(9 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
If 1974 had been a bizarre year, 1975 was more structured in some ways. Several events happened in 1975 that were important to their financial security, for both good and ill.
The most significant events of 1975 were the release of the motion picture Tommy, the release of The Who by Numbers, and the beginning of a huge tour of Europe, the UK, and North America. Now, there were certainly some problems associated with all three of these events, but 1975 turned out to be a pretty good year for them.
However, Townshend was not a really good frame of mind for much of the year. He was very unhappy with his place in the band and whether or not there even should be a band called The Who, at least with him in it. It is sort of an interesting turn of events that kept them together, and there is more on that later.
Entwistle continued to tour from early January with Ox, as mentioned last time, with horrible economic consequences for him. They finally ended the tour on 19750323 in North America, Entwistle being around $70,000 poorer for the effort.
Daltrey had started filming Lisztomania, another Ken Russell film, on 19750203. It was a bizarre film better forgotten in my opinion. He also finished up his work on his next solo effort, Ride a Rock Horse, that was released later in the year.
The UK arm of Decca, in a one time deal, released the only single from Mad Dog (and Entwistle’s very last single as a solo act) on 19750207. “Mad Dog” with the “B” side of “Cell Number Seven”. It failed to chart and was never released in the US.
The first major event of the year was the release on 19750222 in the US by Polydor of the soundtrack for Tommy, where it charted at #2. Polydor also released in in the UK but on 19750321, where it charted there at #21.
Polydor also released a single from the soundtrack, sometime in March in the US, and on 19750411 in the UK. “”Listening to You, See Me Feel Me” with “Overture” as the “B” side failed to chart either place.
On 19750317 MCA released Two Sides of the Moon in the US, where it charted at #155. Polydor released the same album in the UK on 19750425, where it failed to chart. MCA did not like the expensive album sleeve, complete with a sliding inner sleeve with more photographs on it, one of which has Moon mooning the audience. Moon was keen to keep the expensive cover, and threatened the antique wooden desk of one of the executives with a fire axe that he appropriated from the hallway of the building. The executive relented.
The next day Tommy had its premiere in New York. The motion picture was recorded in Quintophonic sound, pretty much the forerunner of Dolby Surround Sound. However, one must remember that everything was analogue at the time and there was a severe problem in coordinating all five of the sound channels. Townshend himself had to fiddle about with the sound system even as the opening started, but finally got it right.
The very next day, with the sound reproduction bugs worked out, it opened in Los Angeles. The very next day after that, Daltrey’s daughter, Willow Amber, was born in the UK.
Sometime in April, and I can not find the exact date, MCA released “Solid Gold” with the “B” side “Move over Miss L” in the US from Two Sides of the Moon. It failed to chart, and was not released in the UK.
During all of this time, Townshend had been working on material for their next record. They finally started the recording session on 19750430, but Daltrey was still filming Lisztomania and could not join in at the time. Townshend was in a bad mood and things did not go well at first. After a couple of days rehearsing, Townshend found his sea legs and things went pretty well after that. All of the instrumentals were recorded before Daltrey was available, and Glyn Johns produced and mixed the album.
Polydor released “Don’t Worry Baby” with the “B” side of “Together” from Two Sides of the Moon in the UK on 19750502, where it failed to chart. There was no US release.
On 19750530, the first single from Ride a Rock Horse “Get Your Love” with the “B” side of “World Over” was released by Polydor in the UK, where it failed to chart. It was never released in the US.
Since the soundtrack for Tommy had nothing to do with Track Records, there was not any problem releasing it. However, all of their other material was in limbo because of the legal action betwixt the band, Kit Lambert, and Chris Stamp. Although the band had fulfilled its contractual obligations with Track and were free to release new material, the older material was essentially frozen. On 19750719, Lambert went to the press and told his side (leaving out the embezzlement thing).
Lambert maintained that Robert Stigwood (the money behind the motion picture) essentially stole the idea of a movie version from him, that Lambert held the worldwide copyright, that Stigwood had alienated Stamp from him, that the current manager for The Who, Bill Curbishley, was illegitimate, and a number of other mostly baseless accusations. Lambert had his panties in a wad because he actually did try to pitch Tommy as a motion picture (without the knowledge or consent of Townshend) years before and was hurt because it was rejected. This case would not be resolved until the next year. The outcome at present was that any records produced by Track had their revenues frozen, so The Who had essentially no income except for the Tommy soundtrack.
Sometime in July MCA released “Crazy Like a Fox” with the “B” side of “In My Life” from Two Sides of the Moon in the US, where it failed to chart. It was never released in the UK.
Polydor released a second single from Ride a Rock Horse in the UK on 19750808, “Walking the Dog” with the “B” side “Proud” where it failed to chart. It also was never released in the US. That would be the very last release of either a single or an album my Moon, although some enhanced versions of Two sides of the Moon were released years later.
On 19751003 Polydor released The Who by Numbers in the UK, where it charted at #7. MCA released it in the US on 19751025, where it charted at #8. I mentioned in the link that Entwistle did the cover artwork, and continued to draw doodles the rest of his life.
The day after Polydor released The Who by Numbers in the UK, MCA released another single from Ride a Rock Horse in the US. “(Come and) Get Your Love” with the “B” side of “Hearts Right” charted at #68. It was never released in the UK.
Now that The Who by Numbers was released, it was time to get back on the road. They began a UK tour on 19751003 with Townshend still in a funk. However, they persevered and started what Polydor wanted to be a The Who by Numbers tour, but that was not much of the material that they played.
A financial disaster struck on 19751017 when Moon was arrested for causing a disturbance and breaking a British Airways computer terminal at Prestwick Airport in Glasgow. Fog had socked in the airport, and there were no takeoffs. Moon, in his usual fashion, overreacted and was fined 30 pounds for breaking the terminal and another 30 pounds for what we would call disorderly conduct. Now, 60 pounds is not THAT much, but since no commercial carrier would allow The Who to fly in their craft, they had to hire a private charter jet for the remainder of the tour at a clip of 300,000 pounds, at that time around $1,000,000.
The next day they played a venue in Leicester in England that I sort of relate to in a way. That was the very first time that their signature laser show was used, and I saw it early in 1976. It was pretty spectacular. I was just 19 years old and was running 105 degrees with the flu. Here it is:
One of the reasons for the extensive touring (it would last almost until the end of 1976) was the kerfuffle with Lambert and Track. Since they were under new management, their new records (all one of them!) generated revenue for the band, but the assets from their older material, including Tommy and Quadrophenia, were essentially frozen until the litigation became complete, something that did not happen for a long, long time. With the lifestyles that the band now had, income was critical. Touring was a way to raise cash fast, and they toured themselves out, essentially. But tour they did, and most of the shows were good.
They began the first of three parts of a North American tour on 19751120, and MCA released the single “Squeeze Box” with the “B” side “Success Story” on 19751122, where it charted at #16. That single was released by Polydor in the UK early the next year, where it became a Top Ten single, their first in a long time.
The rest of 1975 was occupied with touring, and they ended the year back in the UK hosting another set of Christmas concerts. Next year it would be back on the road again.
All said, 1975 was a pretty good year for The Who from a financial standpoint, although personal conflicts, in particular betwixt Daltrey and Townshend, were a drain on Townshend especially. Townshend ended the year still in a funk, but 1976 held promise to be a better year for them. However, 1976 would also presage the increasingly rapid demise of Moon, and we shall talk about that next time.
Thank you for reading, and please comment liberally. I did not put many embeds in this, since I am not particularly fond of the Tommy motion picture and covered The Who by Numbers in the link provided. However, I will include a bit from the motion picture that I like very much, even though Townshend sings it in the movie rather than Daltrey, and the original did not have so much of a Diddley beat.
I can only give a link, because the embed is disabled. For comparison, here is the original:
Please, all, have a wonderful evening. I very much appreciate my readers and like it when they provide comments.
Doc, aka Dr. David W. Smith
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