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Townshend Says ‘Tommy’ Saved The Who

Pete Townshend
Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Pete Townshend maintains that the Who’s 1969 rock opera Tommy not only redefined the band — but it saved its live act. With a “Super Deluxe” edition of Tommy set for release this fall, and a revival of the musical version running through October 19th at Canada’s Stratford Festival, Townshend took a look back at the making of the classic double album.

Townshend recalled the state of the Who as she started writing the songs for Tommy in 1968, telling The Globe And The Mail, “What had actually happened to the Who is that we’d kind of lost our mojo in a sense. We were a singles band. We were colorful. We were interesting. We were a lovely foil to the more serious blues bands of the time like Cream and Jimi Hendrix as well. We were lighter-hearted. And certainly with the acid generation, the coming of the hippies, the activism against the Vietnam War, some of the lightheartedness around the Who seemed to make us appear vapid. We were going to lose our audience as a live band, which was when we were most effective.”

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