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Page updated December 1, 2023. This is a highly abridged version of all the things that happened to and around The Who in November. Click for access to the full history.

December 1956

New music releases: Hymns - Tennessee Ernie Ford; "Young Love" - Tab Hunter; "The Garden of Eden" - Frankie Vaughan; "Day O (The Banana Boat Song)" - Harry Belafonte
Pete Townshend first guitar

On Christmas Day, Pete's Grandmother Denny gives him a guitar. Pete later describes it as the sort of cheap guitar one would see decorating the wall of an Italian restaurant. Despite calling this his first guitar early in his career, he will reveal in 2007 that his mother had earlier given him a 1936 Radiotone guitar (left) that belonged to his Uncle Jack. He will give this guitar to Rachel Fuller (later Mrs. Townshend) to auction for charity and then provide its backstory in 2007.

December 1958

New music releases: The Star Carol - Tennessee Ernie Ford; Flower Drum Song - Original Cast; "Petite Fleur" - Chris Barber's Jazz Band; "Donna" - Ritchie Valens
The Confederates 1958
Pete with banjo, John with back to camera

On the 6th, John and Pete's trad jazz band The Confederates (so named because the official school band was called The Union) have their first paying gig at the Congo Club at the Congregational Church in Acton. The audience is about ten people.

12-year old Keith Moon

Form Master Parkinson describes the 12-year old Keith Moon on his report card: "His behavior is rather young for his age. His air of perky spriteliness, while refreshing for a time, is, I feel, largely put on for effect. It is time he adopted a different line."

December 1962

New music releases: "Hey Paula" - Paul & Paula; The Lonely Bull - Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass; The Glorious Sound of Christmas - The Philadelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy; "The End of the World" - Skeeter Davis
Gustav Metzger early 1960s

At Ealing Art College, Pete attends a lecture by the Austrian artist Gustav Metzger. The title of the lecture is "Auto-Destructive Art, Auto-Creative Art: The Struggle For The Machine Arts Of The Future." Metzger argues that the act of destroying a machine can be a valid artistic statement. He illustrates by smashing a bass violin.

December 1963

New music releases: Volume 2 - Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass; "Hippy Hippy Shake" - The Swingin' Blue Jeans"; "Dead Man's Curve" - Jan and Dean; "You Don't Own Me" - Lesley Gore
Tom Wright selfie
Photo: Tom Wright

Pete's American friend, Tom Wright, is busted for cannabis and deported. Before he goes, he gives his mammoth record collection of American R&B to his schoolmates Pete and Richard Barnes.

St. Mary's Hall ad

The St. Mary's Hall, Putney show on the 22nd is a watershed for Pete as The Detours open for the Rolling Stones. Pete gets to meet the Stones through an introduction brokered by his friend Glyn Johns, then the lead singer for the group The Presidents. Brian Jones and Mick Jagger are quite friendly to a star-struck Pete. Standing backstage, he sees Keith Richards swinging his arm in a circle as a warm-up before the curtain is raised on the Stones' performance. Within the next week, Pete takes that motion and makes it part of his stage act; spinning his arm furiously while crashing his fingers against the strings of the guitar, a move called "the windmill" that becomes his trademark.

December 1964

New music releases: Beatles '65 - The Beatles; "My Girl" - The Temptations; Beatles For Sale - The Beatles; "A Change is Gonna Come" - Sam Cooke
7 Dec 1964 ad

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

I Can't Explain review Variety

On the 12th, Billboard magazine has the first U.S. press mention of The Who in an article on Decca Records declaring that "I Can't Explain" backed with "Bald Headed Woman" will be "coming out this week". Four days later the first review appears in Variety followed by Cash Box on the 19th. Variety calls "I Can't Explain" a "typical rocking entry with a good sound." Cash Box gets confused, assuming "Bald-Headed Woman" is the A-side, and dismisses "I Can't Explain" as "an attention-getting shuffle-rock'er." It is unclear whether the single has its national release at this time but producer Shel Talmy said December 19 was the U.S. release date in a 2022 post on Facebook.

December 1965

New music releases: Rubber Soul - The Beatles; A Charlie Brown Christmas - The Vince Guaraldi Trio; "California Dreamin'" - The Mamas & The Papas; "Christmas Time Is Here" - The Vince Guaraldi Trio
1965 Who Goldhawk poster

On the 3rd, The Who play their last date at their home base, The Goldhawk Club in Shepherds Bush. In the crowd along with the ecstatic Mods is famed Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni soaking up the atmosphere of Swinging London before making a film about it. He is entranced by The Who's act and writes them into his script but The Who ultimately do not perform in the movie. Excuses given are Who manager Kit Lambert asking for too much money, Pete disagreeing with the director on how it would be shot and Antonioni declaring The Who's show has too much meaning and he wants to express meaninglessness. In any case, Antonioni hires another band, The Yardbirds, to copy The Who's act when the film Blow-Up is shot the following year.

My Generation UK LP

Also on the 3rd, after almost a year of delays, The Who finally manage to release their first album, My Generation. It will go to mythic status years later; its angry cover and loud, thrashing music providing the spark to the garage-rock and punk-rock movements to follow.

On the 14th, "My Generation" tops out at #2 on the official British charts, unable to push The Seeker's limp "The Carnival Is Over" out of the way.

Alan Freeman interviews Pete and John for Rave magazine. Pete claims The Who's sound is affecting his hearing. He also says that the story of him accidentally breaking the neck of his guitar on a low ceiling is false; that he was in fact inspired by the auto-destructive art of Gustav Metzger during art school. He also says of North Englanders, "You'd have to be thick to even live there."

Beat Instrumental Dec 1965

The Who are also the cover story in this month's Beat Instrumental. Pete talks about how unhappy the band is with American Decca's lack of promotion: "[Our first two singles] didn't do anything at all, except in Detroit, because they had practically no promotion at all. If it was Brenda Lee then it'd be a different matter -- they'd probably hold a National Brenda Lee Week to promote her new single."

December 1966

New music releases: "For What It's Worth" - Buffalo Springfield; "Sugar Town" - Nancy Sinatra; Here Where There Is Love - Dionne Warwick; Boots with Strings - Boots Randolph
Happy Jack German picture sleeve

On the 2nd the single "Happy Jack" backed with "I've Been Away" is released in the U.K. A problem at the Polydor printing plant causes a quick sell-out for the disc and a wait until the 9th for most fans. For promotional ads, The Who hire illustrator Ralph Steadman who draws The Who as intertwined snakes. In Disc & Music Echo, Penny Valentine says "Happy Jack" proves Pete is "definitely one of Britain's finest writers, with so much charm in his work he's a sort of modern day Hans Christian Andersen."

A Quick One

On the 9th, The Who's second album A Quick One has its British release. Chris Welch reviews it for Melody Maker and declares that, although he found the first album a "disappointment," the second disc "captures The Who's essence, humour, cynicism, nervous drive, violence and delicacy." Most reviews comment on the novelty of the multi-song mini-opera. "It's all very well bandying about words like freak-out and psychedelic, but when it comes to actually doing something different – well!" says Music Maker magazine. The album ultimately peaks at #4.

I'm a Boy US ad

On the 10th, Billboard runs a full-page ad for The Who's new single in the U.S., "I'm A Boy" backed with "In the City". Despite being their biggest U.K. hit and Who co-manager Chris Stamp flying to New York to coordinate promotion, "I'm A Boy" fails to appear on any of the U.S. singles charts.

young Bobby Pridden

On the 15th, The Who perform at the Locarno Ballroom in Streatham, South London. Making his first appearance behind the sound board is new hire Bobby Pridden. Bobby will give his name to the hero of Pete's Lifehouse, appear on the back cover of Odds and Sods and remain The Who's live soundman until his retirement in 2016.

Marshall ad Beat Illustrated Jan 67

The U.K. magazineBeat Instrumental releases its 1966 Reader's Survey. The Who are voted the number one live group and Keith Moon gets best drummer. In other rankings, Pete is 4th best songwriter and 9th best guitarist, "I'm a Boy" is 3rd best song arrangement, and John is 5th best bassist but places at number 2 for best brass or woodwind player. In the same issue's letter column a writer notes that all the drummers he sees live in Britain are currently doing some imitation of Moon.

Robbers Pete Townshend and Keith Moon
Photo: Chris Morphet

On the 19th, The Who assemble in costume as burglars at their managers' office in Caroline House in London for the shooting of the "Happy Jack" promotional video. The Monkees-style short is directed by Ready Steady GO! director Michael Lindsay-Hogg and premieres three nights later on BBC-1 TV.

Afterwards, Pete and Eric Clapton go out on the town together for the first time and check out the Blaises Club to hear Jimi Hendrix perform. They meet Jeff Beck coming out after Hendrix's first set shaking his head. "Is he that bad?" Pete and Eric ask. "No," says Beck, "he's that good." Pete and Eric go in and are completely blown away by Hendrix's guitar prowess. Both Eric and Pete later say they thought that night, "the game is over for us."

December 1967

New music releases: Axis: Bold As Love - The Jimi Hendrix Experience; "Sunshine of Your Love" - Cream; John Wesley Harding - Bob Dylan; "Simon Says" - 1910 Fruitgum Company
The Who Sell Out front

On the 15th, The Who Sell Out LP is released. Pete's tinkering driven by his dissatisfaction with some of the album's songs followed by the need to get permission from all the companies mentioned in the commercials is responsible for the delayed release. While getting the rights for the commercials, someone forgets to secure the rights for the Radio London jingles and a lawsuit erupts. Those who rush out to buy the first copies of the album in the U.K. find a psychedelic poster designed by Adrian George inside. Good condition original posters are now one of the most sought-after Who artifacts.

The Who Sell Out back

Melody Maker declares: "The Who drop out of everything that is supposedly fashionable and therefore valid in 1967's flowery year...On the whole, this album easily surpasses anything The Who have done before." They are one of the few to review it as Track Records forgets to send copies of the album to music reviewers. This and the late release damage the album's commercial chances and it peaks at #13 in the U.K. charts, failing to make the top ten as their two previous albums had done. In the U.S. it does a bit better, topping out at #48, nearly 20 numbers higher than Happy Jack. It will be another decade or more before this seeming pop throwaway is re-evaluated as one of 1967's greatest triumphs.

December 1968

New music releases: Beggars Banquet - The Rolling Stones; Elvis TV Special - Elvis Presley; "These Eyes" - The Guess Who; "Touch Me" - The Doors

In Billboard on the 7th, The Who's new U.S. album Magic Bus - The Who on Tour reaches its chart peak at #39, becoming their first album to break the Top Forty barrier.

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 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.

December 1969

New music releases: "Spirit in the Sky" - Norman Greenbaum; Grand Funk - Grand Funk Railroad; Okie From Muskogee - Merle Haggard and The Strangers; "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" - Sly & The Family Stone
1969 Coliseum Flyer

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

December 1970

New music releases: Pendulum - Creedence Clearwater Revival; Rose Garden - Lynn Anderson; "I Really Don't Want to Know" - Elvis Presley; Love Story (Original Soundtrack) - Frances Lai
Who Move To What

On the 19th, Billboard runs an article on The Who's upcoming movie projects. They say that Tommy will eventually be made into a movie but that for now, Pete is proceeding on a film with the working titles "Your Turn In The Barrel" and "Barrel One, Barrel Two." These titles actually refer to a document Pete prepared for The Who's managers explaining that the resulting film would have a fictional script (one barrel) while also developing stories from real life coming from people attending a series of public Who concerts staged for this purpose (another barrel).

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

December 1972

New music releases: Hot August Night - Neil Diamond; Made in Japan - Deep Purple; Separate Ways - Elvis Presley; "Love Train" - The O'Jays

The 5th marks the beginning of three days of rehearsal for the upcoming live performance of the orchestral Tommy. During a break, Pete tells Roy Carr of New Musical Express that he is working on a new rock opera he calls "Jimmy."

Roger Daltrey Rainbow 09-12-72

On the 9th, Tommy is presented with the London Symphony Orchestra in two live performances at the Rainbow Theatre in London. The production was originally planned for the LSO's regular venue at the Royal Albert Hall, but the Hall's management refuses because rock stars would be involved and because they consider Tommy to be "unsavory." Roger performs the title role, John is Cousin Kevin, Keith is Uncle Ernie and Pete sings the narrator. Rod Stewart, Peter Sellers, Stevie Winwood, Richie Havens, Sandy Denny and Merry Clayton round out the cast.

Pete Townshend Rainbow 09-12-72
Photo: Colin Davey

The theater stage is designed to resemble a giant pinball machine. Keith has a great time playing Uncle Ernie but Pete gets drunk on brandy, misses cues, insults the audience and, at the end, pretends to wipe his bottom with the libretto before walking offstage. Tickets for the show are the highest in British theatrical history at that time, £200 each, but both shows sell out and raise £10,000 for the Stars Organization For Spastics. Both Rolling Stone and Melody Maker pan the show, decrying the "showbiz quality" of the event.

The Who The Relay German picture sleeve
German picture sleeve

On the 23rd, The Who's newest single, "Relay" backed with "Waspman," is released in Britain. It is The Who's last stand-alone single not pulled from an album until 2004. Tony Stewart reviews "Relay" for New Musical Express: "Why don't this band ever fail? Simply because they're the guv'nors in rock 'n roll. And this composition by Pete Townshend must be their best single to date. It's a calculated time-structure piece and not an all-out rocker, thus giving Big John and Keith room to prove their feel and expertise, as well as allowing Roger to use the full force and range of his voice. There's an unforgettable chorus line, and some neat guitar lines hitting out. I do believe they've done it again." What they've done peaks at #21 in the U.K. charts.

December 1973

New music releases: Band On The Run - Paul McCartney & Wings; "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" - Wizzard; Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath - Black Sabbath; "Seasons in the Sun" - Terry Jacks

On the 2nd, The Who arrive in Montreal, Canada, disembarking from the plane wearing paper hats made out of French in-flight newspapers and singing the French national anthem. That evening they perform at the Montreal Forum.

1973 Montreal Hotel damage

Early the next morning The Who and twelve members of their entourage are jailed in Montreal after Pete and Keith wreck their hotel suites. They manage to post bail at 1:15pm when the local promoter pays $5,995.34 in cash to the police station and they perform that night at the Boston Garden where they rail to the audience about the Montreal police. John will go on to commemorate the arrest in the song "Cell Number Seven" on his solo album Mad Dog.

Pete Townshend Dec. 1973 interview
Photo: Neal Preston

Before the show on the 5th at the Capital Center, John Swenson interviews Pete who says Quadrophenia now seems "incredibly calculated; a winding up of Who affairs in that era," and adds that he as a writer and The Who as a band will have to find a new direction. "I don't want to wave the rock 'n roll flag for the rest of my life."

Rolling Stone Jan 3 1974

Rolling Stone carries their article on The Who tour, "Who's spooky tour: awe and hassles." Pete and Roger comment on the friction between them during the recording of Quadrophenia. Pete says the band tried to accomplish too much and admits that the lack of audience reaction was not what he expected.

As soon as Pete comes home from the tour, he begins work in his home studio on the soundtrack for Tommy: The Movie.

December 1974

New music releases: "Some Kind of Wonderful" - Grand Funk Railroad; "Lonely This Christmas" - Mud; Dark Horse - George Harrison; Stormbringer - Deep Purple
Two Sides Of The Moon Publicity
Photo: JimMcCrary

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

The Ox Extend Tour

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

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

December 1975

New music releases: We Sold Our Soul For Rock 'n Roll - Black Sabbath; "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" - The Four Seasons; Mothership Connection - Parliament; Double Dynamite - Elvis Presley
The Who in the Pontiac Silverdome 1975
Photo: John Collier

The audience at The Pontiac Silverdome on the 6th is the largest crowd of the tour, numbering 76,000. Some of the attendees are later reported injured in the crush to get inside. The Who use 50 tons of equipment for the show and project it on a 30-by-40-foot video screen. The show is videotaped and "Roadrunner" and part of "My Generation Blues" appears later in the movie The Kids Are Alright. More of the medley, including "Join Together" appears on the film soundtrack.

Roger Daltrey People cover 1975

Also on the 15th, Roger is the cover story of People magazine. Their headline reads, "For Roger Daltrey, The Who is no longer the question: it's whether to be a star."

December 1977

New music releases: Running On Empty - Jackson Browne; "Stayin' Alive" - The Bee Gees; "Lovely Day" - Bill Withers; Abba: The Album - Abba

On the 13th, Pete is interviewed by Dave Schulps of Trouser Press. He says he won't be touring with The Who in the foreseeable future but does not mention the reason, his concern that Keith is not in fit shape to tour. The interview appears in the April and May 1978 issues.

The Who Kilburn portrait 1977

On the 14th, The Who rehearse for the next day's concert. On the 15th, The Who perform a set at the 2000-seat Gaumont State Theatre in the London suburb of Kilburn. The audience is made up of those lucky enough to have heard an announcement that morning on Capitol Radio. Jeff Stein, director of The Who documentary The Kids Are Alright, set up the show because he had found no good footage of The Who performing their hits "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again." The show turns into a full-length concert with the only live complete performance of "Who Are You" with Keith on drums.

Roger has to go under the knife as nodules are found on his vocal chords, delaying further work on the Who Are You album until March. Meanwhile work continues on recording and mixing the orchestral parts added to "Had Enough" and "Love Is Coming Down".

December 1978

New music releases: Minute By Minute - The Doobie Brothers; Destiny - The Jacksons; Incantations - Mike Oldfield; "Shake Your Groove Thing" - Peaches & Herb
Whos News Mar 1979

On the 27th, Roger is interviewed by members of the Who's News fanzine. He says that Pete has already signed his solo contract with Atlantic but that The Who haven't decided on a new label (he would prefer CBS). He says Kenney Jones is "the fourth member of the band from now on" but that this is just for studio work; other drummers (or multiple drummers) will be used live. He says The Who "are like an open wound; we need to seal it up."

December 1979

New music releases: Christopher Cross - Christopher Cross; Gold & Platinum - Lynyrd Skynyrd; The Rose - Bette Midler; London Calling - The Clash
Who Cincinnati ticket

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

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

Cincinnati paramedics treat victims
Photo: Jack Klumpe

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

The Who leave Cincinnati
Photo: Nick Allen

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

11 Die In Rock Frenzy

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

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

Who Time cover

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

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

Who Kampuchea
Photo: Ross Halfin

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

79-12-28 Townshend McCartney

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

December 1980

New music releases: "Back In Black" - AC/DC; Arc of a Diver - Steve Winwood; The Best of Bowie - David Bowie; Live - Fleetwood Mac

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.

December 1982

New music releases: December - George Winston; "Electric Avenue" - Eddy Grant; The Distance - Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band; Raiders of the Pop Charts - Various Artists

Finally, The Who reach what was then believed to be the end of the line; their last two concerts of the tour at the Maple Leaf Garden in Toronto. The Who hold a press conference on the afternoon of the 15th followed by the first concert the next evening.

The Who Toronto 12-17-82
Photo: Philip Kamin

The show on the 17th is shown live in theaters around the world and pay-per-view on cable television. Professionally recorded and videotaped, the concert, missing three songs, is later released on home video as Who Rocks America and on CD and DVD in 2006 as Live From Toronto.

On the 18th, Variety reports that a Cincinnati judge has ruled that punitive damages could not be awarded to the plaintiffs in the 1979 Riverfront Stadium tragedy. On the 18th, Variety also reports that a court decision has cleared the city of Cincinnati of all responsibility in the eleven deaths at the concert.

Eminence Front sheetmusic

On Christmas Day, "Eminence Front" backed with "One At A Time" hits the U.S. charts. The single peaks at #68 in Billboard and #77 in Cash Box. A planned release in ine U.K. is cancelled. It is the last Who single to appear on Billboard's Hot One Hundred Singles chart.

December 1983

New music releases: "Walking on Sunshine" - Katrina & The Waves; "Jump" - Van Halen; Greatest Hits Vol. II - Barry Manilow; Balls to the Wall - Accept

On the 7th, at Pete's request, Warner Brothers terminates The Who's contract despite their failure to deliver another two albums as specified. A sizable amount of the advance money has to be returned.

Pete Townshend press release breaking up The Who

On the 16th, Pete releases a statement declaring he is breaking up The Who. "I will not be making any more records with The Who. It's already been stated that our tour of America in 1982 was our last, and I can now add that I will not perform live again anywhere in the world with The Who." Roger, John and Kenney have nothing to do with the statement and afterwards express shock and anger at Pete's decision and the idea that he could break up the group on his own. "It was a wonderful Christmas present," Roger tells the press, sarcastically.

December 1985

New music releases: 10 From 6 - Bad Company; Les Misérables - Original London Cast; "Superbowl Shuffle" - The Chicago Bears' Shufflin' Crew; Out of Africa - John Barry

On the 2nd, Roger Daltrey begins his first solo tour at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, New Jersey. His backup band is Russ Ballard on lead guitar, Mark Williamson on keyboards and backing vocals, John Seigler on bass, Stuart Elliott on drums, Clem Clempson on guitar and Alan Shacklock additional keyboards. The 4th sees them at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., then Tower Theater in Philadelphia (5th), Boston (8th), Madison Square Garden (9th) and the Palace Theater in Albany, New York (12th). The Boston show is played on the King Biscuit Flower Hour and is later bootlegged as Summertime Blues. Roger later admits that touring without the other members of The Who is an unpleasant experience.

On the 6th, producer Cy Langston performs the final mix on a recently recorded six-track selection from John Entwistle's new solo band "The Rock." The tape contains three John-authored songs, "Last Song," "Bridges Under the Water," and "Life After Love" plus two songs from keyboardist Andy Nye, "Light in the Dark" and "Break Your Heart" and one from guitarist Andy Barnett, "Casualty." Vocalist for the band is Henry Small and the drummer is Zak Starkey. The tape, unfortunately, does not lead to a record deal and Nye and Barnett soon leave the band.

Roger 1985 MSG ad

Roger's Madison Square Garden show on the 9th is a charity event battling Cerebral Palsy hosted by WNEW-FM. At the end of his set John Entwistle makes a surprise guest appearance, singing and performing "Twist and Shout." Also performing that night are Big Country, John Paar, Julian Lennon with a guest appearance by Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon.

Who's a Drag?

On the 22nd, Pete and his wife Karen preside over the Snowball Review in aid of the Chiswick Family rescue and Pete plays a short set of "That's All Right, Mama," "Stop Hurting People" and "Pinball Wizard" with a band including Simon Phillips, John "Rabbit" Bundrick, Steve Barnacle, Les Davidson, Billy Nicholls, Coral Brown, Gina Foster and the Kick Horns. Following that Pete dons drag to play the traditional role in British Christmas pantomimes, the Widow Twankey, with Joanna Lumley as his "son" Aladdin. After this the entire cast, led by Pete, sings "Night Train." Other performers that night include Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Rik Mayall, Bill Wyman, Andy Summers, Ian Dury and Virginia Astley.

Let Me Down Easy picture sleeve

On the 28th, another single from Roger's album Under A Raging Moon is released. "Let Me Down Easy", written by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, backed with "Fallen Angel" peaks at #86 in the Billboard charts. It is the last Who-related single to make it to the U.S. Top One Hundred.

December 1986

New music releases: "Ocean Front Property" - George Strait; Live Magic - Queen; Life, Love & Pain - Club Nouveau; Hot, Cool & Vicious - Salt 'n Pepa

The Who plan a one-off reunion concert this month at The Marquee in London. Just to be ready Who manager Bill Curbishley books them on a U.S. tour. When Pete hears about the U.S. bookings he pulls out of the Marquee show.

Pete signs a contract with Virgin to write a musical production of Ted Hughes' children's story The Iron Man. The sizeable advance allows Pete to gift himself with a Synclavier system and a new composition suite for his boathouse/recording studio.

December 1988

New music releases: "Driving Home for Christmas" - Chris Rea; "Can You Stand the Rain?" - New Edition; "She Drives Me Crazy" - Fine Young Cannibals; "Baby Don't Forget My Number" - Milli Vanilli

On the 3rd, Billboard says they have been told that Pete, Roger, and John will reunite as The Who for a world tour in 1989 that will begin with a charity concert performance of Tommy at Radio City Music Hall.

On the 5th, Pete, Roger and John appear from London on the U.S. television show Today promoting the new Who's Better Who's Best compilation. Afterwards they tape interviews and segments for a "Who Day" on MTV that airs on the 18th.

The tapings done, the three and Who manager Bill Curbishley meet to discuss the 25th Anniversary tour. John says he has found new bass equipment that will allow him to play quieter. Roger says he has written some new songs. Things are going well until Curbishley brings up possible dates for the tour. As the reality of the tour sinks in, Pete has a panic attack and abruptly leaves.

The next day, Pete is visited by his friend Robert Greenfield as he works on The Iron Man at his home studio in Twickenham. Pete tells Robert that, despite pressure, he will not tour with The Who. The day after that, Pete informs Curbishley, Roger, and John of his decision.

December 1999

New music releases: ...And Then There Was X - DMX; "Otherside" - Red Hot Chili Peppers; Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter - Jay-Z; Songs from the Last Century - George Michael
1999 Radio Times

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

Guitar Dec. 1999

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

The Who at Shepherd's Bush 1999

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

December 2002

New music releases: I Care 4 U - Aaliyah; "All I Have" - Jennifer Lopez; "Sound of the Underground" - Girls Aloud; "Feel" - Robbie Williams

On the 10th, Cheltenham and district coroner Lester Maddrell concludes the official British inquest into John Entwistle's death: "He died from the effects of a single moderate usage of cocaine superimposed upon ischaemic heart disease caused by naturally-occurring coronary atherosclerosis." The verdict confirms the findings of the U.S. coroner from July.

On the 28th, Billboard magazine reports that The Who were the 12th top grossing act in the U.S. in 2002 making $28.6 million.

December 2003

New music releases: The Diary of Alicia Keys - Alicia Keys; Friday's Child - Will Young; Wicked - Original Broadway Cast; Ultimate Dirty Dancing - Original Soundtrack
Q magazine Feb 2004

On the 30th, Q magazine, in their just-published Feb. 2004 issue, declare Keith Moon's entire life to be the "Most Insane Moment In Rock."

December 2004

New music releases: "Numb/Encore" - Jay-Z and Linkin Park; Eye to the Telescope - KT Tunstall; Get Lifted - John Legend; "Rich Girl" - Gwen Stefani featuring Eve

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

December 2005

New music releases: Curtain Call: The Hits - Eminem; "When I'm Gone" - Eminem; "Temperature" - Sean Paul; The Breakthrough - Mary J. Blige

On the 22nd, Who manager Bill Curbishley tells Rolling Stone The Who will tour North America in the Summer of 2006.

On Christmas Eve, Pete writes a diary entry confirming the tour and the forthcoming Who album: "I certainly don't give a flying f**k whether anything I write is a hit, or will get played on my beloved rock radio, or sell a million - or might not fit because it sounds like a Broadway tune, or as though I've 'stolen' Tom Waits' voice..."

December 2008

New music releases: "Dog Days Are Over" - Florence + The Machine; "Circus" - Britney Spears; The Circus - Take That; "Use Somebody" - Kings of Leon
Pete Townshend Roger Daltrey receive Kennedy Center Honor
Photo: Ron Sachs

On the 6th, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey receive their Kennedy Center Honors from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice at a State Department dinner.

The Who at Kennedy Center Honors
Photo: Lawrence Jackson

On the 7th, Pete and Roger attend the Kennedy Center gala with outgoing President George W. Bush and fellow honorees, Barbra Streisand, Morgan Freeman and George Jones. A brilliant, soulful performance of "Love Reign O'er Me" by Bettye LaVette brings tears to Pete's eyes and causes Streisand to lean over to Pete and ask "You wrote this?"

December 2009

New music releases: "In My Head" - Jason Derulo; "Nothin' On You" - B.o.B. featuring Bruno Mars; "Naturally" - Selenz Gomez & The Scene; "Imma Be" - The Black Eyed Peas
Railway Hotel Plaque

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

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

December 2015

New music releases: "Cheap Thrills" - Sia featuring Sean Paul; "Panda" - Desiigner; "Faded" - Alan Walker; "Oui" - Jeremih
2015 Who Cincinnati memorial

On the 3rd, a crowd gathers in cold temperatures outside the U.S. Bank Arena to mark the 36th anniversary of the 1979 Cincinnati concert disaster with a memorial marker. Who manager Bill Curbishley sends a message that is read to those in attendance: "Many people suffered as a result of that day and I am sure that many still do. If myself and the band can be of any assistance in the healing process going forward we are there for you."

Roger Daltrey Dec 2015

On the 6th, Roger tells The Sun about his own recent health scare from viral menegitis. "It was touch and go. But out of all that I came to terms with my own mortality. I was ready to go, and if I had to go I would have gone out with a smile on my face." Roger is working with The Sun on their Christmas Appeal raising money for the University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre in London.

December 2016

New music releases: "Goosebumps" - Travis Scott; "iSpy" - Kyle featuring Lil Yachty; "What Ifs" - Kane Brown featuring Lauren Alaina; "I Don't Wanna Live Forever" - Zayn and Taylor Swift
Rachel Fuller and Pete Townshend 2015
Photo: J. Countess

Sometime during this month Pete marries for the second time to musician and partner Rachel Fuller. The ebulliant Rachel reports: "It was fabulous! It was eight minutes long and there were no guests. We had two witnesses and it was like 'Hello, I love you. Marry me. Yes, I do.' And we went to the local pub for lunch."

December 2018

New music releases: "Wow." - Post Malone; "Look Back at It" - A Boogie wit da Hoodie; "Crazy Story" - King Von; "Valuable Pain" - YoungBoy Never Broke Again

On the 2nd, Pete's wife Rachel reports she is just back from New York where she has been workshopping her musical work The Seeker in collaboration with the New York Public Library. Pete will be performing the role of The Ferryman. Unfortunately, it appears that Covid-19 may have brought this project to a premature finish.

On the 16th, Roger attends Paul McCartney's show at the O2 in London.

Doubt Paul got too loud, but Roger says he punctures his eardrum during the month. Pete later reports it as an ear infection.

In any case, Roger's hearing improves enough to listen to Pete's demos for the new WHO album. Pete later says Roger was unsure if he could add anything to the songs, but Pete talks him 'round.

Syndicated cartoon "Reality Check" in newspapers on the 18th.

Reality Check cartoon Dec 18 2018

On or near the 24th, the contracts are signed for the WHO album and a 2019 tour.

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The Who's Tommy

The Who's Tommy on Broadway
Opening March 28, 2024 at the Nederlander Theatre. Updated by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff. Tickets now available.

Lifehouse Who's Next

Who's Next / Life House Super Deluxe
10 CD's, Blu-ray with 5.1 mix, 89 unreleased tracks, 2 live concerts, a 100-page book and a graphic novel. Expensive but the final word on The Who's Lifehouse work.

A People's History of The Who

Richard Houghton's The Guitar Has Seconds to Live: A People's History of The Who
Hardback, published by Spenwood Books Limited.

The Who & Quadrophenia

Martin Popoff's The Who & Quadrophenia
Hardback, in folio jacket, published by Motorbooks

The Who Live at Wembley

The Who: with Orchestra Live from Wembley
#1 on the Classical Music Charts! Available now!

The Who Concert Memories Book

The Who: Concert Memories from the Classic Years, 1964 to 1976
Fans ecall the glory days of the greatest live act in rock music. By Edoardo Genzolini. Check out my entry on Page 260!
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