Updated Dec. 28, 2023

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January 1971

New music releases: "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" - Creedence Clearwater Revival; Pearl - Janis Joplin; "Proud Mary" - Ike and Tina Turner; "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)" - The Temptations

On New Year's Day, BBC Radio 3 runs Study On 3 using various tracks from a Who recording to demonstrate modern recording techniques.

On the 2nd, in Record Mirror, Vivian Stanshall writes an article about his experiences clowning around with Keith.

Meanwhile in Sounds, Pete sketches out his idea for Life House. "Well one barrel is fiction in the way Tommy was fiction. It has music, a story, adventures in it. On the other side is the story about man’s search for harmony and the way he does it is through music. Through going into this theatre and setting up certain experiments... In other words, they’re attempting to find a piece of music which reflects the harmony of mankind, allows them to realise that you end up with a piece of music that is representative of the note. If you like, the thread of life. It would be unfair of me to set out looking for that if I didn’t know it was possible to find it... The whole thing is set in the future and yet it could be now, the way we’re going. Society’s completely overpopulated, it’s polluted, it’s on the brink. The most human thing anyone could do is set off the bomb, only nobody can find the switch. So what happens is that like today, at one end you have this fantastically advanced scientific thing and at the other end electricity workers living off thirteen quid and so on. So the two ends have drifted even further apart. You’ve got a lower low and a higher high and as a last resort this theatre is set up as a focus for everyone. In other words, it’s the last hope of humanity. If these people in this theatre can find themselves and balance in the midst of all this chaos then through very futuristic media things – experience suits, holograms and things – everyone else can, they can get above it and lose the illusion all around them. And underneath it all is the fact that in this theatre The Who are actually trying to DO something. Whether we succeed or not is another story. At worst we’ll come out with something like Let It Be. I mean at worst.”"

Young Vic older

On the 4th, The Who try out Pete's idea for the Life House project by holding an unadvertised concert at the Young Vic Theatre in London. Passers-by are invited in. Even the local police come in and enjoy the show.

Pete Townshend Record Mirror 23 Jan 1971

On the 13th, Pete holds a press conference at the Young Vic theatre to announce the Life House project, his long-awaited follow-up to Tommy. "We shall not be giving the usual kind of Who rock show. The audience will be completely involved in the music, which is designed to reflect people's personalities. We shall try to induce mental and spiritual harmony through the medium of rock music...I'll act as a computer and everything will be fed into me and processed, then put back out again. The effect is something that will come from everyone and the aim is that each person will get a better understanding of themselves. It will be the best music we've ever produced."

During breaks in all this Who activity, John mixes his first solo album, Smash Your Head Against The Wall at Trident Studios.

Melody Maker 16 Jan 1971

On the 16th, Melody Maker carries the sixth "The Pete Townshend Page" called "Do you suffer from media frustration?" He discusses the pros and cons of BBC radio.

On the 23rd, Billboard reports that Polydor has recently released in Italy a single by Maurizio called "Guardami, Aiutami, Toccami, Guariscimi" that is an Italian translation of "See Me, Feel Me". It was recorded in London by Blue Mink.

On the 23rd, Pete again tries to explain what the Life House project entails to Melody Maker: "We are intending to produce a fiction or a play or an opera, and create a completely different kind of performance in rock. We are writing a story and we aim to perform it on the first day we start work in this theatre. Tied in with the whole idea is the use of quadraphonic sound and pre-recorded tapes. About 400 people will be involved with us and we aim to play them music which represents them."

On the 24th, Pete and Keith are drinking at the Speakeasy when Frank Zappa asks them if they want to be in his new video movie 200 Motels, then shooting at Pinewood Studios in London. Pete begs off, being too busy with Life House, but Keith takes up his offer.

February 1971

New music releases: Tapestry - Carole King; "Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)" - Raiders; The Yes Album - Yes; Glan Campbell's Greatest Hits - Glen Campbell
Keith Moon 200 Motels set

On the 1st, the videotaping of Frank Zappa's bizarre movie 200 Motels begins at Studio A at Pinewood Studios, concluding on the 7th. Keith plays a randy nun/groupie cavorting with other groupies before dying and ascending to heaven. Backstage, Keith meets and begins an affair with fellow actor and groupie Pamela Miller a/k/a Pamela Des Barres who will later write about their relationship in her book I'm With The Band: Confessions Of A Groupie.

On the 7th, Nik Cohn pens an article on the Life House experiment for The New York Times: "The Who, from Tommy to Bobby".

On the 8th, The Who are billed as session guests on BBC Radio One's The Johnnie Walker Show.

Melody Maker 13 Feb 1971

On the 13th, the seventh "The Pete Townshend Page" called "Change - by taking people up" is published in Melody Maker. In it he discusses the purpose and plot of the Life House film: "The Young Vic becomes the 'Life House', the Who become musicians and the audience become part of a fantasy. We have invented the fantasy in our minds, the ideal, and now we want to make it happen for real. We want to hear the music we have dreamed about, see the harmony we have experienced temporarily in Rock, become permanent, and feel the things we are doing CHANGE the face of Rock and then maybe even people."

Record Mirror 13 Feb 1971

Also on the 13th, Pete and John are interviewed by Keith Altham in Record Mirror. Pete says he is currently working on personal material "that the Who just don't like" and speaks out against drug use. John says he is shortly releasing a solo LP called "What Are We Doing Here?" that will include a cover of Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl."

The Who at the Young Vic

Finally on the 14th, the first real session of Life House begins at The Young Vic Theatre on London's South Bank. A special audience of 200 are invited to attend. Filming is scheduled but probably never occurred. However, the session is recorded, along with the other Life House sessions, by Glyn Johns' brother Andy. The tape is not for release but for purposes of later review. Another session is held the next day.

Liberace Love And Music Festival LP

Liberace releases his album Love & Music Festival - Live featuring a cover of "Overture From Tommy."

On the 20th, Keith is the guest MC at the "Viv Stanshall, Neil Innes and Freaks" show at the Roundhouse.

On the 22nd, The Who are booked to appear at the Young Vic Theatre but fail to show up for some unspecified reason. Thunderclap Newman performs as a substitute with Keith on maracas and young Who fan Jeff Stein on tambourine.

March 1971

New music releases: Aqualung - Jethro Tull; You'll Never Walk Alone - Elvis Presley; "Layla" - Derek and the Dominos; The Cry of Love - Jimi Hendrix
The Who at Young Vic 1971
Photo: Peter Butler

On the 1st, The Who hold their third official session at the Young Vic Theatre in London as part of the Life House project. Afterwards, Who co-manager Chris Stamp takes The Who to a nearby pub to tell them that Universal Pictures has pulled out of the Life House project without forwarding any advance money. This leaves Pete, who had spent a good bit of his money on equipment and artwork to use for the film, out of pocket for a large sum. Stamp also reveals that Lambert has become addicted to heroin. This marks the end of the first attempt to film Life House.

One option remains which is to record the many songs Pete has written for Life House. The Who are invited to join Kit Lambert in New York where he has been recording the soul group Labelle and put the songs to tape.

Freaks mention

On the 2nd, Keith drums for an impromptu group called Freaks that also includes Viv Stanshall, Neil Innes, Gaspar Lawal, Bubs White, Andy Roberts, Denis Cowan and Shamsi Sarumi. They record "Come Out Into The Open," "Rawlinson End," "Music for Rawlinson End," "Bad Blood," and "Watcher". The tracks are broadcast on John Peel's Top Gear show 20 March.

The Who were scheduled to return to the Young Vic for another session on the 8th, but it is now believed it was cancelled after the news of the 1st.

On the 11th, Keith is a surprise participant in the All-Star Jam Session, organized by drummer Pete York at The Bumpers Club, Coventry Street, London. The band features Jon Lord, Roger Glover and Ian Paice as well as various members of the Keef Hartley Band.

On the 13th, Melody Maker runs the eighth "The Pete Townshend Page" called "Learning to walk - the second time around." He discusses the necessity of touring for The Who, a strong rumor about Brian Epstein's plan to have The Beatles tour Sgt. Pepper's with an orchestra and tapes, and how Glyn Johns will be recording the live film soundtrack using The Rolling Stones' mobile recording equipment.

The Making of Frank Zappa's 200 Motels documentary airs on BBC2's Late Show. It shows Keith acting in the film.

On the 15th, The Who re-assemble at the Record Plant Studios in New York City to record the new Life House material. Sitting in on the sessions are Mountain's Leslie West, Al Kooper on organ and Ken Ascher on piano. Kit Lambert is absent for most of the sessions and it is believed Jack Adams does most of the producing. On the 16th, The Who lay down "Won't Get Fooled Again", "Behind Blue Eyes" and a long jam cover of Marvin Gaye's "Baby Don't You Do It" that Pete has shoehorned into the Life House plot.

On the 17th, they record "The Note" (later re-titled "Pure and Easy") and a long "Love Ain't For Keeping" with Pete on vocals. On the next day they record "I'm in Tune" (later "Getting in Tune") and another "Behind Blue Eyes." Although none of the tracks are released at the time, they come to light two decades later with the release of the bootleg From Lifehouse To Leeds. The Who retrieve the tape and begin officially releasing it during the 1990's re-issue program.

During the sessions Keith dresses up as a wasp and, so attired, he and Pete visit Pete's idol guitarist Link Wray who is recording in an adjoining studio.

On the 19th, The Who attend a Humble Pie concert at the Fillmore East.

During the sessions Pete learns from co-manager Chris Stamp that Kit's frequent absences from the recording sessions are due to his growing heroin addiction. Then, for the kicker, Pete, while arriving to meet Kit in the Navarro Hotel, overhears him making dismissive remarks about him and the Life House project. Pete takes this betrayal by his manager and mentor badly, having a nervous breakdown, hallucinating and, at one point, trying to jump out the window. He decides to abandon the project to keep his sanity, and he and Roger head back to London.

Pete hands copies of the Record Plant tapes over to Glyn Johns for mixing. Johns tells Pete the Record Plant productions are inadequate but that the material is so strong it could make a great album. Could he have a crack at producing it? Pete gives his permission, thereby kicking Lambert from production.

April 1971

New music releases: Sticky Fingers - The Rolling Stones; 4 Way Street - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; L.A. Woman - The Doors; "Take Me Home, Country Roads" - John Denver
John Entwistle booked

On the 1st, John releases his and The Who's first commercial solo record "I Believe In Everything" backed with "My Size." To promote it he hires a stagecoach with livery to deliver the single to Harlequin Records in London. The stagecoach ends up getting a parking ticket. Record Mirror opines: "...maybe a trifle minor key at first, but it goes along well, with a distinctive sound and some compelling chugging from behind. It's certainly commercial in a quiet, persuasive way." Released only in Europe at this time, it fails to chart.

On the 5th, Keith performs again as part of an All-Star Jam Session at the Bumpers Club in London.

Stargroves Hall

On the 6th, The Who reunite with Glyn Johns now in the producer's chair instead of Kit Lambert. Their first session takes place at Stargroves, Mick Jagger's Victorian mansion in Newbury, Berkshire, using The Rolling Stones Mobile Studio. Setting the band up in a hallway, Johns records a blistering version of "Won't Get Fooled Again" that becomes the finished release version. Recording continues through the 7th.

Electric Tommy LP

On the 10th, Billboard lists the newly released LP Electric Tommy by Joe Renzetti and Tony Luisi. Renzetti previously scored commercials and performed the album with non-MOOG electronic instruments. It is the first release covering a large part of the Who's opera.

Having had such a success with his first try, Johns easily talks The Who into continuing recording at his home studio, Olympic Sound Studios in Barnes, South West London. The first sessions run from the 9th through the 12th and include a new recording of "I Don't Even Know Myself" that will end up on the B-side of the "Won't Get Fooled Again" single, plus the release versions of "Bargain", "Time Is Passing", and "Too Much of Anything". Tracks that are known to have been recorded at Olympic sometime between these sessions and the end of May include the release versions of "Love Ain't for Keeping", "Going Mobile", "Behind Blue Eyes" and the Odds and Sods version of "Pure and Easy".

Tommy Ballet Playbill

On the 13th, Les Grands Ballet Canadiens premiere a ballet version of Tommy at New York's City Center. The performances take place while the 2 LP disc is played over loudspeakers. Clive Barnes in The New York Times finds it better than he expected but unremarkable.

Dave Marsh writes about "I Can't Explain," his all-time favorite rock song, in Creem.

Melody Maker 17 Apr 1971

On the 17th, Melody Maker runs the ninth and last Pete Townshend Page called "Things are different across the sea." In it he compares U.S. audiences to British audiences and discusses the need of English bands to make it in America to be financially successful.

On the 23rd, a safety copy of The Record Plant sessions is made at the Record Plant. It is marked "Not to Be Played without written permission", presumably by Kit Lambert. On the same day the Rolling Stones' album Sticky Fingers, featuring uncredited background vocals by Pete on "Sway," is released in the U.K.

Pete Townshend holding daughter Aminta

On the 24th, Pete and Karen's 2nd daughter, Aminta Alice, is born. The same day's NME carries an interview with John entitled "I had to do a solo album or I'd go out of my mind."

On the 25th, The Who return to the Young Vic Theatre in London to rehearse for the next day's recording.

On the 26th, the Who perform some of their new material, mixed with oldies and covers, at the Young Vic, professionally recorded by Glyn Johns' younger brother Andy and engineered by Ian Stewart outside in The Rolling Stones' mobile recording van. It does not come out at the time but does leak out as a popular bootleg, before being released in small batches beginning in the late 1980's with the entire performance released in 2023 on the Who's Next / Life House boxset.

Bette Midler as The Acid Queen 1971

On the 28th, the Seattle Opera premiers its version of Tommy at The Moore Theatre. Bette Midler stars as Tommy's mother and the Acid Queen. It runs through May 16th. Bette Midler: "As we envisioned [The Acid Queen], it had nothing to do with drugs but was about the pervasiveness of female sexuality...larger than life, suffocating.".

May 1971

New music releases: Carpenters - The Carpenters; "Mr. Big Stuff" - Jean Knight; Every Picture Tells a Story - Rod Stewart; What's Going On? - Marvin Gaye
Mike Heron LP

On the 7th, Mike Heron releases his album Smiling Men with Bad Reputations. One track, "Warm Heart Pastry," has the guitar, bass and drums credited to "Tommy and the Bijoux." In reality they are Pete, Keith and Ronnie Lane.

The Who Sunderland flyer

Also on the 7th, The Who begin a series of unpublicized shows in the U.K. that allow them to work on their stage presentation of the technically complex Life House songs before beginning a major tour. The first show is at the Top Rank Suite in Sunderland. Admission is 50p.

On the 8th, Melody Maker interviews John about his new solo album and Record Mirror interviews Roger about the collapse of the Life House project.

On the 11th, 5 reels containing the Olympic Studios recording by The Who over the past two months are sent to Kit Lambert for review.

The Who backstage May 1971

On the 13th, The Who continue their unpublicized U.K. tour at the Kinetic Circus in Birmingham followed by Liverpool University (14th) and Caird Hall in Dundee, Scotland (23rd).

Smash Your Head Against The Wall LP

On the 14th, John releases The Who's first solo LP, Smash Your Head Against The Wall in the U.K. and Europe. Keith Moon provides part of the drumming on the track "No. 29 (External Youth)." The album fails to make the U.K. charts.

During the last month of recording for Who's Next at Olympic, the release versions of "Baba O'Riley" with Dave Arbus on violin, "My Wife", "Let's See Action" (with Nicky Hopkins), and "When I Was a Boy" are finished. Also recorded is a remake of "Naked Eye" with Nicky Hopkins on piano that is not released until 2023.

Rolling Stone June 10, 1971

Rolling Stone prints an interview with John. They misspell his last name in the interview's title.

Promo picture for film Heads

On the 22nd, Chris Charlesworth pens an article in Melody Maker about the stereo system in Keith's Rolls Royce. On the same day, Pete's face appears in an experimental movie by Peter Gidal called Heads screened at the National Film Theatre in London. The 34-minute silent movie shot in 1969 consists of head shots of famous people.

On the 28th, the backing track of the release version of "Song Is Over" and "Getting in Tune", both with Nicky Hopkins on piano, are recorded. Overdubs and vocals for the backing track are recorded later. Glyn Johns also prepares the final mix for "Won't Get Fooled Again".

June 1971

New music releases: Blue - Joni Mitchell; "Move On Up" - Curtis Mayfield; "Tired of Being Alone" - Al Green; "Riders on the Storm" - The Doors

On the 5th, Glyn Johns prepares the first mix of "Bargain".

On the 11th Beach Boy Dennis Wilson puts his hand through a window severing tendons. Needing a drummer for their November 1971 tour and knowing how keen Keith is on it, The Beach Boys offer him the temporary assignment. Preparations for the forthcoming Who's Next tour keeps Keith from his dream job.

Won't Get Fooled Again US 45

On the 17th, the first tracks from the recent sessions are released. "Won't Get Fooled Again" in a version edited down to 3:55 backed with "I Don't Even Know Myself" is released in the U.S. The A-side states under the song title "From the Motion Picture 'Lifehouse'." It peaks at #15 on the Billboard charts and #9 on the Cash Box charts. Two places where the single does well is the Singapore and Malaysian charts where the single goes to #1. The European release follows on the 25th where it reaches #9 in the British charts. The B-side is retitled "Don't Know Myself." Nick Logan in Melody Maker calls the A-side "The Who at their most aggressive, riffy and it's reminiscent in parts of the Stones - particularly in the way the guitars mesh and snarl their answer to the title line. An excellent performance."

On the 18th, Glyn Johns prepares the final mixes for "Bargain" and "Getting in Tune".

On the 26th, Keith introduces Sha Na Na's headlining set at the Reading Festival.

On the 30th, additional mixing is done on "Let's See Action".

July 1971

New music releases: Who's Next - The Who; "Maggie May" - Rod Stewart; "Ain't No Sunshine" - Bill Withers; Master of Reality - Black Sabbath
The Who Dunstable 1971 ad

The Who's "unpublicized" tour of the U.K. resumes at the Assembly Rooms in Worthing on the 1st. Other shows of this tour are at City Hall in Sheffield (3rd), De Montfort Hall in Leicester (4th - 2300 attend), The Pavilion in Bath (8th), the Civic Hall in Dunstable (10th), the Winter Gardens in Eastbourne (12th) and the Town Hall in Watford (15th).

Who Unreleased bootleg

On the 3rd, Melody Maker reports on the appearance of a new Who bootleg in the U.S., Who Unreleased. Seven of the ten tracks are British Who releases that had not yet come out in the States.

The Who Monolith shot
Photo: Ethan Russell

On the way to the Leicester show on the 4th, The Who are discussing Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey when they spy concrete "monoliths" in a slag heap. These monoliths had been placed there to keep the slagheap from shifting. The Who run out to a monolith and pretend to be apes "discovering" it while photographer Ethan Russell, who had accompanied them to the show, shoots pictures. One of the pictures shows The Who walking away from the monolith after apparently urinating on it (with the exception of Pete, the urine is actually water poured down the monolith from film cans). It later becomes the cover of the Who's Next album.

On the 7th, The Who mime a performance of "Won't Get Fooled Again" for Top of the Pops. It airs on the 15th.

The Who Gary Herman book

Shortly before the below event of the 14th, Gary Herman's book The Who is published in the U.K. With long interviews with Roger and John and a history and analysis of The Who up through Tommy, it is the first serious book about The Who as artists.

Who's Next launch party

On the 14th, Keith Moon holds a Who's Next listening party for the press and friends at his home Tara, a bizarre multi-pyramid-shaped structure that he had recently purchased for £65,000. The album is blasted out while The Who lounge on the lawn and the press snap away. During the party Pete is confronted by writers for the underground paper International Times about the meaning of the song "Won't Get Fooled Again" which they think is a betrayal of the youth Revolution. The party ends with a fireworks display.

Rolling Stone prints an interview with Pete. He explains the collapse of Life House and the possibility of it being resurrected as a movie called "Joad."

Pete Townshend NME 17 July 1971

On the 17th, Nick Logan interviews Pete in New Musical Express. "Christ almighty," Pete proclaims, "we thought, here we are being told we are musical geniuses and all we are is a bunch of scumbags...we've never felt we were a good musical band. We've always been like a gimmicky band...[Tommy] was mainly a brilliant example of the ad man visualizing that Kit, in conjunction with myself, was so good at...I don't think Kit really understood the fact that the group wanted to improve its sound, as well as other things." In the same day's Melody Maker, Chris Charlesworth reviews the Dunstable show and says The Who are still the "most exciting live band in existence."

Keith Moon drag ad

The same day Roger discusses the possibility of playing Tommy in a film in Record Mirror and in New Musical Express Pete talks about the replacement of Kit Lambert with Glyn Johns as co-producer for Who's Next. Billboard magazine prints a full-page ad that features Keith in drag. It promotes "Won't Get Fooled Again" and their upcoming U.S. tour.

Early Heather and Roger Daltrey
Photo: Barrie Wentzell

On the 19th, Roger marries his second wife, 24-year old American model Heather Taylor, at the Battle Registry Office in East Sussex. On the same day, Keith sits in on a session with Paul McCartney's brother's band The Scaffold, playing drums on their song "Do The Albert."

Who's Next LP

On the 27th, Who's Next is released in the U.S. ahead of its release in the rest of the world. John Mendelsohn in Rolling Stone calls it "intelligently-conceived, superbly-performed, brilliantly-produced, and sometimes even exciting rock and roll." Dave Marsh in Creem also likes the album despite what he calls weak points in some songs. Lydia Argyle and Ed Kelleher in Circus feel it should be put in a time capsule for future generations to marvel at. Despite its now classic status in the rock pantheon, Who's Next stalls at #4 in the U.S. charts.

Roger Daltrey Forest Hills 1971
Photo: Barbara Mathe

On the 29th, the first U.S. tour of 1971 begins at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in New York. It rains so hard that The Who have to perform with rubber mats on their shoes to stave off electrocution. The show kicks off with "Love Ain't For Keeping" and includes other new songs, "Pure and Easy," "My Wife," "Bargain," "Behind Blue Eyes," and "Won't Get Fooled Again." Not only does Pete smash two guitars, but John also smashes his Gibson Thunderbird bass. The opening act is Labelle. Tragedy partly overshadows the show as 22-year old usher George Byington is stabbed to death by a gatecrasher. Fan Ira Zadikow shoots part of this show in 8mm.

On the 30th Pete is interviewed in The Times. He discusses Mick Jagger's fascination with The Who, his desire for a film project, and how tired he is of Tommy.

On the 31st, The Who make a second stand at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. The rains have stopped, but due to them, the stage is overrun with cockroaches. Fortunately Pete is there with his Doc Martens and makes quick work of them.

Mancini Concert LP

Also on the 31st, Henry Mancini's album Mancini Concert hits the U.S. charts. It features a cover of "Overture (from Tommy)."

August 1971

New music releases: A Space in Time - Ten Years After; "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" - Joan Baez; "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" - Paul & Linda McCartney; "Superstar" - The Carpenters

On the 1st, members of The Who attend the Bangladesh charity concert with George Harrison and friends at Madison Square Garden and jam with them at the post-concert party held at Ungano's.

The Who Saratoga Springs 1971
Photo: Jeff Stein and Chris Johnston

The Who's U.S. tour continues on the 2nd at the Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, New York. For one of the first times, The Who's show is shown on closed-circuit monitors for the benefit of back-row patrons. In addition, two young American Who fans, Jeff Stein and Chris Johnston, are allowed to photograph the band from the wings.

Aug 3 1971 ad

On the 3rd The Who play The Spectrum in Philadelphia followed by a four-night stand at the Music Hall in Boston (4th, 5th, 6th and 7th). The Who don't lower their sound for the small size of the Music Hall and, on the 5th, when people in the audience stick their fingers in their ears, Pete threatens to throw his guitar at them. By the 6th, Roger has had enough and demands on stage that Pete turn down. Pete refuses so Roger kicks over Pete's amps. One hits a roadie who has to be taken to hospital. Roger storms off and The Who finish with an instrumental set. Rod Stewart, Kenny Jones and the rest of the Faces cancel a planned jam with The Who during the encore.

On the 7th, The Who were to have played the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut but it is cancelled by police and city officials after a clash between police and concert goers at previous Grateful Dead and Grand Funk Railroad shows. Instead, The Who play one more night in Boston. Labelle is the opening act on all nights except the 4th and 5th which is Mylon.

Aug 12, 1971 article

On the 9th The Who play the War Memorial Auditorium in Rochester, New York, the 10th sees them at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh and the 12th at the Public Hall in Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to this show Pete is interviewed on WMMS-FM where he declares, "we've been careful not to preach and careful not to teach." On the 13th, The Who play the Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio.

Also on the 14th, a pre-recorded interview with Pete is aired on BBC Radio 1's Scene and Heard.

Also on the 14th, in the U.K., "Won't Get Fooled Again" reaches its U.K. chart peak at #9, repeating the position the next week.

Also on the 14th, Keith appears in a taped performance on Viv Stanshall's BBC Radio One program Radio Flashes. Other Keith appearances occur on the 21st and 28th.

The Who Southern Illinois U 1971

The rest of the U.S. tour takes place at the Cobo Arena in Detroit (14th), the Metropolitan Sports Center in Minneapolis (15th), Southern Illinois University (16th), and three nights at the redundantly-named The Auditorium Theater in Chicago. John Swenson reviews the first night and says the volume was literally painful.

Denver authorities ban planned Who shows there on the 22nd and 24th because of a riot at a Jethro Tull concert the previous June and Mayor John Lindsay bans what was to have been a free Who concert in Central Park scheduled for the 29th.

So with nothing left to do, Roger and Keith fly back to London on the 20th. Pete was to join them but is kicked off the plane for excessive inebriation. He gets a flight out the next day. John stays behind to do some shopping.

Pete Townshend Aug. 1971
Photo: Chris Morphet

On the 21st Pete is interviewed in the New Musical Express and tells what it feels like to be the ripe old age of 26. He also gives a song-by-song analysis of Who's Next. A Pete interview appears in Crawdaddy where he explains what he meant by "Won't Get Fooled Again." In the same issue, John Swenson does an in-depth and very favorable review of John's solo album Smash Your Head against the Wall. John, meanwhile, spends his time off in New York buying a Gibson J200 acoustic guitar at Manny's.

Who's Next UK ad

On the 25th, Who's Next is finally released in the U.K. on Track Records, almost a full month after its U.S. release. It does better in the U.K. charts, reaching #1, the only time an album by The Who tops the charts in any country.

On the 31st, Pete records the song version of Meher Baba's universal prayer "O Parvardigar." It is later released on the Meher Baba album I Am and Pete's Who Came First LP.

September 1971

New music releases: Imagine - John Lennon; Santana III - Santana; Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 - Johnny Cash; "Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves" - Cher

The Who were to have played a free concert in Hyde Park on the 4th, but it is canceled. On the same day, "Won't Get Fooled Again" hits its peak in Sweden's Tio i Topp charts at #15.

On the 6th, The Who make their last special appearance on BBC Radio on The Johnnie Walker Show. It is repeated on the 20th.

The same day was the scheduled start date for the filming of Tommy by Universal Pictures. The deal fell through after the studio rejected Who manager Kit Lambert's script.

International Times 9 Sept 1971

On the 9th, International Times magazine publishes a statement attacking the song "Won't Get Fooled Again" for its negative view of the Revolution. "...the danger in the new single seems to be that it fails to differentiate between the megalomanias and the courageous individual who is prepared to stand up and voice the sentiment 'fuck you' to authority."

On the 11th, Who's Next hits its peak on the Billboard charts at #4, repeating the position the next week. Keeping the record from the top spot are Every Picture Tells a Story by Rod Stewart, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour by The Moody Blues and Tapestry by Carole King.

Circus carries an interview with Pete where he discusses the technical problems associated with Who's Next.

A Who conference is held at Roger's home in Burwash, Sussex. The meeting is filmed in colour by Richard Stanley and Chris Morphet as The Who talk about the possibility of a Who movie. In many of the scenes, Pete talks about his fears that The Who is becoming a cabaret act with stage business that is overshadowing their music. Several such scenes, appearing in black-and-white, will later be used in the movie The Kids Are Alright.

On the 16th, Who's Next is certified gold by the RIAA. On the same day, The Who begin rehearsals with their new £20,000 7 and a half ton Sunn PA and lightning system.

The Who Kennington Oval Cricket Ground 1971
Photo: Gijsbert Hanekroot

On the 18th, two months after George Harrison held a similar event at Madison Square Garden, The Who hold a benefit concert for Bangladesh at the Kennington Oval Cricket Ground in London. The Who's roadies wear cricket uniforms and Keith plays the drums at one point with a cricket bat. The opening acts are The Faces, Mott the Hoople, Atomic Rooster, Quintessence and others. Thirty-five thousand attend and £15,000 is raised with £9,148 coming directly from the Who. The concert is recorded but unlike Harrison's show is never released after negotiations between the various groups break down.

On the same day Who's Next hits #1 in the British charts; The Who's only official #1 in Britain. Meanwhile, "Won't Get Fooled Again" peaks at #15 on the U.S. Billboard charts, repeating in the same position the next week.

International Times 23 Sept 1971

On the 23rd, International Times prints Pete's response to the attack on "Won't Get Fooled Again". He describes the song as "...mainly a song which screams defiance at those who feel that any cause is better than no cause, that death in a sick society is better than putting up with it or resigning themselves to wait for change."

On the 25th, the production master for The Who's next album, Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy, is compiled at Apple Studios.

Melody Maker 25 Sept 1971

Also on the 25th in Melody Maker, Pete warns of a change coming soon in rock but doesn't know what direction it will be. "I don't think rock music is keeping up with the audience's demands. Nowadays there are different kinds of audience: the ones who like rock because of its glamour, the extreme left-wingers who use it as a political vehicle and the intellectuals who see in rock a high intellectual content. There is definitely a need for the barriers between an audience and the group to breakdown." In the same issue a fan attacks The Who for their high ticket prices calling them capitalists hiding behind a banner of anti-materialism. The letter is sparked by the outrageous ticket prices for The Who's upcoming tour, some as high as £3.50.

Nevertheless some fans manage to scrape up enough money to see The Who open their fall U.K. tour at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester on the 28th.

On the same day, Who's Next enters the Kvällstoppen Swedish sales chart where it will peak at #14.

Keith Moon milk float

Keith buys a milk float [U.S. - a milk delivery van] to show off to a photographer who comes on the 30th to take pictures of his cars. Keith owns many cars despite his inability to drive. John and his chauffeur "Dougal" Butler drop by for the photo shoot and Keith hires Dougal away as his own chauffeur.

October 1971

New music releases: Elvis Sings the Wonderful World of Christmas - Elvis Presley; "American Pie" - Don McLean; "Imagine" - John Lennon; Teaser and The Firecat - Cat Stevens

On the 1st, the new Scaffold single, "Do The Albert," featuring Keith on drums is released in the U.K. It does not chart.

On the 2nd The Who continue their unpublicized college tour of Britain at Reading University. This show may be where The Who first attempted a live performance of "Baba O'Riley" which would go on to become a staple of their live shows.

Also on the 2nd, Billboard reports that "Won't Get Fooled Again" has peaked at #6 in Canada.

On the 3rd, in The New York Times, Clive Barnes has an article about the future of ballets set to rock music using the recent staging of Tommy as an example. Les Grands Ballet's ballet has just returned to New York for a second run.

Pete Townshend Guilford 1971
Photo: Robert Ellis

On the 9th The Who play another secret show at the Surrey University Gymnasium in Guildford. John Sebastian, then Keith's house guest, plays harmonica on stage with The Who during the encore. It is followed on the 10th by the final secret concert at the Elliot Masters House at Kent University.

Also on the 9th, New Musical Express carries a rather sober interview with Keith about rock and drumming for The Who.

And again on the 9th, John's first solo album Smash Your Head Against The Wall is finally released by Decca/MCA in the U.S. It peaks at #126.

On the 12th, BBC-2's The Old Grey Whistle Test airs the movie Summertime Blues featuring The Who's Woodstock performances of "See Me Feel Me," "Summertime Blues" and the end of "My Generation."

Let's See Action Netherlands picture sleeve

On the 15th, two tracks left over from the Who's Next album sessions, "Let's See Action" backed with "When I Was A Boy," are released. Derek Johnson in New Musical Express calls it "a much less berserk item than the majority of the group's discs...This could fare better than many of The Who's singles, because its appeal should be wider than that of the group's heavier work." It reaches #16 in the U.K. charts. The single is released everywhere in the world except the U.S. where Decca decides to pull the two album tracks "Behind Blue Eyes" and "My Wife" for a single release. It peaks at #34 in Billboard and #24 in Cash Box.

Also this month, Polydor releases "Baba O'Riley" as a single in continental Europe and Australia/New Zealand. It peaks at #13 in the Netherlands charts.

Dave Marsh writes "A Who primer" for Creem in the manner of a grade-school reader.

Pete Townshend Melody Maker 16 Oct 1971

On the 16th, Melody Maker has the article: "The Raver: by the light of the looning Moon" about John Sebastian's appearance onstage during a Who concert and Keith meeting him at Heathrow dressed as a chauffeur. There is also an essay/response from Pete about a letter claiming The Who were capitalists in disguise called "Creators or capitalists?" Pete says higher ticket prices have enabled The Who to put on a higher quality show and to improve rock as a whole.

The Who 1971 UK tour ad

On the 18th, The Who have a chance to show off that higher quality show as The Who's fully-promoted British tour begins at the Guild Hall in Southampton. From there they go to the Odeon Cinema in Birmingham (20th) and Green's Playhouse in Glasgow (21st). In Glasgow Keith taunts the crowd with a police bullhorn so Pete throws him to the floor and pours vodka down the bullhorn to silence him.

From there it's on to the Blackpool Opera House (22nd) where The High Numbers opened for The Beatles seven years before and Liverpool University (23rd), The Who's last university performance in the U.K. until 2006.

Also on the 23rd Melody Maker prints an interview with Roger by Chris Welch called "Squire Daltrey" conducted at Roger's country home. Of Who's Next, Roger says "It's good for what it is, treading water." He also reports that the Life House project is now being written as a film called "Guitar Farm" with shooting scheduled to begin January 1972. "Guitar Farm" is actually a script written by friends of Pete prior to the composition of Life House that inspired some of the action in the latter work.

The Who Hull newspapaer report

The 24th finds The Who at Trentham Gardens in Stoke-on-Trent followed by the Odeon Cinema in Manchester (28th) and the ABC Cinema in Hull (29th). Before Hull, Keith says something offensive to a visiting Sandie Shaw so Pete gets in a loud argument with him and ends by stuffing Keith into a wardrobe and nailing him into it. This, of course, delays the performance and The Who have to shorten their set.

200 Motels poster

On the 29th, Frank Zappa's movie 200 Motels, featuring Keith playing a nun, has its world premiere at the Doheny Plaza in Beverly Hills, California.

Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy US cover

On the 30th, Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy is released in the U.S. First pressings include an insert with notes. This collection of Who singles is the first time many U.S. Who fans hear the group's pre-Tommy catalog and several tracks such as "I Can't Explain" and "Substitute" become rock radio staples after years of cultish obscurity. To help matters along, Decca/MCA also re-releases "I Can't Explain"/"Bald Headed Woman" and "My Generation"/"Out in the Street" on 45. The album peaks at #11 in the U.S. charts and remains the most-loved of all the many, many, many Who best-of compilations.

Also on the 30th, Melody Maker carries a letter in response to Pete's October 16th response. The writer says he is not impressed by Pete's "self-conscious humility" and he should quit feeling guilty about being wealthy and just make good music.

Billboard reports that "Won't Get Fooled Again" has hit #5 in Israel and made it to #1 in Singapore.

The month wraps up with a performance at the Odeon Cinema in Newcastle on the 30th.

November 1971

New music releases: Led Zeppelin IV - Led Zeppelin; Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Vol. II - Bob Dylan; Fragile - Yes; "Let's Stay Together" - Al Green
Peter Rudge

Around this time Peter Rudge takes over the Who's management for their U.S. tours and other projects from the increasingly remote Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp.

The Who at 1971 Rainbow Opening
Photo: Claude Gassian

On the 4th, The Who open the new Rainbow Theatre in London. A chorus line of dancers precedes the show and Keith goes into the audience to yell for The Who to come on. Pete wears a silver lamé boiler suit with the Rainbow Theatre logo on the back. At the end of the show the chorus line comes back out and The Who join them for a few high kicks. Quiver is the opening act. The Who also play at the Rainbow on the 5th and 6th. On the 5th, ITV's Today programme shows The Who from the night before performing "See Me Feel Me."

On the 6th in Melody Maker, Pete writes another defense of The Who's higher ticket prices but apparently runs out of patience and sarcastically proclaims he only pretends to believe what he says and is just trying to rip off his fans.

The Who Are Back!

On the 9th, The Who are off to Green's Playhouse in Glasgow, Scotland. They agreed to play another date here after riots erupted over sold-out tickets to their last show there.

On the 12th, "Baba O'Riley" peasks at #11 on Netherland's Hilversum Top 30.

Great Blind Degree LP

On the 13th, Richie Havens' LP The Great Blind Degree hits the U.S. charts. It features a track called "Tommy," a cover of a small snippet from the rock opera.

Record producer Lou Reizner approaches Pete with the idea of releasing a fully orchestrated version of Tommy. Pete gives his blessing, forgetting that his manager Kit Lambert had dearly wanted to orchestrate the opera. Kit is deeply hurt when he finds out which drives another wedge between Pete and Kit.

Rolling Stone prints a lengthy review of Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy written by Pete and also a note about a small college production of Tommy that was denied the right to tour by Track Music.

On the 18th, The Who fly to New York to rehearse for their second U.S. tour of 1971.

On the 20th, Billboard reports that "Won't Get Fooled Again" has peaked at #10 in Poland.

Also on the 20th, The Who sponsor a Mini Cooper S in the Daily Mirror Rally of Great Britain. Models posed at the starting gate wear Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy t-shirts. The car breaks down in Scotland.

The Who Charlotte ad 1971

That night, The Who open the tour at the Charlotte (North Carolina) Coliseum. They are the first rock act to sell out this venue. Keith greets the crowd, "It's nice to see so many people in Charlotte. I didn't know there WAS this many people in Charlotte!" The pre-recorded tapes mess up and Pete almost drags Bobby Pridden over the amplifiers.

The Who Tuscaloosa ad 1971

After Charlotte, The Who head on to the University of Alabama Memorial Coliseum in Tuscaloosa on the 22nd followed by the Municipal Auditorium in Atlanta on the 23rd.

On the 24th, Pete pays his first visit to the Meher Baba Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and spends the night in the Lantern Cabin where Baba himself stayed.

The Who Miami Beach ad 1971

On the 25th, the tour continues with two nights at the Convention Center in Miami Beach (25th and 26th).


On the 26th, Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy is released by Track in the U.K. Kit Lambert had delayed the release trying to change the song selection but failed as too many copies had already been pressed. The album peaks at #9 in the charts.

Also on the 26th, Billboard reports that Who's Next has hit #2 in France and Belgium, #3 in Denmark and #6 in Norway. Meanwhile "Won't Get Fooled Again" is #1 in Malaysia.

The tour heads on to the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis (28th). Keith has enough energy after the show to renovate his hotel room. Total cost (to The Who): $1400.

The Who at a Warehouse ad

The month winds up with two nights at The Warehouse in New Orleans (29th and 30th). The first night at The Warehouse is later booted as Gutter Punks At A Warehouse. While in New Orleans manager Chris Stamp brings in rock critic Nik Cohn to work on the script for a Who movie. Pete suggests the title "Rock Is Dead, Long Live Rock" about the history and personalities of The Who. Nik accompanies the band on tour and interviews them for the script.

December 1971

New music releases: Hot Rocks 1964-1971 - The Rolling Stones; "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" - John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band; America - America; Music - Carole King
The Who Houston 1971

The Who's Who's Next North American tour continues on the 1st at Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston. On the 2nd they play the Memorial Auditorium in Dallas.

Who poster Denver 1971

On the 4th and 5th, The Who are at the Coliseum in Denver. John Swenson interviews all four members at length for the magazine Crawdaddy.

Also on the 4th, The Who compilation LP Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy hits its U.S. chart peak at #11 in Billboard.

On the 7th, they play the Veteran's Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix and on the 8th and 9th they are at the Forum in Los Angeles. For these two shows The Who insist that the first ten rows are for the general public only.

The Who The Battle for the Gold

After the show on the 9th, The Who attend a party at the Top of the Strip at the Continental Hyatt House on Sunset Strip where they receive gold and platinum discs for Who's Next and Live At Leeds. Mick and Bianca Jagger, John and Catherine Sebastian and 'Mama' Cass Elliot are also present. Pete tries to grab all the discs and the rest of The Who jump on him starting a melee.

While The Who are in Los Angeles, Pete and Keith have a jam session with Billy Preston and Charlie Starr.

On the 10th is a show at the Long Beach Arena. At one point Pete reminds the audience, "this is a fuckin' rock 'n' roll concert, not a fuckin' tea party!" His rant becomes the opening for the 30 Years Of Maximum R&B boxset. The entire show is also bootlegged as Closer to Queen Mary. On the same day The Los Angeles Free Press begins the first part of a huge four-part interview with Pete.

Melody Maker 11-12-71

On the 11th, a Chris Charlesworth interview with Nicky Hopkins appears in Melody Maker. The great British keyboard session man says that Pete had recently offered him a permanent place in The Who's lineup.

Also on the 11th, "Let's See Action" enters the Dutch chart where it will peak at #28 and John's solo album Smash Your Head Against the Wall reaches its U.S. chart peak at #143 in Billboard.

The Who San Francisco 1971
Photo: Jim Marshall

On the 12th and 13th, The Who head up the coast to San Francisco's Civic Auditorium. On the first night Keith overdoses on pills and begins to pass out halfway through the show. His minder Dougal Butler and a free-clinic doctor have to sneak up behind Keith while he is playing and inject cortisone shots into his legs to keep him upright. The night of the 13th is recorded and tracks later officially released: "Baby Don't You Do It" on the b-side of "Join Together", and more in the 1980s and 1990s until the entire concert is officially released on the Who's Next / Life House boxset in 2023.

The Who Seattle ticket 1971

The last show of the tour is at the Seattle Center Coliseum. On the way one of the equipment truck crashes and fails to make it to the show. The Who are forced to borrow equipment from the opening act.

The next day The Who return to London except for Keith who flies to New York.

Nik Cohn

Nik Cohn recounts his recent adventures touring with The Who in this month's Creem magazine. He accompanied the band, ostensibly to adapt the script of "Guitar Farm" for The Who but he is actually writing a script called "Rock Is Dead (Rock Lives)" where a young Who fan embodies the four members of The Who within himself. Pete, meanwhile, is envisioning a sort-of super-A Quick One with each member writing or curating one side of a double album.

Woman Child Marsha Hunt

On the 17th, Marsha Hunt's album Woman Child is released in the U.K. on Track Records. It features Pete on guitar and backing vocals on the songs "Long Black Veil" and "Wild Thing."

On the 18th, "Behind Blue Eyes" hits its U.S. chart peak at #34 in the Billboard charts. The same issue reports "Let's See Action" is #6 in France.

Keith Moon in dress 1971

On the 28th, Keith is the emcee at Sha Na Na's Carnegie Hall concert wearing a dress and performing Frank Zappa's "Caravan With A Drum Solo."

Who's Next is voted album of the year in The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop critic's list.

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