Who

ARTICLE ABOUT John Entwhistle (The Who) FROM SOUNDS, October 28, 1972

I am on a visit to London today, staying in this wonderful city until Sunday, and what better way to celebrate than sharing this article about one of the members of The Who, a band formed in London in 1964. When I`m here I try to make room for some sightseeing at famous places relating to modern rock music history. I have been to Freddie Mercury`s house, went to all the music shops in Denmark Street and bought some rock and roll street wear at Camden Market. I am thinking of going away to see the offices of Classic Rock Magazine where so many of my favourite music journalists have worked. If you have any other suggestions for my visit, please send some words my way! Thank you!

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Entwhistle: more rigour than mortis

Interview by Martin Hayman

The other side of the glass window the forgotten man of the Who is pumping out bass notes and a lunatic figure at the piano bashes out “March of the Mods” with a fiendish cackle. This is Tony Ashton, drinker, fun-timer and piano player extraordinaire.
Entwhistle cuts a commanding if slightly impassive figure, burly rather than stout and dressed in his customary slightly sinister black. He cracks into a grin at the antics of his piano player and after a couple of false starts for fits of laughter, the band, boxed off from each other by studio screens, blaps into some hairy rock and roll.
The take done, they stroll back into the control box for refreshments with an air of well-earned satisfaction. Entwhistle exchanges some light-hearted banter with the Who`s “press agent” along the lines of “More rigour than mortis there I`d say, har har”, and plays through a delightful little death song about Rollerskate Kate who met her end in the fast lane of the motorway and has now gone to join the Great Skating Rink In The Sky. Shoop-doo-be-doop.
Yes, it`s the man who brought us well-loved little masterpieces of monstrosity like “Boris The Spider” and “Cousin Kevin”, and he`s doing it again. This new album, which will be the sequel to “Whistle Rhymes” (coming your way on November 3) rejoices in the blood-curdling title “Rigor Mortis” – thus the pun.

It`s a rock and roll album with an updated feel and John`s own extra little something, his brand of black humour, which is quite endearing when you get into it. Assisting at the funeral are the aforementioned Tony Ashton, hammering the ivories, Alan Ross on guitar and Graham. Graham who? “Er… can`t remember his second name. I only met him about three days ago. `Ere, what`s Graham`s second name?” he shouts up at the control room. A voice detaches itself from burble of chatter on the intercom and bellows “Deakin. D-E-A-K-I-N.” He plays drums. “Ah, Right,” says the deadpan Entwhistle.
Alan Ross figured on the last album “Whistle Rhymes” and brought in the drummer from his own group Ro Ro, so there`s already a familiar set-up here. So far they have laid down four of five tracks and they are working fast. It all seemed to be clicking by the spontaneity of the jam they were doing when we arrived – not for the record.
These are early days yet, though, as there`s a lot of overdubbing to do, mostly horns. John himself is quite a dab hand with the horns, and plays a collection which excludes only the slide trombone.

FLUID

“This one`s more or less a set group,” he says, “there`s piano, guitar, bass and drums and the brass comes in later. This was by way of distinguishing it from the previous effort, which was much more of a fluid band, with odd players popping up on different tracks: John Weider on violin, Peter Frampton on guitar, Jimmy McCulloch on guitar, Neil Shepherd on keyboards.
“I should imagine there`ll be a few guest appearances later on, maybe sort of Moon on congas or something. And I haven`t paid Frampton for the last session either so he`ll probably come, and I`ll pay him for both.”
Did John feel that being with the Who had given him a freedom to get down his own musical ideas which he might otherwise never have had? “Any member of the Who can do a solo album: Roger`s gonna do one, Keith could quite easily do one, producing and playing drums. But as far as I`m concerned, it all depends on where I got to without the Who.
“If I`d been in another group it might have been the same. If I`d never got into a group then most likely I wouldn`t have started composing anyway. Most likely be an amateur French horn player in an operatic society. I did a bit of everything – played Dixieland, modern jazz, brass band, military music – but most of my time I spent in an orchestra. Middlesex School`s Orchestra. I played French horn in it for about two years… I really enjoyed that.”
Not actually one of your Sheperd`s Bush nationalists then? “No, I`m from Chiswick, which is like a gnat`s piss away. The reason the Who say they come from Sheperd`s Bush is because that`s the general circle we were moving around in when we first started playing. Roger lived in Sheperd`s Bush and then moved to Chiswick so really it all came from the Chiswick, Ealing, Wembley area.”

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How much of his time did he find was taken up with business relating to the Who? “It varies from year to year. Two years ago we were doing about three gigs a fortnight, playing universities and we would be doing about two four-week American tours a year, plus one English tour and at least a couple of big gigs in Europe, couple of television appearances.
“This year we`ve hardly done anything. We got two-thirds the way through an album concept and scrapped that as an album. The first six months of the year we hardly saw each other. We didn`t work at all. A five-week tour of Europe and two-thirds of an album – that`s all we`ve done this year.
“We had eight months off altogether, and we realised it didn`t really work, that we shouldn`t do it in future, leave it at the most two, three months. I think we`re starting early next year, recording and touring.”
Why had they decided to scrap the five tracks projected for the next album? “Well I dunno whether they`ll turn up as about five `B` sides. I felt that it was too near to `Who`s Next` – a step on, but still too near. Maybe the public wouldn`t have thought so, but we felt we needed another concept album. We`ll be using it as the basis of a new stage act, sometime next year.”
Entwhistle does not regret “the good old days” when the group played small clubs and even humped its own gear. This despite the huge organisational task concerned with setting up a tour. There are twenty-four people on the road for a Who tour, and each venue is visited by the road managers to ascertain whether the hall is suitable.

He doesn`t think of himself as “Mr. Bassman” either, and says that he has his own career as well as that of the Who to think of. Surprisingly, he has built up a following in the States, where his first solo album “Smash Your Head Against The Wall” sold in excess of 100,000 copies. “I wasn`t really concerned with what England thought about it,” he says. “It was an anti-frustration album. It was to stop me getting so frustrated that I left the
Who. I got all the numbers that I`d written in the last four years and put them on the album.
“`Whistle Rhymes` was written in two months as an album, and this one is written as a rock and roll album. The first one just got me out of a rut I was in. I was writing more and more material and there was just no outlet. One Who album a year with two or three songs of mine on it doesn`t get rid of seventy songs, does it, and that`s what I was getting towards.”
What about John`s taste for the bizarre in his choice of themes for songs? “They`re not as obviously bizarre now. I like to think the words are sicker in a more subtle way now,” giving a graveyard chuckle. “I still find it easier to switch words around and write songs about suicide, things like that.
“There`s too many people composing love songs, religious songs and serious things like that. If it`s my bag to write `orrible sick songs which disturb people some way then I`m content that it`s my job.”

REALISTIC

But deadpan expressions aside, Entwhistle is not some kind of a death freak. He thinks of his songs as having a humourous content which can be overlooked only at your own peril. It may be a black humour, but death is as natural to yer human condition as is birth. And to laugh at the grotesqueness of life is as realistic as to cry.
“Well you don`t want to make it too depressing, do you, otherwise you`d get people jumping out of the window half-way through listening to my album.”
And I bet Charles Manson never saw the humorous side of death. So as long as Entwhistle keeps laughing, that following of his will never be really morbid.
Finally, did he feel like the forgotten man of the Who at any point? “Well it`s almost become part of the act now, me standing still, hasn`t it? I mean if you`ve got four blokes standing on the wing of a plane going at five hundred miles an hour, and three of them are whirling their arms around, which one don`t you look at?”

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Melanie, Roxy Music, Medicine Head, Jimmy Cliff, Fleetwood Mac, Paul Simon, Yes, Nick Mason, Steve Tilson.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

 

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ARTICLE ABOUT Kenny Jones (The Faces) FROM SOUNDS, October 21, 1972

A nice article with a man who seems to be quite humble and down-to-earth, despite his success in two well known bands. This article should also be of interest for fans of The Who and Rod Stewart, I think, as Mr. Jones later replaced one of the very best drummers, Keith Moon, in the Who. Rod is mentioned briefly a couple of places here too.
Hope you all enjoy it!

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Kenny Jones in the talk-in

Interview conducted by Ray Telford

Of all the Faces, Kenny Jones is probably the most enigmatic character in the band. In the midst of the most rowdy, boisterous backstage interlude it`s always been Jones that sat quietly in the middle of it all never quite getting involved in the Faces` full repartee.
As the Who have their Entwhistle, so the Faces have Jones – a kind of balancer that every band needs. A reliable solid entity. Consequently it`s doubtful that he`s ever had the real praise due to him as the fine drummer he is.
Last week, in his manager`s office, a surprisingly relaxed, forthcoming Kenny Jones talked about his work with the Faces, on the Chuck Berry sessions and the resurgence of interest in the Small Faces.

Let`s talk a bit about the old Small Faces. Do you think they ever got the musical recognition they deserved?

Yeah, it had its heyday, you know, it had a climax to it. It went through a period when it was really top level but then it sort of slid off a bit.

Do you think they were ever recorded properly?

Yeah, I don`t think we were ever recorded badly. Glyn (Johns) was a great help. He did all the early stuff when we recorded at IBC, Pye, Olympic and he really had a lot to do with the sort of feel we got on the early records.

Why was it do you think that the Faces as they are now had to go to America before things started happening?

I think that was just because we weren`t working here much in the beginning. I mean we knew the band had a lot of potential and we wanted to get to the States to sort of get three months solid playing behind us just to pull us together. You know, every band needs that, especially if it`s a re-formed band like we were and it was important for recording, too.

How did the first Faces rehearsals sound?

I don`t remember, actually. I think they were probably a relief to my ear, I mean Ronnie Lane can sing and Woody can sing harmonies but they haven`t got that front liner sort of thing. Like, Rod can do that and he had no trouble in working himself into the numbers.

At this time Rod was contracted to do the solo albums?

Yeah, when I asked him to join he`d already signed with Mercury so there was a lot of business things to sort out because apart from Rod being with Mercury – we were with Warner Brothers – we still had all the old Immediate contracts to get out of and the whole thing was really involved. It took a long time to get round but Billy Gaff was the brains behind all that.

Did the fact that Rod would be doing solo albums worry the band?

Not really, because in the early days we tried to keep them separate. Like we`d play a bit rock and roll and Rod would do maybe some country things on his own albums but we soon forgot about all that. We just don`t worry about it now – it`s all the same group more or less now.

It seems to take The Faces a long time to record albums. Any particular reason?

Yeah, it does take us a bit of time to record. When Rod goes in to do his albums it doesn`t take long because everything`s always his own ideas, you know, and he just tells everyone what he wants and that`s it but when we`re ready to record like there`s five people who`ve got to have a say and that can confuse the issue, if you see what I mean. We have to scrap a lot of things because of that. I mean sometimes we go in with a set thing in mind and it`ll work but usually we just go in and have a little play and see what comes out.

What`s been the easiest Faces` album to record?

I think the last one was about the easiest. That album was a step in the right direction for us because we`ve still to come up one that really satisfies the group in every way. I mean it`s taking time because we`re still finding out about each other. See, if it was only one person giving the directions there`d be no comeback but as it is there`s five people still feeling each other out and trying at the same time to come up with a direction or feel which pleases everybody.

CHUCK BERRY

Does Rod record the vocals separate from the backing tracks?

Well, what happens is that when we do the backing tracks he puts on a rough vocal because it helps us to go along with it a bit more. Then he scrubs that out and comes in later and does his own thing.

How much of a perfectionist are you when it comes to drum sounds?

Well, actually. I have a good thing going with Glyn Johns because we both have the same ideas about how drums should sound. I mean we can talk to each other about drums and know exactly what each other means. With some engineers if you tell them what you want they get the needle but I always manage to come out of a studio after a session with a decent sound.

How do you feel about the sessions you did in London recently with Chuck Berry?

That was really good. I was surprised, you know, because we did the album at Pye and I`ve never liked the sound there but it sounded nice. I got a good sound straight off – I couldn`t believe it. I didn`t think too much of the other side of that album – the live side – but I suppose we had the advantage because we did it in the studio. It was a bit rough, you know, but it had a nice feel. I think we went in about twelve o`clock and came out about eight and everything was finished. In fact, he wrote some words there and then in the studio and there`s one song where he just sings “I love you” every few bars. That was a really loose session.

Do you have trouble getting a good feel in a studio?

Yeah. As soon as the red light goes on it just freezes me. You can be playing away quite nicely getting a number together and you think that it`s all there for the taking but when the light goes on something happens to you, I don`t know what it is but I think it`s something most people feel about recording. There are some people who just don`t think about it, though, you know they just play and let it come out.

How would you feel about doing a full live album?

Yeah, we`re going to do one probably after the new album we`re working on now.

How do you feel about drum solos?

I don`t particularly like them, actually. I mean the only thing I could do that comes near a solo on stage is “Losing You”, and even then I keep it really basic with a few little fiddley things on it but that`s about it really.

Is Ronnie Lane the kind of bass player you work best with?

Yeah. We`re very close. We`ve been together for so long, you know, playing with him is just very natural because he bought his first guitar when I bought my first set of drums and we`ve been playing together since. He`s great to work with because he`s very simple and punchy. I`ve got no complaints about Ronnie.

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SIMPLE

British rock and roll rhythm sections seem to be much more effective than they used to be. Why do you think that is?

I don`t know I think everyone`s just a bit more mature. People are playing a lot more simply and there`s just a lot less busy drummers around. I don`t really go out to gigs a lot but I know there are lots of really good drummers around, you know, just guys that I`ve met on our gigs. I`ve just got into a thing now where I just don`t worry about how good other drummers are, you know, I don`t want to copy anyone and I just play what comes off the top of my head. I mean I`ve always done that but more so now, like instead of thinking about the song whatever I just play along with the beat and keep it extremely simple – even if it means just hitting the bass drum.

Would you agree that you personally reach a peak in your playing during a long number because it`s always struck me that you need to feel your way into a song to hit a good groove?

Yeah, sure, I always play better towards the end of a number because I like to put a lot of sweat in. Like, when I`m really tired that`s when I start to play extra hard and really begin to push. It`s something I`m not conscious of at the time, though, Ronnie (Lane) is the same.

Have you ever felt that you`ve been playing too much and that your style needs pruning?

Yeah, there have been times when I`ve felt that. See, as I say, I`ve always tried to be a simple drummer but I`ve had the odd gig when I go on and I get so excited and wound up that I`m just hitting everything in sight but then I think, before anyone tells me, what the hell am I doing and then I begin to lay back. The important thing is, though, that I know when I`m playing too much, I can recognise it.

That seems to be a very British thing among drummers.

Yeah, right. Like every bar is a fill in. Some of the soul drummers like A 1 Jackson with Booker T and the MGs are incredible it`s just straight swing all the time.

What similarities, musically, do you feel between this band and the Small Faces?

I don`t think there are any real similarities. Although it`s got the same name it`s completely different. Even when we formed, this is a thing a lot of people don`t realise, although there was three of us in the old band it was a completely different thing. I didn`t even know what Mac was all about when he was playing organ then, really, because we all played differently and we were feeling each other out as a new band. It was just the same as if we`d never seen each other before. But, basically, the only similarity I`d say would be that Mac, Ronnie and myself were still that little rhythm section tightening things up.

RE-RELEASES

There seems to be a lot of interest in the old Small Faces in the States now.

Yeah, they`re re-releasing all the old records. Like “Ogden`s” been re-released and all the early stuff – I don`t know where the F–ing money is, though.

Do you share the opinion that “Ogden`s Nut Gone Flake” was the best Small Faces album?

Yeah. The two albums I like is the very first one we ever did, I think it was just called Faces or Small Faces, and “Ogden`s” and then there were a few tracks on other albums that are good but, basically, these are the two I really liked.

How do you find touring in the States?

Well the first tour we did there was bloody long – something like three months – but that was the one that really broke us and I enjoyed that one. The rest I haven`t particularly enjoyed. I enjoy playing for the audiences but I don`t like being in the States because I get very homesick – I think the rest of them do too. We just love to get back home.

How do you feel on the road?

You get bored. I mean hotel rooms are about all you see. You`ve heard it all before but it`s true. The only good thing about it is the television and the few friends we have.

When`s the next American tour?

I`d say in about four months because we`re having a bit of a break now. Well, actually, it might be six months because we`re doing Japan first then on to Australia and New Zealand. We did Australia with the old band and that was really funny, it was a laugh because we did it with The Who. It was quite interesting, though, just playing to different audiences.

I read somewhere once that Ronnie Wood reckoned the band`s drinking was getting out of hand on stage.

Oh yeah. Well it still does, really. I mean we all drink wine – except for Mac – but Rod`s THE wine drinker. But it does get out of hand, especially if we get to a gig really early and you just go into the dressing room and start knocking it back. Alcohol really slows me up.

How about dope?

Dope? That doesn`t affect me too much. I mean I`ll have a little blast now and again but even then that`s not too often. But that`s just me, you know. Dope used to be nice in the old days but you sort of grow out of it.

FESTIVALS

Getting back to America, how much stuff have recorded there in the past?

Well, we`ve done a bit but not too much. Like, I can`t see why people go on about studios being different between the States and here because all studios are the same to me. I mean over here in Olympic you can get a good band sound all round but in the States you get one studio that has a good drum sound but a pony old guitar sound and another one will be exactly the opposite and it`s all like that. I think probably from what people have told me – there`s a better brass sound in American studios but that`s about all I can say.

How do you feel about The Faces` open air Festival gigs last summer?

I like festivals on a small scale. I don`t like millions of people all over the place because then it just becomes a shambles, you know what I mean. I think we did about three – the Great Western, Reading and another one. I didn`t like Reading and the Great Western wasn`t much good either because we felt we just weren`t getting across to the people. The ideal size for a festival is about five to eight thousand people, I mean that`s plenty. If it`s a big festival there`s only a small proportion of the whole audience who you can actually play to – the rest of the people see you as little specks on a stage miles away.

What about concert audiences. Do you find English audiences more relaxed than in the States?

I think they probably are but I think basically they`re the same as far as this band`s concerned. There was a time in the early days when there was a difference but I think it`s just that the young people in England have caught up with the American kids – or the other way round, whatever way you see it. It just happened that we broke in America first because they kind of adopted us if you like, but it was an unconscious thing on our part.

BUSINESS

How do you see the business side of rock and roll?

Well, it used to give me headaches in the beginning. I mean we had so much trouble in business things with the old band that it sort of wakens you up to that side of it. There`s so much I know about the whole business thing now, in fact we all do, because we`ve all been screwed out of money at some time or other.
Like, we all know exactly what a good contract is just by sitting down and looking at it rather than like in the old days it`d just be mumbo jumbo and we`d send it to a solicitor and let him see what he thinks. But now we`re probably more up on it than the solicitor. I think it`s a good thing for a band to take an active interest in what`s happening to the money. When you do a gig you`re quoted a price and get the price but then you find out, you investigate, exactly what they`re charging on the door.
We tell the promoters in the States what to charge for concerts and it works out at around an average of two dollars and certainly no more than five. If you get someone screwing kids out of money they won`t get slagged off, it comes back on us. It don`t make you feel good when you arrive at a gig and there`s people standing outside who can`t afford a high admission price. It`s kind of sour.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Ginger Baker, Johnny Nash, Wild Turkey, David Bowie, Linda Lewis, Osibisa, Lesley Duncan, Yes, Plainsong, Yes, Ian Carr, Mike O`Shea, Lou Reed, Bread.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT The Who FROM New Musical Express, May 24, 1975

A relatively long, but very interesting interview with Mr. Townshend. I recommend other people than the regular fans to take a look at this one as there is a lot of food for thought here, taking in consideration the fact that this interview is 40 years old today. Some very definitive truths here, but also some opinions that may seem a little odd in the light of later history. Have a good read!

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It was the long, hot summer of 1965 when he rode into town, mounted astride a snarling, virile 500 c.c. nose and wearing nothing but a cellophane loincloth.

There were sullen lines in his face and no-one – not even the tough boys, the ones who hung out in the dappled sunlight and picked off their crabs with switchblades – was willing to look him full in the eye when he got mean.

His name was Idaho Sid Smedley, and would you believe there`s not one mention of him in the following article, which is mainly about…

PETE TOWNSHEND

By ROY CARR

Pete Townshend didn`t die before he got old. Yet death isn`t his problem, it`s the passing of the years and his current position in what he feels is a younger man`s occupation.
“If you`re in a group,” he begins, “you can behave like a kid – and not only get away with it, but be encouraged.”
The name Keith Moon somehow springs to mind.
“If you`re a rock musician,” Townshend continues, “you don`t have to put on any airs and pretend to be all grown up…pretend to be – in inverted commas – `normal` or even be asked to behave like you`re a mature and a highly responsible person. These are just the trappings that society puts on most people – with the result that most kids are burdened down with responsibilities far too early in their life.
“You know the deal: as soon as you leave school you`ve got to find a secure job and hang onto it. I wrote `My Generation` when I was 22 or 23, yet that song breathes of 17-year-old adolescence.
“But then I did have a somewhat late adolescence.”

So what are you trying to tell us?
“Personally, I feel that the funniest thing – and also the saddest thing -about the current state of rock`n`roll is that it`s the pretenders that are suffering the most. Those people who, for a number of years, have been pretending to be rock stars and have adopted false poses.
“It`s the difference between someone who has made rock an integral part of their lifestyle and therefore doesn`t feel like they`re growing old.”
“You want to know something?
“I really hate feeling too old to be doing what I`m doing.
“I recently went to do a BBC TV interview and when I arrived at the studios there were all these young kids waiting outside for The Bay City Rollers. As I passed them by, one of the kids recognised me and said, `Ooo look, it`s Pete Townshend` and a couple of them chirped `Ello Pete`. And that was it.
“Yet the first time The Who appeared at those same studios on Top Of The Pops, a gang of little girls smashed in the plate glass front door on the building.

“Anyway, as I entered the building, the doorman turned to me and smirked. `Ere, what`s it feel like to walk past `em now and have nothin` happen, eh?`
“I told him that, to be quite honest, it brings a tear to my eye. Look, I don`t want them to mob me because The Who have never been a Rollers-type band, what I`m scared of is hypocrisy.”
Hypocrisy? In what way?
“Well, nowadays it`s considered very passe to admit that you`ve got a burning ambition to stand on stage and be screamed at by 15-year-old girls. But when we started out that was something to be very proud of. If it didn`t happen, there was something wrong with you.
“Though I haven`t all that much experience as to what is happening contemporarily in music, I do feel that `the-world-owes-me-a-living` attitude still prevails, not only in rock, but in every walk of life. So now everyone`s gotta look like they really mean business and every bloody singer I see on The Old Grey Whistle Test looks a-n-g-r-y.” He breaks off the conversation to pull relevant grimaces. “When I see this I go into hysterical fits of laughter.
“Sure, I know that I look angry when I play but usually there`s no reason for it. I suppose it`s an adopted aggressive thing, which is in turn a subconscious layover from those days when I WAS angry. I don`t quite know what I was angry at, but I WAS angry, frustrated, bitter, cynical – and it came through in the music I wrote.”

C`mon Pete, you`re either evading the moment of truth or approaching it in a very roundabout manner. What`s brought on this manic obsession about being too pooped to pop, too old to stroll?
“It`s just that when I`m standing up there on stage playing rock`n`roll, I often feel that I`m too old for it.”
No kidding.
“When Roger speaks out about `we`ll all be rockin` in our wheelchairs` he might be but you won`t catch me rockin` in no wheelchair. I don`t think it`s possible. I might be making music in a wheelchair – maybe even with The Who, but I feel that The Who have got to realise that the things we`re gonna be writing and singing about are rapidly changing.
“There`s one very important thing that`s got to be settled.” He pauses again. “The group as a whole have got to realise that The Who are NOT the same group as they used to be. They never ever will be and as such…it`s very easy to knock somebody by saying someone used to be a great runner and can still run but he`s Not What He Used To Be.” Townshend pauses yet again. “Everybody has a hump and you have to admit that you`ve got to go over that hump.”
Yes we have…no we haven`t – Townshend won`t commit himself either way as to whether The Who are over the hill, but he intimates in no uncertain manner that the group are beset with acute problems.

“You`ve got to remember that there was a time when suddenly Chuck Berry couldn`t write any more. He just went out and performed his greatest hits and I`ve always wondered what THAT was all down to?
“Jagger told me at his birthday party that he was having difficulty in writing new material for The Stones, which is unfortunate because nowadays so much importance is placed upon writing songs.
“To a degree, you could call it front-man paranoia – and even Roger gets it from time to time. Let`s face it, Jagger carries a tremendous amount of responsibility apart from being The Stones front-man.
“Forget about that tired old myth that rock`n`roll is just making records, pullin` birds, gettin` pissed and having a good time. That`s not what it`s all about. And I don`t think Roger really believes it either. I think that`s what he`d really like to believe rock`n`roll was all about.
“Steve Marriott has chosen to live it like that and, as far as I can see, he`s having a good time. Fair enough – but in my opinion Marriott`s music falls short of his potential, which is a bloody shame because everyone knows what he`s really capable of…there`s all those old incredible Small Faces records piled up.
“For me, `Ogden`s Nut Gone Flake` is one of the classic albums of the sixties and, if it`s the difference between that music and having a good time, I prefer that Steve Marriott suffer, because I want the music.

“Believe me, I don`t want to sound too cruel and vitriolic, but I do think that you have to face up to the undeniable fact that there`s no point in your life when you can stop working.
“You can`t suddenly turn round and say, we`re on the crest of a wave so now it`s time to sit back and boogie. Deep down inside, everyone wants to do this but it`s tantamount to retiring altogether. And personally, I can`t do it.
“It`s not necessarily to do with standards,” Townshend continues, before I have time to fire another question. “The Who`s `Odds & Sods` collection would have been released even if it hadn`t been all that interesting, but it`s all been put down in the past for being sub-standard.”
Apparently the reason for its release was to make null and void the increasing amount of Who bootlegs currently being circulated, and once a second volume has been prepared and issued, there will be no need to backtrack. “If,” says Townshend, “The Who were gonna wave their banner for standards, `Odds & Sods` would still have remained unreleased. Standards have got absolutely nothing to do with it. I feel that it`s the pressure at the front of your mind that…not necessarily your fans…but then, maybe your fans really are the most important people…are actually sitting twiddling their thumbs waiting for your next album.
“Every time they wait, they become more and more impatient. What Jagger said in that interview that he did with NME is that between the albums they are eagerly waiting for, he`d like to chuck out an R&B set to keep `em happy. Fair enough, if he thinks it`ll make any difference – but of course it won`t.

“It`s just like making a `live` album. The fans will say `Thank you very much`, but what we`re really waiting for is the next studio album, so get on with it.”
PHEWHATASCORCHA!
New subject: Townshend was once quoted as stating that the eventual outcome of any Who recording depended entirely upon whether or not he could keep Moon away from the brandy and himself from imbibing whatever it took him to get through a session.
“At the moment, what governs the speed of The Who is the diversification of individual interests. We would have been recording the new album much earlier were it not for the fact that Roger is making another film with Ken Russell.
“Roger chose to make the film and John wanted to tour with his own band The Ox, so I`ve been working on tracks for my next solo album. Invariably what will happen is that once we all get into the studio, I`ll think `Oh fuck it`, and I`ll play Roger, John and Keith the tracks I`ve been keeping for my own album and they`ll pick the best. So as long as The Who exists, I`ll never get the pick of my own material…and that`s what I dream of.
“But if The Who ever broke up because the material was sub-standard then I`d really kick myself.”
But the way you`re going on, Peter, old Meter, it sounds like The Who is on it`s last legs?
“However much of a bastard it is to get everyone together in a recording studio, things eventually turn out right. You see, though it has never been important in the past, we do have this problem that everyone has been engaged on their own project, so that the separate social existence that we lead has become even more acute.

“I mean, if I just couldn`t live without Moonie and if I could go over to the States and spend a couple of months with him we`d probably be a lot closer. But as it happens, I haven`t seen Keith since last August. I may have seen a lot more of John but as yet I haven`t seen his new group or listened properly to his album because, apart from working on `Tommy`, I`ve been putting together new material.
“And the same thing applies to Roger: as soon as someone decides to do something outside of the area of The Who the pressure suddenly ceases, because they are the people who put the pressures on me.
“Let me make this clear. I don`t put pressures on them. I don`t say `we`ve got to get into the studio this very minute because I`ve got these songs that I`ve just gotta get off my chest.` It`s always the other way around. They always rush up to me and insist that we`ve got to cut a new album and get back on the road.”
So it`s quite obvious that the pressures are back on and Townshend is feeling the strain.
“In a sense, rock is an athletic process. I don`t mean running about on stage, but as a communicative process it`s completely exhausting. It`s not necessarily being a part of things,” insists Townshend.
“Like I said, when I wrote “My Generation` I was already in my early twenties, so I was by no means a frustrated teenager. And that`s what a lot of people often tend to forget.”

But you were an integral part of that generation?
“Right,” he retorts, “but we`re also part of the Generation that we play to on stage today.
“Let me clarify that statement.”
Yes!
“What I don`t feel part of is not the Generation of age, but the Generation of type. I mean, who the hell were all those people at the `Tommy` premier? Whoever they were, I`m certainly not in their gang!
“Yet funnily enough, whatever the age group, I feel much more at ease before a rock audience.”
So why this current fixation about being to old to cut le Moutard?
“Because to some extent The Who have become a golden oldies band and that`s the bloody problem. And it`s the problem that faces all successful rock groups at one time or another – the process of growing old.
“A group like The Kinks don`t have that problem because, theoretically, Ray Davies has always been an old man. He writes like an old man who is forever looking back on his life and, thank heavens, old Ray won`t have to contend with such problems. But with a group like The Rolling Stones, there`s this terrible danger…now I could be wrong…but there`s no question in my mind that it`s bound to happen…Mick Jagger will eventually become the Chuck Berry of the sixties, constantly parodying himself on stage. And, this is the inherent danger that The Who are so desperately trying to avoid.

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“I can tell you that when we were gigging in this country at the early part of last year I was thoroughly depressed. I honestly felt that The Who were going on stage every night and, for the sake of the die-hard fans, copying what The Who used to be.
“Believe me, there have been times in The Who`s career when I would have gladly relinquished the responsibilities of coming up with our next single or album to another writer. There`ve been a lot of people who said they would have a go but somehow it never quite worked out.”
Why?
“Like a lot of things connected with The Who, I really dunno. Maybe it`s because we`ve got such an archetypal style that`s geared to the way that I write.”
But by his own admission, Pete Townshend has always considered his forte to be writing. The fact that he also happens to be a guitarist is, in his opinion, quite irrelevant. Yet even now, Townshend is astounded when other guitarists compliment him upon his instrumental prowess. He isn`t bowing to false modesty when he insists that, after all these years, he still can`t play guitar as he would really like to.
In his formative years with The Who, he compensated for his acute frustrations by concentrating his energies on the visual aspects of attacking the instrument. Every time he went on stage, Townshend insists he bluffed his way through a set by utilising noise and sound effects which eventually led to the destruction of many a valuable weapon.

“It`s still true even today,” he confesses without embarrassment. “I may be a better guitarist now than I was when The Who first started but I`m far from being as technically proficient as I would really like to be.
“What I like about the way that I play,” he explains, “is what I think everyone else likes. I get a particular sound that nobody else quite gets and I play rhythm like nobody else plays – it`s a very cutting rhythm style. Sorta Captain Power-chords!
“I do like to have a bash every now and then at a wailing guitar solo but halfway through I usually fall off the end of the fretboard. I might have a go, but I`ve resigned myself to the fact that I haven`t got what it takes to be a guitar hero.
“Yet funnily enough I don`t really respect that kind of guitar playing. I`ve got no great shakes for Jeff Beck or Jimmy Page. Sure, I love what they do, but it always seems to me that they`re like the Yehudi Menuhins of the rock business. They`re extremely good at what they do, but I`m sure they`d give their right arm to be writers – though not necessarily in my shoes.
“I don`t really feel the showmanship side of my contribution to The Who`s stage show is fundamentally a part of my personality. It`s something that automatically happens.
“Basically, it stems from the very early days when we had to learn to sell ourselves to the public – otherwise nobody would have taken a blind bit of notice of us; and, like many things, it`s been carried on through up until today. Yet I have no doubt that, if we wanted to, we could walk on any stage and stand there without doing all those visual things and still go down well with an audience.”

So why this depressing down-in-the-mouth attitude. Could it stem, I ask Townshend, from the fact that a critic once bemoaned that, in his opinion, The Who, once the true essence of rock`n`roll, now just go through the motions.
“Well, that statement was true – but on the other hand if it`s unqualified then it might as well be ditched. But you`ve put the question to me and now I`ve got to try and qualify that other journalist`s statement.
“To me, the success of any truly great rock song is related to the fact that people who couldn`t really communicate in normal ways can quite easily communicate through the mutual enjoyment of rock music. And that was simply because, for them, it was infinitely more charismatic than anything else around at that time.
“For example, you`re aware that there`s this great wall around adolescence and that they can`t talk freely about their problems because it`s far too embarrassing. Personally, I feel that adolescence lasts much longer than most people realise. What happens is, that people find ways of getting round it and putting on a better show in public. And as they get older they become more confident and find their niche.
“Now why I think that journalist said The Who now only play rock`n`roll is because on most levels rock has become a spectator sport. It`s not so important as a method of expression as it once was. Today something else could quite easily replace it.”

Townshend goes on to concede that rock doesn`t hold as much genuine mystique as it did with previous generations to the extent that the stigma of the social outlaw has almost been eradicated. Those who have tried to become outlaws have failed miserably, hence the last-ditch shock tactics of Alice Cooper and David Bowie.
“For many kids, rock`n`roll means absolutely nothing.” He compares it to switching on a television set, going to the movies or a football match. It`s just another form of entertainment.
“If what the kids do listen to consists entirely of The Bay City Rollers and the Top 10 then it must mean even less than most other similar forms of mass media entertainment because they`re not really listening.
“The real truth as I see it is that rock music as it was is not really contemporary to these times. It`s really the music of yesteryear. The only things that continue to keep abreast of the times are those songs that stand out due to their simplicity”.
An example?
“`My Generation`. A lot of people don`t understand that there`s a big difference between what kids want on stage in relationship to what they actually go out and buy on record.
“Perhaps the reason why so many young kids can still get into The Who in concert is simply because it`s a very zesty, athletic performance. However, if we just restricted our gigs to performing songs we`d just written yesterday and ignored all the old material then I`m positive that we`d really narrow down our audience tremendously.

“I dunno what`s happening sometimes,” he bemoans. “All I know is that when we last played Madison Square Garden I felt acute shades of nostalgia. All The Who freaks had crowded around the front of the stage and when I gazed out into the audience all I could see were those very same sad faces that I`d seen at every New York Who gig. There was about a thousand of `em and they turned up for every bloody show at the Garden, as if it were some Big Event – The Who triumph over New York. It was like some bi-centennial celebration and they were there to share in the glory of it all.
“They hadn`t come to watch The Who, but to let everyone know that they were the original Who fans. They had followed us from the very beginning of `cause it was their night.
“It was dreadful”, Townshend recollects in disgust. “They were telling us what to play. Every time I tried to make an announcement they all yelled out `Shhhrrruppp Townshend and let Entwistle play `Boris The Spider”, and, if that wasn`t bad enough, during the other songs they`d all start chanting `jump…jump…jump…jump…jump`.
“I was so brought down by it all! I mean, is this what it had all degenerated into?
“To be honest, the highest I`ve been on stage last year was when we used to play `Drowned`. That was only because there was some nice guitar work in it… Roger liked singing it and both John and Keith played together so superbly. Really, that was the only time I felt that I could take off and fly.”

Pete Townshend may well have some cause to feel sorry for himself; when the final reckoning comes he`s got a lot to answer for – in particular, the Curse Of The Concept Album.
Though concept albums are by no means new to popular music – Gordon Jenkins and Mel Torme were churning `em out almost a quarter of a century ago – it was “Tommy” (as opposed to “Sgt. Pepper”) which unleashed a deluge of albums built around one specific theme. These ranged from The Fudge`s horrendous “The Beat Goes On” through to J. Tull`s obscure “Passion Play” up to and including Rick Wakeman`s Disneyesque “King Arthur”.
“None of which,” says Townshend, as he bursts into laughter, “work”
Yet as we all know, Townshend himself has had no less than three stabs at the same subject. So how does he view the trilogy in retrospect?
“I don`t. And if you`re going to ask me which one I prefer, I don`t really like any of them very much. I suppose I still like bits of The Who`s original version but, the definitive `Tommy` album is still in my head.”
Perhaps it would be wise to quit this line of questioning and leave Tommy where he is. But Townshend wants the last word.
“I think that everyone in rock shares the same basic urges, and therefore, that it would be very unfair to me to say it`s alright for The `Oo `cause we invented it. I have great doubts about that.

“For instance, when the Big Feedback Controversy was going on in the mid-sixties, Dave Davies and I used to have hilarious arguments about who was the first to invent feedback.
“I used to pull Dave`s leg by saying `we both supported The Beatles in Blackpool and you weren`t doing it then….I bet you nicked it off me when you saw me doing it`. And Dave would scream that he was doing it long before that. Then one day I read this incredible story about Jeff Beck in which he said” – at this juncture, he adopts a retarded Pythonesque android accent – “`Yeah, Townshend came down t`see d`Tridents rehearsing and he saw me using the feedback`…pause…`and copied it`.” Returning to his natural voice, Townshend scowls, “I never ever saw the Tridents and the man is pathetic.
“Obviously, Beck may feel deeply enough that he invented feedback – but for Chrissakes who gives a shit? Why even comment on it? It doesn`t really matter, it`s just a funny noise made by a guitar.”
Townshend goes on to explain that the innovatory part of rock is not necessarily the part that he`s proud of, even though he`s regarded as The Who`s ideas man. “I was trained in graphic design…to be an ideas man…to think up something new and different…like, let`s give a lemon away with the next album!”
Thank you.
“In the early days of The Who we were tagged with gimmicks and subsequently it made me very gimmick-conscious.
“Now if I might return to `Tommy` for a moment…”
But only for a moment.

“…What I think is good about `Tommy` is not that it`s a rock opera or that it`s the first or the last…that`s of course, if you assume that there`s gonna be any more!!”
Don`t worry, there will be. Have a copy of Camel`s “Snow Goose”.
“What I feel is very important about `Tommy` that as a band it was our first conscious departure out of the adolescent area. It was our first attempt at something that wasn`t the same old pilled-up adolescent brand of music. We`d finished with that and we didn`t know which way to go. That`s when we went through that very funny period of `Happy Jack` and `Dogs`.
“It was also a very terrifying period for me as The Who`s only ideas man. For instance, though `I Can See For Miles` was released after `Happy Jack`, I`d written it in 1966 but had kept it in the can for ages because it was going to be The Who`s ace-in-the-hole.
“If you want the truth…”
And nothin` but…
“I really got lost after `Happy Jack` and then when `I Can See For Miles` bombed-out in Britain, I thought `What the hell am I gonna do now?` The pressures were really on me and I had to come up with something very quick and that`s how `Tommy` emerged from a few rough ideas I`d been messing about with.”

And whereas The Beatles had cried that it was impossible to perform “Pepper” in public, the fact that The Who demonstrated that “Tommy” was an ideal stage presentation quickly motivated other bans to mobilise their might for the New Aquarian Age.
With more sophisticated electronic weaponry than they knew how to utilise, the likes of Floyd, Yes, and ELP adopted a more “profound” stance as, in a blaze of strobes, they began to bombard audiences with techno -flash wizardry, pseudo-mystical jargon and interchangeable concepts.
Townshend may have had a helping hand in starting the whole schmear rolling (it sure didn`t rock), but he is adamant in his belief than many alleged “profound” music machines are working a clever con-trick on the public.
“All that they`re really doing is getting together and working out the most complex ideas they can handle, packaging it with pretentious marketing appeal and unloading it on their fans.
“But” – and here comes the get-out clause – “does everything have to hold water? Obviously, it must mean something to the integrity of the band that`s putting it together, but it`s results that count.”
Well the result, as Townshend puts it, has turned many a rock theatre into a dormitory.
“It might be difficult to fall asleep at a Who gig but, I can understand why some bands send their audiences into a coma.
“I don`t like Yes at all.
“I used to like them when Peter Banks was in the line-up, because, apart from being extremely visual, he also played excellent guitar. With so many changes in the line-up, Yes is Jon Anderson`s band and he might be guilty of much of that wishy-washy stuff they churn out – because Jon really is a tremendous romantic. Maybe he believes in the old mystical work, and maybe poetry moves him along – but I`m not concerned either way.”
Just wait until the letters come pouring in.

“It`s like that line in `Punk and The Godfather`…`you paid me to do the dancing.` The kids pay us for a good time, yet nowadays people don`t really want to get involved. Audiences are very much like the kids in Tommy`s Holiday Camp, they want something without working for it.
“That wasn`t the way it used to be.
“The enthusiasm that evolved around The Beatles was enthusiasm as opposed to energy generated by The Beatles.
“You talk to them now about it and they don`t know what happened! It was the kids` enthusiasm for THEM. Now when you see it happening again you can see how utterly strange it must have seemed the first time around.
“For instance, take the amount of energy and enthusiasm that`s currently expended on, say, Gary Glitter… and Gary`s just as confused as everyone else. All he knows is which curler to put on which side of his head – Gary readily admits this, and is all the better for it.
“Get in the middle of a crowd of screamin` kids – it doesn`t matter who they`re screamin` at – and there`s a certain amount of charisma transferred to these people. But then, that`s what fan-mania is really all about.
“When the real charismatic figures like Mick Jagger came along, then I think that rock started to change and THEN the kids began to create their own trends in fashion. The Mods not only used to design their own clothes but sometimes actually to make them; and the fact that they did hum-drum jobs to get money to buy clothes, scooters, records and go to clubs built up this elite. Therefore it wasn`t too long before the artists let that rub off onto them and in that sense, I think The Who were as guilty as anybody else.
“And I`ll tell you why.

“Because in the end we wanted the audiences to turn up to see only us as opposed to the audience being the show and struttin` about like peacocks. We had to be the only reason for them turning up at a Who gig”.
With rock and its peripheral interests having been systematically turned into a multi-million pound consumer industry, Townshend has observed that the customer no longer dictates youth fashion. That`s all down to some designer employed by a multiple chain store.
“Everything nowadays is premeditated. Within days the whole country is flooded with what someone thinks the kids want.”
He believes that the only invigorating youth movement in this country appears to be centred around Wigan`s Northern Soul Scene.
“I wish that would spread more than it has, because I see it as a direct link with the Mod thing. But what is more important is that it`s more philosophical in its attitude about not fighting and not boozing and not smoking. Even though they`re ephemeral things they are nevertheless states of mind which are Very Good Things.
“Like the early Mod thing, this Northern Soul Scene has a fashionable aspect connected with it, but basically it`s concerned with the exact opposite to the Mod preoccupation with getting pilled-up and fighting.
“Funnily enough, I`m still not certain why the original Mod movement was so obsessed with aggro. All I know is that at that time I felt an incredible amount of frustration and bitterness towards society and maybe everyone else felt the same.”

But even as far back as 1968, The Who were somewhat trapped by their own image, when Townshend stated that the thing that had impressed him most was the Mod movement. He had been fired by the excitement of witnessing and subsequently taking an active part in what he felt was the first time in history that youth had made a concerted move towards unity of thought and drive and motive. “It was almost surreal” was how he was quoted at the time.
Somewhere at the turn of the sixties, the youth movement was derailed. Talk of a promised land and the eventual greening of America became suffocated as the consumer industry once again took command, and the Business in showbusiness grabbed the spoils.
When Townshend looks back in time, he can`t help but laugh. “I don`t think they were promises, I think it was just young people promising themselves something… having ambitions to do something… and, if you like, certain rock people were acting as spokesmen. So they are the convenient people to blame. That`s if you want to lay the blame at anyone`s feet.
“Basically, everyone had this mood that something was happening… something was changing. In essence it did, but unfortunately a lot of its impetus was carried off by the drug obsession. Everybody credited everything innovative and exciting to drugs… `yeah man, it`s pot and leapers and LSD, that`s what makes the world great`.

“Then when things turned out to be meaningless and people had missed the bus, they quickly realised that they`d gambled everything on something that had run away. The same thing happened to rock. Rock got very excited and flew off ahead leaving most of its audience behind. The Who went on to do what I feel to be some very brave and courageous things, but in the end the audience was a bit apathetic.
“It was back to what I wrote in `Punk And The Godfather` – you paid me to do the dancing. That`s why when I`m on stage I sometimes feel that I`m too old to be what I`m doing.”
Then, by way of contrast…
“Track by track, the new album that The Who are making is going to be the best thing we`ve ever done. But if people expect another grandiose epic then they ain`t gonna get it. `Cause this time we`re going for a superb single album” Townshend, make your mind up, squire. If the last couple of hours are anything to go by, you`re either – by your own admission – past it, or you`re just after a bit of public feedback.
Ouch. Better not mention that word.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own  webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Barry White, Manfred Mann, Mud, Led Zeppelin, Ken Hensley, Kevin Ayers, Mike Harding.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.