The Who, Roger Daltry, Pete Townsend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon, who started out as The Detours in 1964, became one of the most influential rocks groups of the 60’s and 70’s, receiving a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and have been inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
They were first introduced to Tiger Beat readers in Derek Taylor’s monthly column “Group Scoops” in the April 1966 issue. He wrote that they were one of the UK’s biggest up and coming groups. In the May 1966 issue I introduced the group by researching the British pop music newspapers, calling Keith not only the group’s drummer but, “The Who Threshing Machine.” I went on, “More evidence of their bombastic style is Pete’s smashing the handle of his guitar into the amplifiers to get a piercing feedback sound. Roger accentuates his lead vocalizing by hurling the mike around and crashing it into the drums.”
Their debut song “My Generation” only made it to number 74 in the music charts in America. Their first big hits in the United States came in 1967 with “Happy Jack” followed by “I Can See for Miles.” Ironically, their first US tour from June 14, 1967 opening in Ann Arbor, Michigan and ending September 9, 1967 in Honolulu, Hawaii, they were the opening act for Herman’s Hermits.
I finally got to see them for the first time at The Monterey Pop Festival, which ran June 16-18, 1967 at the Monterey Fairgrounds in Monterey, California. The festival was planned in seven weeks by promoter Lou Adler, John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, producer Alan Pariser, and publicist Derek Taylor. I had known Derek since 1965 and had worked closely with him in his work as a publicist for many groups from The Beach Boys to The Mamas and The Papas. I knew Lou Adler, the producer for The Mamas and The Papas, and John Phillips because I had been in the studio when they recorded “I Saw Her Again.”
So, my seat in the front row of the press section which was in front of the audience section was sure thing. It still made me feel very special to have my “press section” credentials. It was a magical weekend. I was fortunate to stay with my favorite Aunt Anna at her home in Carmel (the town adjacent to Monterey). My only challenge was getting to and from the Festival, I took cabs each way, but it sometimes took hours in the traffic to get there or get back to my Aunt’s house when the concerts would end at 10:00 p.m. or 11:00 p.m.
It was at the Monterey Pop Festival that I saw The Who perform for the first time. No amount of descriptive words could compare with seeing them live. They were the most intense group I had ever seen, putting boundless energy into the performance. Georgio Gomelsky, manager of The Yardbirds and the man who gave The Rolling Stones their start commented on The Who, “What is interesting about The Who is the way they present the noises, the trouble, the tension and confusion of the modern world.” A great description. Though “My Generation” was a modest hit in America when it was first released, by the time The Who was on tour in the US, it was a favorite with followers, and my personal favorite of their songs. Seeing them perform it live just summed up for me their place in pop culture and pop history.
By April 1968 I was beginning to contribute articles to the New Musical Express, the UK’s top selling weekly music newspaper. So, when The Who came to Hollywood, we got in touch so I could write about their time in Hollywood for the readers “back home” in the UK, and we also did a photo shoot for Tiger Beat.
We all decided it would be fun to follow our interview with a photo shoot in Ferndell Park in Hollywood. They said
they had seen enough of the inside of hotel rooms and clubs. Even though John and Keith were dressed in hip British suits, and Pete in a psychedelic jacket and slacks and Roger in a tee shirt and embroidered vest and slacks, off we went to the Park. I, too, had on a pinstriped pantsuit.
Throughout our shoot, they were all acting up, making jokes, and being silly. We called the story “The Who – Kids for a Day,” and summed it up by saying “join this laughable and lovable bunch of ‘nuts’ on their day as kids.”
I felt like a kid, too, riding on the swings with Roger pushing me higher and higher and sliding down the slides with them. After playing on the children’s playground, we took a long stroll through the fern-lined paths, passing streams and taking breaks to sit on the wooden benches under the canopy of trees. (And if you’re a Star Trek fan, a few DS9 episodes were filmed here as locales for the planet Bajor.)
Good times. . .Ann Moses reporting about “back in the day.”
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