The WHO – ” At Woodstock 1969 “

Posted: March 12, 2020 in FESTIVALS, MUSIC
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Image result for the who live at woodstock images

The Who were scheduled as the second to last act (before Jefferson Airplane) to play on Saturday, August 16th. When they actually started playing it was already Sunday morning around 5:00. They played their exceptional Tommy album, a Rock Opera dealing with the struggle of a deaf, dumb and blind boy who later finds a cure and gains stardom with his messianic movement. The finale of this performance took place during sunrise which occured at 6:05 am, The story of a deaf, dumb, and blind boy who is cured of his ailments and gains stardom became a legendary performance. Although not an apex performance in the Who’s career, Woodstock helped solidify the band’s place in rock history.

In 1969 The Who performed most of the songs from “Tommy” with some modifications due to time constraints. During the set Abbie Hoffman took the stage and protested the imprisonment of MC5 member and White Panther leader John Sinclair on charges of marijuana possession. Hoffman was met with a few unfriendly words from Townshend as well as a guitar to the head. A clip of this can be heard the Who compilation “Thirty Years of Maximum R&B”. While Townshend has some rather strong words expressing dissatisfaction with the performance, it is still seen as a historical in the rock and roll world.  Townshend, angry that someone took the stage, yelled: “Fuck off! Fuck off my fucking stage!”, hit him with his guitar and sending him off stage again. Townshend then added: “I can dig it!”; And after the song “Do You Think It’s Alright?”: “The next fuckin’ person that walks across this stage is gonna get fuckin’ killed! [crowd cheers] You can laugh, I mean it!”  A 16 second sound bite of the incident can be heard on The Who compilation set entitled Thirty Years of Maximum R&B (Disc 2, Track 20, “Abbie Hoffman Incident”).

The lone highway that led to Woodstock was jammed with traffic, so the Who left the hotel early to play its Saturday night show. When the group arrived, word was out that bands weren’t getting paid; the promoters had decreed it a free show and stopped trying to collect tickets because so many people had turned up. The Who refused to go on until it received a cashier’s check, but all the banks were closed.

The Who have long expressed disdain for their Woodstock performance, and in a new interview, singer Roger Daltrey noted that a series of delays and equipment problems prevented them from playing until 5AM.

“You’ve got to remember, by the time we went onstage, we’d been standing in the mud for hours,” he told The New York Times. “Or laying in it, or doing whatever in it. It wasn’t actually that muddy backstage, but it wasn’t comfort, let’s put it that way. … That’s all you could do. Waiting, waiting, waiting. We were young, and life is a lot easier when you’re young. I wouldn’t do that show now. Sod that. I’d walk away from it. I’m joking. No, I’d walk away and come back 10 hours later.”

Daltrey said he has never listened to the Who’s set to reassess it with years of detachment. But, after noting it was the band’s worst gig, he still has vivid memories of what went wrong.

“It was a particularly hard one for me, because of the state of the equipment,” he said. “It was all breaking down. I’m standing in the middle of the stage with enormous Marshall 100-watt amps blasting my ears behind me. [Keith] Moon on the drums in the middle. I could barely hear what I was singing.”

While promoters scrambled to find money and the wait stretched out, the band found trouble, as it often did. The drummer Keith Moon and the bassist John Entwistle dropped acid and partied in the back of a station wagon with a pair of young female fans. The guitarist and chief songwriter Pete Townshend drank a cup of coffee backstage, and realized it was spiked with acid. When the singer Roger Daltrey took a break from his bottle of Southern Comfort to drink some tea, he, too, began to hallucinate.

Image result for the who live at woodstock images

Finally, after a wait that totaled 14 hours, the Who went on early Sunday morning and played its new album, the epochal rock opera “Tommy.” Moments after the set finished, the activist-prankster Abbie Hoffman, also high on LSD, crashed the stage, and said, into Townshend’s microphone, that the focus shouldn’t be on music, but on the MC5 manager John Sinclair, who was in prison on a minor marijuana charge. Townshend, according to his memoir, “Who I Am,” “knocked Abbie aside” with his guitar. The crowd roared at Townshend’s act of non-nonviolence. After years of struggling commercially in the United States, the Who had found a way to establish who it was.

 

The Who have long expressed disdain for their Woodstock performance, and in a new interview, singer Roger Daltrey noted that a series of delays and equipment problems prevented them from playing until 5AM.

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