Pete Townshend told Classic Rock that during the psychedelic era, bands like Pink Floyd threatened to expose The Who as youthful artists who couldn’t keep up with them, particularly before their rock opera ‘Tommy,’ by saying: “Before ‘Tommy,’ we were a UK singles band who smashed guitars and wore funny outfits.” We weren’t far from Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick, and Titch, who appeared on ‘Top Of The Pops’ every month and tried to reach number one.
Jimi Hendrix, Cream, and even Pink Floyd in their early days threatened to reveal The Who as a lads’ band incapable of rising to the spiritual and subversive romanticism of the psychedelic era.” The Who took a chance and published their conceptual musical ‘Tommy,’ as Pete described, after feeling the need to transcend from a singles band that couldn’t soar in Pink Floyd’s eyes. “‘Tommy’ had done better than we expected. We all immediately forgot about the reality of our situation and what may have transpired. We would have sunk into obscurity if ‘Tommy’ had failed.
” The Who’s bold approach of creating a conceptual rock opera was successful, as it became a Tony-winning Broadway musical while also allowing them to be in the same lane as some of the industry’s biggest names, such as Pink Floyd. Several decades later, it is being revived for fresh audiences at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. Pete revealed that he made certain changes to the musical, which will run from June 26th to July 23rd, in order to appeal to today’s audience. More information on the show, as well as tickets, may be found here. Pete Townshend’s Classic Rock interview can be found here, and you can listen to ‘Tommy’ below.