Popular Culture (Music) 20120106: A Brief History of The Who

We covered 1971, one of their stellar years, last time.  Even with the crushing bruise to his ego about the collapse of Lifehouse, Townshend was soldiering on, starting to write new material for what many consider to the be finest effort that The Who would ever produce.  But 1972 was a slow year for them in many ways, and it took its toll.

They did not do a North American tour, and only did a few venues in Europe.  What is not widely known was that the rift betwixt the band and Kit Lambert was growing, due both to Lambert’s increasingly debilitating addiction to narcotics and alcohol and for lack of studio work for them.  They started working with Glyn Johns more and more, but Lambert still controlled the finances at Track Records, and that eventually prove to be a disaster.

Townshend spent most of the first two months of the year visiting shrines to Meyer Baba, his religious center, in India.  He also recorded some music that was released in limited editions to people who bought albums from the Baba association.  I have not included any of that in this piece, out of respect for Townshend.  I think that he would think that it is too personal for public display except for the faithful.

The first life changing event of 1972 happened to Entwistle, when his and his mate’s first child was born on 19720123.  They named him Christopher Alexander Entwistle.

Entwistle was pretty prolific in early 1972, and recorded Whistle Rymes betwixt April and May of that year.  More on it later.

A large part of what little studio work that the band did together was in late May, when they recorded “Join Together” and “Relay”.

Both Townshend and Entwistle were busy mixing their solo efforts in May and June for Whistle Rymes and Who Came First.  Whilst most of Entwistle’s work was original, a whole lot of the material for Townshend’s effort were demo recordings for many of the songs that The Who released.

They did some studio work in June, and in my opinion recorded quite a bit of their best work to date.  On 19720605 they recorded “Long Live Rock”, which I think really captures their essence quite well.  The next day they recorded “Put the Money Down”, another great song.  I shall be sure to include them soon, but prefer to wait until a single of album is released to keep the bandwidth that I use to a reasonable size.

On 19720616, the single “Join Together” with the “B” side “Baby Don’t You Do It” was released in the UK by Track and charted at #9.  The same was released in the US by Decca on 19720708, where it charted to #17.  This is really a fine song, and was one the first releases on film that Townshend had craved for those so many years, particularly after the crash of the Lifehouse project.  Unfortunately, the video was really not done that well.  Here it is, and you can easily see that all of it was staged:

What a poor showing for Townshend’s grandiose dreams for Lifehouse!

Interestingly, the Marvin Gaye song from the “B” side pretty much captures my emotional state at present, and they did it very well.  I believe that this is a 1971 recording of it:

It was 19720811 when the band did their first live concert to together, in Frankfurt at what was then West Germany.  They played in Halle the next day, and then Brussels, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Copenhagen, Berlin, Essen, Vienna, Munich, Zurich, and Paris, with over 400,000 folks at that open air concert.  Then to Lyon, Rome, and then back home.  The Rome concert was on 19720914, so it was an intense, but short, tour.  North America was much more lucrative for them in 1971.

One thing that the band did do that was quite significant was to buy their own recording studio.  It actually was not a studio at the time, but they renovated it thus converting into a studio. plus it had enough space to house the 60,000 or so pounds of stage equipment.  They had come a long way from Townshend’s mum driving them to gigs!

The first solo album by any of the band, Townshend’s Who Came First, was released in the UK by Track on 19720909 where it charted at #30.  Decca released in the the US the next day, and it charted at #69 there.  This is actually quite a good record, and I shall do a piece on it soon.  One song the I find hauntingly beautiful is Townshend’s cover of the Jim Reeves standard, “There’s a Heartache Following Me”.  Tell me what you think:

Before you comment, here is Jim Reeves’s original.  I am not a real fan of country music, but that guy did have a really nice voice.  If the steel guitar were taken away, I might like it better. This particular song (Townshend’s version) is sort of descriptive of me at present.  Please keep my feelings about it out of your comments, because I no longer comment about personal situations.

Another life changing event occurred on 19721003 when Rosie Lea Daltrey was born.  This was actually his third child, with his second (and current) wife, the former Heather Taylor.

The second solo album to be released by a band member, Entwistle’s Whistle Rymes, hit the shelves in the UK on 19721103 by Track, and it failed to chart.  Decca released it in the US by Decca the next day, where it reached #138.  As with Who Came First, I shall do a piece on it soon.

The second single by The Who, “Relay” with the “B” side “Waspman” was released in the US by Decca on 19721125, where it charted at #39.  The US title was actually “The Relay”.  Track released it on 19721222 in the UK, and it charted at #21.  That was the very last record released by them in the US on the Decca label.

“Relay” is a really good song, but “Waspman” is sort of silly, sort of like “Dogs 2”.  There they are, the first being the studio version of “Relay”, the second a live version of it, and the third “Waspman”:

One other notable activity was the orchestral version of Tommy produced by Lou Reizner and released on Lou Adler’s Ode record label in the US on 19721125 and also on Ode in the UK on 19721208.  I could not find charting data, but do know that it quickly went gold.  The UK release coincided, almost, with the 19721209 live performances of Reizner’s adaptation at the Rainbow in London.  Interestingly, there is a connexion betwixt The Who and the TeeVee program Dr. Who in this production, the only connexion that I have ever been able to find other than the coincidental surname of Verity Lambert, the first producer of Dr. Who and Kit Lambert, the longtime producer of The Who.

This connexion is that in the 19731213 and 14 performances, Jon Pertwee, still playing the role of The Doctor in the series was one of the performers in that production.  I realize that this was a year later, but it is just too good not to say.  Pertwee, whilst currently playing The Doctor on Dr. Who, played The Doctor in that stage production of Tommy!  I find that very, very cool.

All in all, 1972 was not a terrifically productive year for The Who as a group, but during some of this down time Entwistle was touring with his band, he and Townshend released solo albums, and Townshend was working on the next new project, what would eventually be named Quadrophenia.  It astounds me that no album was released in 1972, but there is a reason for that.

They were working in studio with Glyn Johns on a new record and had recorded quite a bit of material for it when everyone decided that it would be way to much like Who’s Next, so they abandoned it.  Some of that material would be released the next year on the compilation album Odds and Sods.

Next week we shall look at 1973, a banner year in some respects and a disaster in others.  With The Who, it was rare for things to be on an even keel, and 1972 was one of those rare years.  The next year promised to be much more active.

I hope that you enjoyed this bit of history, and that you will read, listen, and comment.  I always enjoy it when my readers share their thoughts with me.

Warmest regards,

Doc, aka Dr. David W. Smith

Crossposted at

The Stars Hollow Gazette,

Daily Kos, and



  1. a quiet year for The Who?

    Warmest regards,


Comments have been disabled.