New album releases: Permanent Waves - Rush; The Pretenders - The Pretenders; Love Stinks - The J. Geils Band; Union Jacks - The Babys
On the 8th, Pete attends a Clash concert at Brighton Top Rank. From a book by their road manager Johnny Green, A Riot of Their Own: Day and Night with the Clash: "In the Brighton Top Rank, the dinner-suited manager came to find me. 'There's someone at the door who's not on the guest list.' Pete Townshend was in a bright red jacket, steadying himself on the arms of two women. He came and gave a nod backstage: 'Jam up with you boys later?' 'Yeah, all right.' The band were toweling down before the encore. Townshend went back on stage with them. He came on, fists pumping the air, and I plugged his guitar in. No sound came out. I'd given him one of Mick's old guitars with a duff lead. I wandered off to replace it. I didn't hurry. He wasn't the Clash." After he gets a working guitar, he joins them for "Garageland", "Armagideon Time", "English Civil War" and "Louie Louie."
On the 16th, Variety reports The Who have left their U.S. record label MCA and signed to Warner Brothers Records for $12 million dollars.
Chet Flippo writes a lengthy report on December's Cincinnati tragedy for Rolling Stone . He reveals that various citizens and city officials had warned that something like this was going to happen at Riverfront Coliseum as early as three years before. In another article, promoter Larry Magid calls the tragedy a "symptom of society" that could happen again.
During the month, Pete and Kenney Jones demo Pete's new songs "Don't Let Go The Coat" at A.I.R. Studio One, London and "You Better You Bet" at Eel Pie Studios, London.
New album releases: Against The Wind - Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band; Mad Love - Linda Ronstadt; Bé:bé: le Strange - Heart; ...But The Little Girls Understand - The Knack
Around the 13th, Pete arrives in Los Angeles to visit director Nicholas Roeg in an effort to get him to direct a film of Lifehouse. Roeg is not at his Los Angeles residence but his then-girlfriend, actress Theresa Russell, is. Pete, Theresa and a friend end up going that night to see Pink Floyd perform The Wall live. Before or after the show Pete uses cocaine, later saying it was the first time he had used hard drugs since becoming a Meher Baba disciple. Whether it was the influence of the drugs are the beauty of his companion, Pete becomes strongly infatuated with Ms. Russell and the next day shows up at Theresa's doorstep to make a plea for her affection. She turns down the smitten Townshend. This incident and financial woes brought on by The Who's film company investment, bring the second attempt to film Lifehouse to a failed conclusion.
On the 15th, Pete assembles his demo reel of songs for the new Who album at Warner Brothers Recording Studios - Studio C in North Hollywood. It is an all-night drink-and-drug-fueled session with Pete recording the demo for "Theresa," later retitled "Athena" for The Who's It's Hard album (Pete's demo is later released on Scoop 3) and guitar and vocal overdubs for the song "What Is Love".
On the 18th, Pete is back in London to play his demo tape for the assembled Who. The probable track listing is "Theresa," "It's In You," "How Can You Do It Alone," "Daily Records," "You Better You Bet," "Dirty Water," "Don't Let Go The Coat," "Dance It Away" and "What Is Love." The band is not enthused by what they hear. After listening time is over, Pete surprises Who mixman Bob Pridden by demanding he go out and score him some cocaine.
On the 23rd, Keith Altham, The Who's press agent, defends The Who in a letter to Melody Maker. It is a reply to a letter from a fan who felt the group had lost contact with the record-buying public.
New album releases: Glass Houses - Billy Joel; Women and Children First - Van Halen; Departure - Journey; Loverboy - Loverboy
Around the 14th, Pete releases his first completely solo single, "Rougn Boys" in the U.K. "And I Moved" is on the B-side. It will peak at #39, Pete's only Top Forty solo hit in the U.K.
At the same time, "I'm The Face" backed with "Zoot Suit" is re-released as a single in the U.K. to coincide with the new Mod revival. It will reach #49 in the British charts.
Steve Clarke's collection of Who quotes, The Who In Their Own Words, is published.
Around this time, John Entwistle begins work on his forthcoming solo album, Too Late The Hero at Crystal Studios, Los Angeles.
On the 19th, Pete is filmed miming to "Rough Boys" for the Kenny Everett Video Show accompanied by Kenney Jones.
On the 22nd, New Musical Express reports that Pete's only copy of the script of Lifehouse was accidentally sent to record producer Nick Lowe instead of film director Nicholas Roeg. Lowe threw the script in the trash but it was later retrieved and returned to Pete
The Who begin their 1980 European tour with a two-night stay at the Grugahalle in Essen, Germany on the 26th and 27th. On the 28th, they play the Zurcher Hallenstadion in Zurich, Switzerland. That night Pete, having been accused by those around him of behaving in a "schizophrenic" manner, decides to quit the rock 'n' roll business and become a tramp. With just his wallet, his passport and the ever-present bottle of brandy, Pete sets off on foot to the town of Berne, Switzerland. He spends 16 hours either walking or sleeping under a tree before he finally reaches his destination, the Berne Zoo, famous for its huge brown bears kept in bearpits. However, when Pete gets there it is the off-season and the bears are not there. He is discovered passed out in the empty bearpit and is flown to Vienna where The Who perform at the Stadhalle in Vienna, Austria on the night of the 30th. The events of the past two days are quickly transformed by Pete into the song "Cache Cache" for the next Who album. The last date of the month is a performance on the 31st at the Festhalle in Munich, Germany.
New album releases: Empty Glass - Pete Townshend; Middle Man - Boz Scaggs; Heaven and Hell - Black Sabbath; British Steel - Judas Priest
The Who's 1980 European Tour ends on the 1st at the Festhalle in Frankfurt, Germany.
On the 10th, Pete lands in New York City to do promotion for his solo album Empty Glass.
Joan Jett releases her first solo single "Make Believe". As repayment to The Who for allowing the use of their Ramport Studios to record part of her first album, she covers "Call Me Lightning" on the single's B-side.
On the 14th, Pete's first totally solo album, Empty Glass, is released in the U.K. The U.S. release follows on the 21st. Reviews are raves with Sounds magazine giving the album its highest rating and Paul Morley in New Musical Express saying the album shows Pete is still an important musician. The album peaks at #11 in the U.K., the highest chart position for a Pete solo record in that country. In the U.S. it shoots all the way to #5.
On the same day, The Who begin their 1980 North American Tour at the PNE Coliseum in Vancouver. Internally there is some dissension in The Who not only over touring with Pete in shaky condition but also that the tour appears to promotes Pete's solo album instead of The Who's own work. The tour heads on to the Seattle Center Coliseum on the 14th and 15th.
On the 17th, Pete is in San Francisco at the offices of Rolling Stone magazine being interviewed by Greil Marcus and photographed for the cover by Annie Liebovitz. While executing a windmill for the camera, Pete slices his hand open. Annie takes a photo of Pete with his head on his bloodied hand.
Meanwhile on the 19th back in the U.K., New Musical Express prints a new interview with Pete in which he discusses the possibility of a Lifehouse script to be written by Ray Bradbury.
The tour continues with three nights at the Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California (18th, 19th, 20th), the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah (22nd), two nights in Denver at the McNichols Arena (23rd, 24th), the Kemper Arena in Kansas City (26th), the Checkerdome in St. Louis, Missouri (28th) and the Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa (29th).
New album releases: Diana - Diana Ross; Freedom of Choice - Devo; McCartney II - Paul McCartney; 21 at 33 - Elton John
The first leg of the 1980 North American Who tour continues at the Civic Center in St. Paul, Minnesota (2nd), the Chicago Amphitheater (3rd), two nights at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto (5th and 6th) and concludes at the Montreal Forum (7th). Blackfoot is the supporting act on the last two shows.
On the 10th, Pete's solo album Empty Glass is released in the U.S. John Rockwell in The New York Times says it a success that sounds like The Who of a decade before while Jon Parales in Mademoiselle says it shows Pete has risen to the challenge set forth by punk rock. The album will ultimately reach #5 in the U.S. charts, the highest position for any solo album by a member of The Who. Also released is a promotional album The Pete Townshend Tapes, in which Pete discusses the songs on Empty Glass and what's doing with The Who.
On the 12th, The Who are on the cover of People magazine.
Roger and John McVicar attend the premiere of Roger's film McVicar at the Cannes film festival.
At the end of the month, Rolling Stone publishes the Pete interview they had conducted back in April as a cover story. Within the interview, Pete makes some incautious remarks about how The Who continued after the 1979 Cincinnati concert disaster that imply The Who didn't care about the deaths and destruction. This inflames those persuing the lawsuit and may have scuttled a possible settlement at the time.
New album releases: The Game - Queen; Emotional Rescue - The Rolling Stones; Hold Out - Jackson Browne; Urban Cowboy/Original Soundtrack - Various Artists
On the 1st, The Who Anthology, a collection of Who songs in sheet music form, is published in the U.K.
On the 14th, Pete's solo single "Let My Love Open The Door" backed with "And I Moved" hits the U.S. charts and goes on to become Pete's biggest U.S. success as a solo artist reaching #9 in the Billboard charts and #11 in the Cash Box charts. This ties it with the highest position achieved by a Who single in the U.S., "I Can See For Miles" in 1967.
On the 21st the single hits the British charts. British fans get a different b-side with the previously unreleased tracks "Greyhound Girl" and "Classified." Apparently they don't appreciate the bonus as the single peaks at #46.
On the 18th, The Who's extensive tour of North America resumes after a six-week break. Trouble starts after the first show at the San Diego Sports Arena as Pete punches a wall and breaks several bones in his right hand. He has to wear a cast for the rest of the tour.
On the 20th, The Who start a two-night stand at the Los Angeles Forum followed on 23rd by a five-night stand at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. Supporting them on the 26th, 27th and 28th are The Only Ones, whose lead guitarist John Perry will later write a book on The Who's album Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy.
On the 30th, the tour moves to Tempe, Arizona at the ASU University Activity Center. A combination of a heat wave and having The Who perform in their town at the same time knocks out the power for 90 minutes in the middle of the show. To pass the time, Roger signs autographs while Pete plays air guitar on a broom. The supporting act is Willie Nile.
New album releases: Back In Black - AC/DC; Honeysuckle Rose/Original Soundtrack - Willie Nelson & Family; Full Moon - The Charlie Daniels Band; TP - Teddy Pendergrass
The Who's North American tour continues its Southern swing as The Who perform at the Dallas Reunion Arena on the 2nd. The 3rd finds them at the Erwin Center at the University of Texas at Austin and the 5th at The Summit in Houston. The opening act is Willie Nile.
Also on the 5th, a single from the soundtrack to Roger's film McVicar is released. "Free Me" backed with "McVicar" peaks at #53 in the Billboard charts, #44 in Cash Box.
On the 7th, The Who perform at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge the 9th at The Omni in Atlanta, the 10th at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Tennessee, the 11th at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, the 13th at Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina and the 14th at Hampton Coliseum in Hampton Roads, Virginia. The Who end their 1980 touring with an added date on the 16th at C.N.E. Stadium in Toronto with fellow acts Heart, the J. Geils Band and Nash the Slash. Hundreds suffer heat exhaustion during the daylong show.
On the 9th, it is reported that Pete wants to publish a book of erotic short stories. This is the first mention of the book that will emerge five years later as Horse's Neck.
On the 14th, Boxoffice magazine reports that The Who's manager Bill Curbishley has formed a new film company. One of his upcoming projects will be "The Hussars" starring Roger and directed by Nicholas Roeg (it never happens). The magazine also reports that McVicar is having trouble finding a U.S. distributor because it has been deemed too British for American audiences.
4" Be 2" release their single "Frustration" in the U.K. The b-side is a cover of "I Can't Explain." John Lydon's older brother Jimmy sings and the former Johnny Rotten reportedly produces the single and some claim he plays bass on the Who cover.
New album releases: Crimes of Passion - Pat Benatar; Xanadu/Original Soundtrack - Olivia Newton-John and Electric Light Orchestra; Give Me The Night - George Benson; Panorama - The Cars
On the 2nd, Roger Daltrey's solo single "Free Me" backed with "McVicar" hits the British charts. It peaks at #39, the last solo Roger single to enter the British Top Forty.
On the 11th, the Recording Industry Association of America certifies Pete's solo album Empty Glass as Gold.
The soundtrack album to Roger's film McVicar hits the U.S. charts on the 16th (it reaches #22 there) and the British charts on the 23rd (where it peaks at #39). The listing of performers on the sleeve shows that all the present members of The Who play on the record, but there is no information about which tracks they are on or whether they play any songs as a unit. Paulo Hewitt in Melody Maker pans it saying it sounds like Who Are You rejects. People magazine likes the harder-rocking songs, but finds the ballads too tame.
On the 27th, the film McVicar has its London premiere. Roger's labor of love receives generally negative reviews. David Wilson in New Statesman calls it a competent television crime show but not much more. Melody Maker and Movietone News agree. Lawrence O'Toole in Maclean's headlines his negative assessment "God save us from bored rock stars." Roger does get praise for his performance, however, in Variety and Films Illustrated.
New album releases: Kenny Rogers' Greatest Hits - Kenny Rogers; Guilty - Barbra Streisand; Blizzard of Ozz - Ozzy Osbourne; Hotter Than July - Stevie Wonder
On the 3rd and 4th The Who and manager Bill Curbishley quietly return to Cincinnati to give their depositions in a $1.2 million lawsuit brought by Todd Volkman, a survivor of the crush outside Riverfront Coliseum before The Who's 1979 concert. The depositions are held at the Cincinnati Club. The proceedings get very emotional with John reduced to tears at one point. Pete later says he found it odd that Volkman's attorney questions him as if he were some stereotypically moronic rock star. Another oddity is that just as the band are giving their testimony a group of women in a building across the street, visible only to those sitting in the chair to be questioned, begin parading around naked! The next day Volkman's attorney is interviewed in The Cincinnati Enquirer. He says that the 14 lawsuits against the Coliseum, the promoters and The Who could total "substantially over $100 million."
On the 6th, Melody Maker prints an angry rebuttal to their panning review of Roger's movie McVicar. The letter comes from John McVicar himself. He praises Roger for gambling on a risky subject.
On the 20th, Roger's second single from his McVicar LP hits the U.S. charts. The gentle ballad "Without Your Love," a cover of a Billy Nicholls' song from Pete's Meher Baba tribute LP With Love, becomes Roger's biggest solo hit in the U.S. peaking at #20 in Billboard and #23 in Cash Box. The flip side is "Escape Part 2."
On the 27th, David Bowie's LP Scary Monsters hits the British charts. It features Pete playing guitar on the song "Because You're Young."
Us magazine does an interview with Roger on the 30th. He complains about the effect of touring on his nerves: "I'm edgy after I finish a tour. After weeks of being exposed to the din of loud music, all sounds play on my sensitivity. I can't bear bells, shouting, even the hum of an electric razor. It takes about a month to adjust."
New album releases: Greatest Hits - Aerosmith; The River - Bruce Springsteen; Zenyatta Mondatta - The Police; Makin' Movies - Dire Straits
On the 11th, Roger's solo single "Without Your Love" backed with "Say It Ain't So Joe" enters the British charts where it peaks at #55.
On the same day Melody Maker prints a joint interview with Pete and Paul Weller of the Who-influenced mod band The Jam. It is the first time these two have met. Paul's advice to Pete: "If you lot are planning to continue, then change your set!"
On the 18th, the third single from Pete's solo album Empty Glass, "A Little Is Enough" backed with "Cats In The Cupboard", peaks at #72 in the U.S. Billboard charts. It reaches #89 in Cash Box.
On the 25th, The Who re-release their long out-of-print first album My Generation in the U.K. It is identical to the original release with the exception of the word "Virgin" (the label of the new release) in place of "Brunswick." Bruce Malamut reviews it in Melody Maker and calls it a timeless classic. It reaches #20 in the British charts.
New album releases: Hi Infidelity - R.E.O. Speedwagon; Eagles Live - The Eagles; The Jazz Singer/Original Soundtrack - Neil Diamond; Double Fantasy - John Lennon & Yoko Ono
On the 4th, The Who and producer Bill Szymczyk are back at work on the long-delayed Face Dances album as the soon-to-be hit single "You Better You Bet" is recorded at Odyssey Studios. Szymczyk had been unable to record The Who over the last several months due to injuries he sustained in a car accident followed by a commitment to produce The Eagles' live album.
Pete's "Rough Boys" backed with "Jools and Jim" is released in the U.S. On the 29th, it reaches its peak at /89 in the Billboard charts (it hits #99 in Cash Box). In the U.K. another single is pulled from Empty Glass, "Keep On Working" backed with "Jools and Jim." The latter does not make the charts.
New album releases: Arc of a Diver - Steve Winwood; Fleetwood Mac Live - Fleetwood Mac; Sandanista! - The Clash; Flash Gordon/Original Soundtrack - Queen
After nine months of on-and-off work, more off than on, The Who finally complete the recording of the album Face Dances. They listen to a preliminary mix and are pleased with the results. Producer Bill Szymczyk then takes the master tapes to his own Bayshore Recording Studios in Coconut Grove, Florida to complete the mix.
The Village Voice places Pete's solo album Empty Glass at #14 in their year-end Pazz & Jop critic's poll.
On the 21st, Roger tells the fanzine Who's News a list of the tracks that are expected to be on the new Who LP. Neither "Daily Records" or "You" is listed but "Somebody Saved Me" with a lead Pete vocal is. The songs "Dance It Away" and "I like Nightmares" have already been dropped from the album. Roger wants the tracks put out as b-sides but the rest of the band have objected. Although the cover idea is underway, no title for the album has yet been finalized.
On New Year's Eve, Pete's staff confronts him with bad news. He is £500,000 in debt due to the combination of the recent purchase of a country estate and an unexpected printing bill at his publishing company. He is soon forced to sell off his barge company and The Magic Bus Bookshop (to Penguin Books) to raise cash.
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