogs." They are photographed with "Yellow Printer" whose name is parodied as "Gallop Winter" in the song. The Student Union representative from St. John's College travels to London to scream at Kit Lambert over the cancellation and ends up with a job offer.


Speaking of dogs, on the 12th, Pete presents his wife Karen with a spaniel puppy called Towser. Towser will go on to a co-writing credit on the instrumental "Dogs Part 2".

The Who Dogs Track label The Who Dogs Track label

On the 14th, "Dogs" and "Call Me Lightning" are released as a "Double A" side single in Britain. Melody Maker calls it "another Pete Townshend original with tremendous instant appeal" while Record Mirror says it "displays Pete's versatility as a writer." Any hopes it would prove more to the British public's liking than "I Can See For Miles" are dashed when it stalls at #25.

Arthur Brown Fire picture sleeve Arthur Brown Fire picture sleeve

At least one Track Records artist has a good day. The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown releases their single "Fire" backed with "Rest Cure." Pete is given associate producer credit and plays rhythm guitar on the B-side. "Fire" goes all the way to the U.K. #1. The Who will release their own cover version in 1989.


On the 15th, Melody Maker runs an interview with Roger headlined "At 18s 13d in the £, The Who find it's hardly worth working." Roger also mentions an unnamed opera The Who now have in the works.

On the evening of the 15th, The Who perform at London College of Printing supported by the Alan Bown Set. Jess Roden from the opening act comes back onstage to sing "Magic Bus" with The Who.

On the 17th, The Who pre-record a mimed performance of "Dogs" for Top Of The Pops but it never makes air due to the single's embarrassingly low chart position.

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown Track LP The Crazy World of Arthur Brown Track LP

On the 21st, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown's self-titled LP, with an associate production credit by Pete, is released in the U.K. Side one tells a complete story in song. Brown later says he wanted to extend the story to the entire album but was discouraged by producer (and Who manager) Kit Lambert. The album peaks at #2.

The evening of the 21st, The Who play the University in Durham with Status Quo, the Nashville Teens and Ray McVay and his Orchestra supporting.

On the 22nd, The Who are the guests of honor at the annual Greyhound Derby.

In the June 22nd issue of Melody Maker, Manfred Mann gets "Dogs" for his blind listen and doesn't have a clue who it is: "I suppose it's meant to be vaguely funny. But it's not making me laugh."

Roger Daltrey in Record Mirror 1968 Roger Daltrey in Record Mirror 1968

Also on the 22nd, Roger is interviewed in Record Mirror. He says he likes to tour America but wouldn't want to live there: "The American way of life is all wrong -- the older generation seem to be completely mad. It's only the youngsters that seem to have any sense."

On the 27th, it is reported that Pete has bought a Georgian home at No.3, The Embankment in Twickenham for £16,500. He plans to spend an additional £8,000 to convert a room into a professional recording studio.

Ad for 1968 Shrine concert Ad for 1968 Shrine concert

On the 28th, The Who headline at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles with Fleetwood Mac and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown supporting. "Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand" and "Silas Stingy" get rare live performances. On the same day Life magazine does a cover story on "New Rock" with a two-page spread of The Who asleep under a Union Jack flag.

On the 29th, is another performance at The Shrine Auditorium. The Steve Miller Band substitutes for The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown during the second show after Arthur breaks his toe during the first set. 8mm audience-shot footage later appears in VH1's 1997 special Legends: The Who.

After these two shows, The Who spend a week in Los Angeles. Monkee Peter Tork holds a party for The Who at his Hollywood home. Pete has meetings with Mick Jagger where they discuss a joint Rolling Stones/Who tour in the form of a traveling circus. Kit Lambert takes the tapes of "Magic Bus" to Gold Star Studios to prepare the final mix.



July 1968

New music releases: Waiting for the Sun - The Doors; "I Say a Little Prayer" - Aretha Franklin; In Search of the Lost Chord - The Moody Blues; The Best of Nat King Cole - Nat King Cole
Keith Moon Blind Date Keith Moon Blind Date

Keith Moon goes through the blind listen gauntlet for Melody Maker in the issue of the 6th. It's a big thumbs-up for The Small Faces' latest, "The Universal", a thumbs-down for the Moody Blues' "Voices in the Sky" and the Kinks' "Days".

On the 6th, Disc and Music Echo interviews John in an article called, "So I said to John Entwistle's dog..." John discusses his performances, his songwriting and his dog Jason. He admits he "wasn't all that keen on 'I Can See For Miles.'"

Poster for July 13, 1968 Who show Poster for July 13, 1968 Who show

On the 8th, The Who's summer tour of North America continues as they appear at Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento, California. Supporting them are Iron Butterfly and The Neighborhood Childr'n. Following this they travel to the Calgary Stampede Corral in Calgary, Alberta (10th), Saskatoon Arena in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (11th), Indiana Beach Ballroom in Monticello (12th) and two shows at the Grande Ballroom in Dearborn, Michigan (13th). At the first Grande Ballroom show, The Frost supports the band and The Psychedelic Stooges, soon to change their name to Iggy Pop and The Stooges, precede The Who at the latter show.

Earlier this month, Pete asks John to write two songs for the upcoming opera, one in which Tommy is tortured by a cousin and another where he is sexually molested by his uncle. Pete feels he cannot make the songs as nasty as they will need to be. On the evening of the 13th, after The Who's Grande Ballroom show, John gets lost, unable to find his room in the Pontchartrain Hotel. While searching, he writes the song "Fiddle About" in his head.

Rolling Stone Aug. 10, 1968 Rolling Stone Aug. 10, 1968

Rolling Stone has two articles, the first called "Electronic roll" that contains a comment by Pete on electronic music two years before the purchase of his synthesizer and the second "Who does full-length opera" in which Roger discusses The Who's plans to record a rock opera. Bob O'Lear writes a long rave review of The Who Sell Out in Jazz & Pop. He also takes Decca to task for their handling of the group's releases.

The Who at the Musicarnival 1968 The Who at the Musicarnival 1968
Photo: George Huba

On the 14th, The Who pitch their tent at the Musicarnival in Cleveland where the opening act is Cyrus Erie featuring singer Eric Carmen, later of The Raspberries. Bob Pridden comes upfront to sing "Magic Bus" with the band after which The Who smash their equipment due to dissatisfaction with the Sunn sound system. Returning to their dressing room, Pete and Roger find that their clothes and passports have been stolen. With nowhere else to go, the band borrows instruments from Cyrus Erie and finishes the show.



Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle backstage in Kingston Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle backstage in Kingston

The stolen passports cause The Who to have their equipment seized by Canadian customs as they proceed to their show of the 15th at the Memorial Center in Kingston, Ontario. They are forced to borrow a local band's gear to play the gig. The Sunn amplifiers, after they are finally delivered, remain at the Memorial Center until they are auctioned in the early 1990's.


Lord Sitar LP Lord Sitar LP

Around this time British session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan releases an LP under the alias Lord Sitar featuring a cover of "I Can See For Miles."

Life is Big Joke to Who Life is Big Joke to Who

The tour continues to the Civic Center in Ottawa on the 16th. Opening for The Who are The Troggs and Ohio Express. After that are two shows at the Autostade Stadium in Montreal (17th), the Rhode Island Auditorium in Providence with Blood, Sweat and Tears opening (18th), two shows with The Troggs at the Civic Center in Virginia Beach (20th), Oakdale Music Theatre in Wallingford, Connecticut (21st) and two shows, again with The Troggs, at The Mosque in Richmond, Virginia (23rd).

On the 24th, The Who were to headline "The English Invasion" night of the Philadelphia Music Festival but their participation is cancelled due to bad weather. Their next night is the 26th with two shows at the Saint Bernard Civic Auditorium in Chalmette, Louisiana. The People are the opening act.

Magic Bus U.S. 45 Magic Bus U.S. 45

On the 27th, The Who release their second U.S. single of the year, "Magic Bus" backed with the year-old recording "Someone's Coming." No. 25 is as high as it gets in the Billboard charts but it goes up to #10 in Cash Box.



The day of its release, The Who appear at the Orlando Sports Arena in Orlando, Florida, again supported by The People followed by the Marine Stadium in Miami, Florida with Ohio Express and The People (28th), Tamarack Lodge in Ellenville, New York (29th) and finishing the month at The New Place in Algonquin, New York (31st).



August 1968

New music releases: "Hey Jude" - The Beatles; Cheap Thrills - Big Brother & The Holding Company; Frank Sinatra's Greatest Hits - Frank Sinatra; Funny Girl - Original Soundtrack
Go To The Mirror lyrics draft Go To The Mirror lyrics draft

The Who continue their long summer tour of North America. On the 1st, they are at The Electric Theater in Chicago. While there The Who bunk at a Holiday Inn in Rolling Meadows, Illinois and during some time off, Pete writes a new song for the rock opera, "Go To The Mirror!" Pete also claims in his autobiography to have heard the voice of God. "In an instant, in a very ordinary place at an unexceptional time, I yearned for some connection with a higher power. This was a singular, momentous epiphany - a call to the heart."


The Who at the Singer Bowl 1968 The Who at the Singer Bowl 1968

On the 2nd, The Who play one of the biggest dates of the tour, the New York Singer Bowl opening for The Doors. Pete is appalled watching Jim Morrison taunt the girls in the crowd to come closer while near riot conditions ensue. This gives him the idea for another song for the rock opera, "Sally Simpson."






Ad for Aug. 6, 1968 Who show Ad for Aug. 6, 1968 Who show

The next day, it's off to Majestic Hills in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin followed by the Melody Fair in North Tonawanda, New York, outside Buffalo, on the 4th and the Music Hall in Boston on the 6th. Quill opens. During the Boston show, Jon Rubin shoots silent 8mm color footage of Keith throwing his drums into the crowd. It later appears in the movie The Kids Are Alright.










NY Times review of Who show 1968 NY Times review of Who show 1968

On the 7th, The Who play in Central Park as part of the Schaefer Music Festival. Pete smashes his guitar as he usually does, but this does not go over well with the New York Times who gives the band a bad review for their violent ways.



Then The Who board the bus to head across country playing the Illinois State Fairground Cavalcade of Music Stage in Springfield, Illinois on the 9th (The Association opens), followed by the Jaguar Club in St. Charles, Missouri on the 10th.



Pete Townshend Fillmore West 1968 Pete Townshend Fillmore West 1968
Photo: Baron Wolman

On the 13th, The Who begin three nights at the Fillmore West in San Francisco with supporting acts the James Cotton Blues Band and Magic Sam. At 2am one of these nights Pete delivers a mammoth interview to Rolling Stone magazine, which they publish in two parts shortly afterwards. This often-reprinted interview details the plot of Pete's new rock opera, then called "Deaf, Dumb and Blind Boy," and Pete later has to refer back to the magazine for plot reminders throughout the recording of Tommy. The interview also establishes Pete as rock's greatest expounder on the new music's meaning and idealism.










Poster for Aug. 22, 1968 Who show Poster for Aug. 22, 1968 Who show

The Who continue to the Selland Arena in Fresno, California (16th with Quicksilver Messenger Service), Municipal Stadium in Phoenix, Arizona (17th), Keiker Junction Concert Hall in Colorado Springs, Colorado (18th), Albuquerque Civic Auditorium (20th with The Frantics) and the Music Hall in Kansas City, Missouri (22nd). After the Kansas City show, The Who's car is rammed by another vehicle requiring an overnight hospital visit but hardly slowing The Who juggernaut.

The Who Oklahoma City 1968 The Who Oklahoma City 1968
Photo: Carl Dunn

The next night they are in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma playing the Wedgewood Village Amusement Park. Greg Wells, is sent to pick up the band at Will Rogers World Airport: "Townshend had a recorder and he was real quiet. He was way, way to himself. I guess he had a lot of music going on in his head. Entwistle was a regular guy, Moon was crazy, and Daltrey was carrying a ditty bag. And as he got off the plane we started walking down the concourse and he unzipped the bag and pulled out about a four-foot snake and wrapped it around his wrist and his arm and put his thumb in his pocket and walked out with a snake on his arm. And I guess it was a fashion statement, but it was something he did." As the 23rd is Keith's 22nd birthday, the park owner gives him a cake that he proceeds to tear apart and throw at the audience.

Before the next night at The Amusement Park, Pete asks to meet an American Indian (they pass off an Italian park employee to Pete's unknowing delight) and Wells takes Roger, John and Keith on a tour of the local 7-Elevens where they buy hundreds of dollars worth of junk food.



Handbill for Aug. 28, 1968 Who show Handbill for Aug. 28, 1968 Who show

Full of candy and hot dogs, The Who travel to the Civic Auditorium in San Jose, California (26th), Community Concourse in San Diego, California (27th), Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, California (28th with the James Cotton Band and The Caretakers), the Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara, California (29th) and end the tour at Hi-Corbett Field in Tucson, Arizona supported by Blue Cheer.







September 1968

New music releases: "All Along the Watchtower" - The Jimi Hendrix Experience; "Stand By Your Man" - Tammy Wynette; "Little Green Apples" - O.C. Smith; "Over You" - Gary Puckett & The Union Gap

On the 1st, The Who return to London from their long North American tour. They say they will be working on their next album, due out for Christmas.

On the 5th, Keith takes part in a charity scooter race in Wembley. He is also interviewed by Johnny Moran for Radio 1's Scene and Heard.

Eye Magazine 1968 Eye Magazine 1968

On the 7th, the U.S. magazine Eye contains lyrics for three Pete songs -- "Party Piece from Rael," a song from the unfinished rock opera that led to "Rael" from The Who Sell Out, "Joker James" (copyright 1968), which would ultimately be recorded for the Quadrophenia Soundtrack, and "Join My Gang" (copyright 1966) -- which had been recorded by Oscar. Here's a link to page one and another to page two from Joe Giorgianni's Who site.

Arthur Brown Fire US 45 Arthur Brown Fire US 45

Also on the 7th comes the U.S. release of The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown LP and the single "Fire" backed with "Rest Cure". The single peaks at #2 in both the Billboard and Cash Box charts. Pete gets an associate production credit and plays rhythm guitar on the B-side. The album, which also has an associate producer credit for Pete, peaks at #7.



On the 10th, Keith participates in a Wembley scooter race with Cathy McGowan, Richard Neville and John Peel. Footage of the race is broadcast three days later on the BBC1 programme How It Is.



John Entwistle Magic Bus John Entwistle Magic Bus Pete Townshend Roger Daltrey at Magic Bus shoot Pete Townshend Roger Daltrey at Magic Bus shoot

Around this time photos are taken by Australian photographer Barry Peake of The Who gathered around a psychedelic bus. Pete later says he was told by Decca/MCA that the pictures were to promote the single "Magic Bus" when the label knew they were for the non-band-approved U.S. compilation album Magic Bus - The Who On Tour.

On the 15th, Pete's new home by The Thames gets caught in a rare flood after heavy downpours. "Heavy rain had swollen the Thames, and when it reached the tiny windows to the cellar it started to rush in...The situation made it impossible to keep up my normal studio work, or to even store my instruments where I needed them. This generated an almost apocalyptic mood in me for a number of weeks..."

On the 19th, The Who begin what will ultimately become six months of recording sessions for Tommy. One of the songs definitely recorded around this time during sessions in IBC Studio A, London are various takes of Mose Allison's "Young Man Blues," probably intended as a single. The takes come out after the release of Tommy, the first on the 1969 Track Records compilation The House That Track Built.

Pete Townshend Melody Maker 21 Sep 1968 Pete Townshend Melody Maker 21 Sep 1968

On the 21st, Melody Maker prints an interview with Pete where he comes out for the first time as being against LSD: "Before I took LSD, I tried to imagine what it would be like and when I did it was as big as I expected and blew my head off. So, if I could imagine what it would be like, what is the point of taking it? All drugs do is strengthen the illusion of what you see around you. If you see a piece of orange peel lying on the pavement, it's stupid to try and see it as anything other than a piece of orange peel. Things do tend to get out of perspective." He also mentions the planned Live at the Fillmore album: "it came out pretty badly. We’re not as good as [Cream]. We jump about too much, which people expect from us on stage, and you can't play so well."

On the 22nd, Pete is interviewed again, this time in The New York Times. He reiterates his preference for U.S. touring and discusses The Who's new opera.

On the 27th, Pete appears on BBC overseas radio discussing the Who's future.

On the 28th, "Magic Bus" hits its U.S. chart peak at #25 in Billboard. Also on the 28th, Cash Box has an ad for Magic Bus: The Who on Tour among other albums released in the new 8-track cartridge and cassette formats.



October 1968

New music releases: Electric Ladyland - The Jimi Hendrix Experience; Romeo and Juliet - Nino Rota; Singer Presents Elvis Sings Flaming Star and Others - Elvis Presley; Switched-on Bach - Walter Carlos
Peter Rudge Peter Rudge

On the 1st, Peter Rudge joins Track Records as an office boy. Within four years he will be The Who's de facto manager after Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp become less involved with the band.

Ad for 4 Oct 1968 Ad for 4 Oct 1968

On the 5th, the band performs at the Roundhouse in London as part of a "Middle Earth" show with support from the Blossom Toes and the Fox. The show runs twice as long as usual and ends with a great equipment smash-up.

Also on the 5th, Track Records publicist Nancy Lewis tells Billboard that The Who's managers are still trying to launch a programme on British television. The planned pilot will be directed by Michael Lindsay Hogg, ex-director of Ready Steady Go! and the recent "Hey Jude" promotional video for The Beatles. Unlike reports from earlier in the year, The Who are not intended as hosts for the show. If filmed, the pilot is never aired.



On the 7th, The Who fly to Bremen, Germany where they mime to "Magic Bus" for Beat Club. Before the taping, Pete and Keith do their part for Anglo-German relations by imitating Nazis.


1968-10-07 - Beat Club - Magic Bus from thewho.net on Vimeo.
The Who on Magic Bus tour The Who on Magic Bus tour
Photo: Chris Walter

On the 9th, The Who hire a bus from Paris and are photographed on board with female models and a small menagerie of animals, all to promote their new single "Magic Bus". Divested of the animals, the bus travels through London as The Who and the models toss streamers at passers-by. The trip runs into one snag when they are banned from riding in front of Buckingham Palace.












1968-10-09 - Magic Bus Promo tour from thewho.net on Vimeo.
Magic Bus UK ad Magic Bus UK ad

On the 11th, two-and-a-half months after its U.S. release, "Magic Bus" is released by Track Records in the U.K., backed with a complete version of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." John Wells in New Musical Express says, "...a real driving powerhouse number written by Pete Townshend, on which the boys really go to town...a great one for dancers, particularly in the clubs, and certain to restore the boys to the British charts."

On the 11th, it's time for another "Magic Bus" mime job, this one for BBC-1's How It Is with performance intercut with footage of the promotional bus ride filmed by manager Chris Stamp on the 9th. Afterwards, The Who head off for a show at the University in York with Spooky Tooth supporting.

John Entwistle in Record Mirror Oct. 1968 John Entwistle in Record Mirror Oct. 1968

On the 12th, they play another University, this one in Sheffield, with label mates The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. On the same day, John is interviewed in Record Mirror. He says The Who's rock opera, "Deaf, Dumb and Blind Boy," will constitute one side of their forthcoming album.

Magic Bus The Who on Tour LP Magic Bus The Who on Tour LP

Also on the 12th, Decca releases the LP Magic Bus - The Who on Tour. A collection of Who A-sides, album tracks and leftovers, the album gets bad marks in the Underground press for its title that could mislead buyers into thinking it was a live album. Unaware of the album prior to its release, Pete is furious with Decca. Despite, or perhaps because of the confusion, the album reaches #39 on the Billboard charts making it The Who's first Top Forty album in their U.S. charts. The LP also features a new stereo mix of "Magic Bus".








Direct Hits LP Direct Hits LP
Direct Hits original cover Direct Hits original cover
Direct Hits original cover art

The Who's label Track Records also releases a compilation for the coming Christmas market. The cover is supposed to be a painting of an atomic bomb explosion made by David King, one of the designers of The Who Sell Out cover. Manager Chris Stamp had hired him, but the cover is rejected at the last minute for reasons unknown and a new cover is hastily assembled. A collection of previously released Who A and B-sides, Direct Hits goes retail in Britain on the 18th. Unlike its American cousin, the album fails to reach the album charts.

That day, The Who again board the 100-year old bus for another promotional drive around London. Afterwards, Pete is reported to say "I've had enough of this -- circus." Keith adds, "I bet the record doesn't even make the charts after this."

A "Pop Ask-in: Keith Moon" is included in that day's New Musical Express: "We get approximately £4,000 for a job in America and £500 for the same job in England. Then of course in the States you pay very low tax - none of this 19/6 in the pound fiasco." He also says of The Who's last single "Dogs": "it was rotten, and it was rubbish!"

Ad for 18 Oct 1968 Ad for 18 Oct 1968

That night, The Who take part in a "Midnight Rave" at the Lyceum in London with supporting acts The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, Alan Bown!, Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera and Skip Bifferty. Jess Roden joins The Who to re-create his studio backing vocals on "Magic Bus."

Ad for 19 Oct 1968 Ad for 19 Oct 1968

On the 19th, Disc magazine reports The New Yardbirds will change their name to Lead Zeppelin (shortly to become Led Zeppelin) "courtesy of Keith Moon." That night Keith and his band The Who perform at the California Ballroom in Dunstable.

Reports have The Who continuing the Tommy LP sessions at IBC Studios, London from the 21st through the 24th from 2 to 10pm. Songs Pete is known to have written by this time are "Amazing Journey", "Sensation", "Welcome", and "We're Not Gonna Take It".

Ad for 25 Oct 1968 Ad for 25 Oct 1968

Another "Middle Earth" show on the 25th at the Granby Hall at the University in Leicester with supporting acts Joe Cocker and the Grease Band and Family.



On the 30th, The Who play down the Thames from Pete's house on Eel Pie Island with supporting acts East of Eden, Proteus and David Booth.



November 1968

New music releases: The Beatles [a/k/a The White Album] - The Beatles; Wichita Lineman - Glen Campbell; Greatest Hits - The Association; "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" - Diana Ross & The Supremes & The Temptations

On the 1st, John is interviewed on BBC's Radio 1 Club.

On the 3rd, BBC1 airs a documentary including footage of The Who during their Spring bus tour of America. Directed by Tony Palmer, it is called Omnibus: All My Loving. Although shot in colour, it is initially shown in black-and-white.

Keith Moon news Nov. 4 1968 Keith Moon news Nov. 4 1968

On the 4th, Keith is charged in Clerkenwell Magistrates Court with being drunk and disorderly. The previous weekend he had been arrested after running down the middle of Southgrove, Highgate shouting at cars and trying to stop traffic. He is fined £2. Afterwards, Keith retires to the balcony to watch a few more cases before leaving to attend a Tommy recording session.


Flyer for 9 Nov 1968 Flyer for 9 Nov 1968

On the 8th, The Who begin their last package tour of the U.K. at the Granada Cinema in Walthamstow. The opening acts are Joe Cocker & The Grease Band, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, and The Mindbenders. In protest over the violence of their stage act, the Granada's manager drops the curtain on The Who but they keep playing and the curtains are ultimately reopened. The tour continues to the Adelphi Cinema in Slough (9th) with Free added to the lineup, Colston Hall in Bristol (10th) with Alan Bown! replacing Joe Cocker, and the Sherwood Rooms in Nottingham (12th).



Pete Townshend recording Tommy Pete Townshend recording Tommy
Photo: Baron Wolman

On the 9th, Melody Maker's Chris Welch reports on the recording of The Who's new rock opera, titled "Deaf Dumb and Blind Boy." Producer Kit Lambert says it will be ready for Christmas release.

On the same day, "Magic Bus" reaches its U.K. chart peak at #26, one position lower than their previous failed single "Dogs".

German picture sleeve for Nightmare German picture sleeve for Nightmare

On the 15th, Track Records releases a new single by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. "Nightmare" backed with "What's Happening" carries an associate producer credit for Pete. It fails to chart in the U.K., but in the U.S. the A-side hits #74 in Cash Box while the B-side peaks at #99.


15 Nov 1968 ad 15 Nov 1968 ad

Also on the 15th, The Who pre-tape their appearance on ITV's Time For Blackburn plugging "Magic Bus." From there, they go to The Roundhouse in London to perform in the first of two all-night "Middle Earth" shows along with Joe Cocker, Arthur Brown, the Mindbenders and Yes. Also performing that night are The Small Faces in one of their last live gigs. For the show on the 16th, Joe Cocker is replaced by Tea & Symphony.

Spontaneous Generation 45

The Atlanta, Georgia group The Spontaneous Generation release their single "Up In My Mind" with a cover of "Pictures Of Lily" on the flip side.

15 Nov 1968 NME article 15 Nov 1968 NME article

The 15th also sees New Musical Express carry the article "Pete Townshend keeps The Who live." The interview with Pete concerns the "Deaf Dumb and Blind Boy" rock opera, the deficiencies of Radio 1, how "Magic Bus" was recorded "at a time when we had just returned from our first trip to America", and how "Dogs" was released "because we knew [the BBC] would pass it as fit for human consumption." He mentions that the hero of the opera plays pinball and the story ends at a holiday camp.

The mentions of "pinball" and "holiday camp" mean that two events that will change the content of The Who's rock opera have already happened. Pete plays an early version of Tommy to The Guardian's Nik Cohn who considers the story of a deaf, dumb and blind kid who becomes a messiah "po-faced". Knowing Nik is a fan of the arcade game of pinball, Pete replies, "did I mention he's also a pinball champ?" Pete runs back home, writes a new song, "Pinball Wizard" and peppers the opera with references to pinball. The other event comes from the lengthy group discussions on how to end the opera. Keith chimes in wanting it to end at a holiday camp and offering to write a song for it. Pete is enthused by the idea but not of Keith writing a song for the piece, so he pens "Tommy's Holiday Camp" and credits it to Keith.

16 Nov 1968 Record Mirror article 16 Nov 1968 Record Mirror article

On the 16th, Keith is interviewed in Record Mirror. He discusses jazz ("poppycock and balderdash") and pop, orchestrations (boring) and the new "progressive" rock (too specialized).

18 Nov 1968 ticket 18 Nov 1968 ticket

The package tour continues on the 17th at the Birmingham Theatre. Free opens and, because it is a Sunday, The Who's act is cut to thirty minutes. From there they are off to the City Hall in Newcastle on the 18th with Joe Cocker and Yes opening.

On the 19th, the tour motors up to Glasgow to perform at the Paisley Ice Rink. To pass the time during the long drive, Keith buys a female blow-up doll, puts stockings on the legs, and sticks them out the car window while screaming in a woman's voice over his car's inbuilt PA system. After that night's show, The Who are escorted back to their hotel rooms by the police who want to know what they did with the body. They find it in Keith's room where he has covered the bathroom walls in what looks like blood with the blow-up dolls legs sticking out of the bathtub from under a sheet.

20 Nov 1968 ad 20 Nov 1968 ad

On the 20th, the fun-and-games-show travels to the Empire Theatre in Liverpool for the last gig of the tour. At the end, Kenney Jones of The Small Faces comes out and he and Keith share the drum kit as The Who plays a twenty-minute version of "Magic Bus."

On the 21st, The Who record an appearance for the BBC-1 children's show Crackerjack where they perform "Magic Bus." A planned recording the next day on BBC's How It Is is cancelled.

The Who also make a few more live appearances to keep the money rolling in, playing the City Hall in St. Albans on the 22nd and the Corn Exchange in Devizes, Wiltshire on the 23rd.

John Entwistle news article Nov 1968 John Entwistle news article Nov 1968

Also on the 23rd, John and his wife Alison head back to their old school, opening the annual Acton County Grammar Christmas charity bazaar.

On the 26th, the Who play the Top Rank Ballroom in Southampton followed by an "All-Night Student Carnival Rave" at The University of Southamptom with support by the Freddie Mack Show, the Savoy Brown Blues Band, Chris Shakespeare and the Globe.



On the 27th, The Who pre-tape an appearance for a New Year's Eve special in Paris at the ORTF Studios. The Who mime to "I'm a Boy," "I Can See For Miles" and "Magic Bus." During a performance by Hughes Aufrey, Pete, Keith and Bob Pridden can be seen doing a mad dance in the crowd.


1968-11-27 - The Who in Paris from thewho.net on Vimeo.

On the 30th, Pete tells Disc magazine that his new opera will feature orchestration. That night The Who play the University of Manchester.

Also on the 30th, The Who's new U.S. album Magic Bus - The Who on Tour reaches its chart peak at #40, becoming their first album to break the Top Forty barrier.



December 1968

New music releases: Blood, Sweat & Tears - Blood, Sweat & Tears; "Build Me Up Buttercup" - The Foundations; Beggars Banquet - The Rolling Stones; "These Eyes" - The Guess Who
1968 Sound City bill 1968 Sound City bill

On the 1st, The Who receive a bill from Sound City for repair of a 4x12 speaker cabinet: "Bottom speakers gone".

On the 6th, The Who play a Xmas Ball at Maxwell Hall at the University of Salford. The next night, they are at the University of Bristol.

On the 7th, Billboard reports that The Who's managers, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, are seeking to expand their Track Records label to the U.S. with releases handled by Atlantic. The two are also looking for "unknown contemporary American artists and songwriters" whom they want to manage.

On the 9th, The Who report for the cast rehearsal of the television special The Rolling Stones' Rock 'n Roll Circus at the Londonderry House Hotel in London. Afterwards they race off for another gig at the Pavilion in Bath.

The The Who at Circus rehearsal
Photo: Mike Randolph

On the 10th, The Who again assemble at Stonebridge House Studios in Wembley under the direction of ex-Ready Steady, GO! director Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Glyn Johns is the audio producer, his first time recording The Who since he was the engineer for producer Shel Talmy on the My Generation album. Johns is seconded by The Who's usual engineer Damon Lyon-Shaw. The first day sees only more rehearsals, press photography and some incidental filming.

The Who at Circus performance The Who at Circus performance

On the 11th, filming for the show proper begins. The Who record three takes of their mini-opera "A Quick One While He's Away" and, despite being one of the first acts filmed, they don't come on until after 4pm. Following this comes a succession of acts including an all-star performance of "Yer Blues" with John Lennon, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards. Finally the Stones come on after 1am, performing a set before a tired audience. Once the Stones see the film of their low-energy act back-to-back with The Who's road-tested, white-hot performance, they reject the material, planning to reshoot the next July. After Brian Jones' firing and death, the Stones try to sell the show to The Who, then stick it on the shelf. Bootlegs appear during the next decade, but none of the film is seen until The Who's performance is unearthed for The Kids Are Alright. A break between the Stones and then manager Allan Klein causes more delays, until the entire special is released on video in 1996.


Through the rest of the month, The Who continue working on the Tommy opera at IBC Studios Monday through Thursdays while performing live to pay for the studio time.

On the 12th, they play the University at Reading with Jess Roden again coming onstage to sing "Magic Bus."

Magic Bus German PS Magic Bus German PS

On the 15th, "Magic Bus" hits its peak on the German charts at #20.



Opal Butterfly 45 Opal Butterfly 45

Opal Butterfly releases a cover version of "Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand" as a single in the U.K. It fails to chart.




17 Dec 1968 Marquee 17 Dec 1968 Marquee

The 17th sees "The Who's Xmas Party" at the Marquee in London for their last ever performance at the venue where they had first come to the capital's attention during their residence in 1964-1965. This time Who fan Nigel Cornthwaite comes onstage to sing "Magic Bus" with the Who. "A great new group" named Yes is the opening act.

On the 19th, The Who appear at the Pavilion Ballroom in Worthing and on the 21st at the Gaiety Ballroom in Ramsey, Huntingdon.

The Pretty Things S.F. Sorrow The Pretty Things S.F. Sorrow

Around this time Track Records throws an afternoon Christmas party at their offices. Foolishly, a spread of sausage rolls, cake, and champagne is offered and, with Keith and Pete present, it quickly devolves into a food fight. Members of The Pretty Things claim that Pete supposedly played their newly released narrative rock album S.F. Sorrowat this event. Pete does hear the album at the time, mentioning it in comparison to Tommy in Beat Illustrated a month later. However, S.F. Sorrow is written and released long after The Who had recorded the majority of their rock opera. The album flops in the U.K. and is not released in the U.S. until 1970. Tommy will come out and become a huge success before anyone notices The Pretty Things' prior milestone.








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