Great news for fans of rock legends
On Wednesday 27th January, in partnership with Featurebank, the gallery is hosting a film by Director Martin Smith, The Who: The Making of Tommy. Martin will be joining us at the Gallery for a Q&A session after the film.
The Who’s seminal double album ‘Tommy’, released in 1969, is a milestone in rock history. It revitalized the band’s career and established Pete Townshend as a composer and Roger Daltrey as one of rock’s foremost frontmen. The first album to be overtly billed as a ‘rock opera’, ‘Tommy’ has gone on to sell over 20 million copies around the world and has been reimagined as both a film by Ken Russell in the mid-seventies and a touring stage production in the early nineties. This new film explores the background, creation and impact of ‘Tommy’ through new interviews with Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, archive interviews with the late John Entwistle, and contributions from engineer Bob Pridden, artwork creator Mike McInnerney plus others involved in the creation of the album and journalists who assess the album’s historic and cultural impact.
1968 was a time of soul searching for hit making British Rock band THE WHO. With three badly performing singles behind them they needed a big new idea to put them back at the top and crucially to hold them together as a band. Pete Townshend’s bad experiences with LSD and his questioning of the cult of celebrity lead him to seek answers. He looked for spiritual inspiration from Indian Spiritual Master Meher Baba who had kept a vow of silence since 1925. Baba’s message of love was simple, but the deeper message of discovering reality through different states of consciousness without relying on our natural senses, inspired Pete to create the character of Tommy, the “deaf, dumb and blind boy”. Again inspired by Baba, Pete gave his creation extraordinary powers as a Pinball Wizard who soon gathered around him a band of loyal devotees. THE WHO were broke and fragmenting when they started recording and they stayed on the touring treadmill to generate the cash that would pay for the studios and keep their passion and the project alive. When completed the album went on to sell over 20 million copies and it was an exuberant and renewed band that took this unique album on a triumphal tour. It put them firmly back on the musical map and as gigs sold out it became clear that far from losing their magic this most iconic of bands had created a character and a redemptive narrative that struck a chord with fans and non-fans alike. They toured it to vast acclaim and even when the band thought it was a bad gig the audience loved it! Tommy wowed them at Woodstock and at the Isle of Wight Festival. It elevated Pete Townshend from a tunesmith into a composer and crystallised Roger Daltrey into one of the world’s leading front men and launched his acting career. Ultimately the story of Tommy has a happy ending both for the fictional character and the band who brought this extra-ordinary being to life. This fascinating film, made with the total co-operation of the band, tells how The Who struggled to create the first Rock Opera – and how its success changed their lives.
Pete Townshend – THE WHO
Roger Daltrey – THE WHO
Des McAnuff – Director of Broadway version
Richard Barnes –Author “The Story Of Tommy”
Jan Wenner –Founder of Rolling Stone
Richard Stanley – Film maker and friend of Pete Townshend
Mike McInnerney – Illustrator of the album cover
Richard de Curtis – American Rock Journalist
Bob Pridden – Engineer on album recording
David Wild – Rolling Stone journalist
Chris Welch – British music journalist
From the Eagle archive – Chris Stamp (1942-2012) Co-manager of THE WHO 60s-70s
From the Eagle archive – John Entwistle (1944-2002) – THE WHO
Here’s an interesting video to get you started:
And a piece in Popmatters about the film HERE.
As the film will be very popular, we ask you to book your tickets HERE in advance to avoid disappointment.
So come and join Martin Smith and other music lovers for a great Visual Treat. We will of course provide the popcorn so feel free to bring your own drinks, relax and enjoy the film.
See you here. The Team