Popular Culture (Music) 20120203: A Brief History of The Who. 1976

(10 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Last time we looked at 1975, and if anything 1976 was a bit more settled for The Who in some respects.  Most of their time was spent doing a huge tour, with multiple Atlantic Ocean crossings.  There were a couple of reasons for that.

Likely the largest reason was that the dispute betwixt the band and Kit Lambert was still in litigation, and it was sort of difficult to release old material, and new material was still being written.  They were stuck in a way just to perform live.  That was to my personal advantage, and more on that is to come later.

One the whole, the band were probably at their best musically in 1976.  The exception was Moon, who was beginning to accelerate his decline both personally and musically, but that did not come out until sort of late in the year.

As I said, they spent most of the year on tour, but really did not get started until late February.  Townshend went to India earlier in the month to pay tribute to Meyer Baba and it seems that he found some peace doing that.  He was more mentally stable after the visit and was able to continue the tour dates without losing it for pretty much the rest of 1976.

MCA released the Daltrey single “Oceans Away” with the “B” side “Feeling” sometime in January in the US where it failed to chart.  It was not released in the UK.

They played a few venues in Europe late in February, and then started a North American tour in early March.  This was fortuitous for me, because I got to see them that March.  The first concert, in Boston, was not very good.  On 19760309 Moon, plastered on drink and barbiturates, passed out and could not be awakened after the second song.  They did make it up on 19760401, but this was the not the first clue that Moon was in a very steep decline.

It was on 19760316 that I saw the entire, original band live.  It was at the Tarrant County Convention Center in Fort Worth, Texas, a huge indoor venue.  I wish that my memory of it were better.  A couple of friends and I drove down there, but I had the flu and was running 105 degrees.  No matter now bad I felt, I was determined to see them.

We had our tickets, and got in fine, and took our seats.  I was so ill that I can not even remember who opened for them, or if anyone did.  I do remember a wonderful show, and even a comment that Townshend made about Moon needing to go and have a caustic enema.  It is sort of sad that my otherwise outstanding memory has a big blank for this concert, but once I get over 102 degrees I get sort out of things.  My normal body temperature is lower than most folks, running around 97.8, so 105 degrees was extremely high.  I wish that I could provide more details, but I am very blurry about that night.  It was a good thing that I was not driving.  I was exactly two weeks over 19 years of age then.  Here is the playlist:

1. I Can’t Explain

2. Substitute

3. My Wife

4. Baba O’Riley

5. Squeeze Box

6. Behind Blue Eyes

7. Dreaming From The Waist

8. Magic Bus

9. Amazing Journey

10. Sparks

11. The Acid Queen

12. Fiddle About

13. Pinball Wizard

14. I’m Free

15. Tommy’s Holiday Camp

16. We’re Not Gonna Take It

17. See Me Feel Me/Listening To You

18. Summertime Blues

19. My Generation

20. Join Together

21. Roadrunner

22. My Generation Blues

23. Won’t Get Fooled Again

And here are a few songs from it.  Sorry, audio only.

“My Wife”

“Squeeze Box”

“Tommy” medley

“Won’t Get Fooled Again”

It is really a hoot to hear the very songs that I heard live those many years ago!

They finished up that leg of the North American tour on 19760401 and took the rest of the month off to rest and recuperate.  They they started playing venues in the UK for a couple of weeks.  One of those concerts is of particular note because on 19760531 The Who made the Guinness Book of World Records for having the loudest concert on record at the time, at 120 decibels at 50 meters.  To give you some perspective as to how loud that is, a jack hammer at one meter is around 100 db, and being behind a jet engine at 100 meters is around 120 db.  This 120 db was measured at 50 m, so the sound level on stage was likely betwixt 150 and 160 db, far in excess of the level required to damage hearing.

On 19760807 MCA released “Slip Kid” with “B” side “Dreaming from the Waist” in the US, where it failed to chart.  Polydor did not release this single in the UK.

They returned to North America on 19760801.  This let was cut short by Moon’s collapse, requiring him to be hospitalized for eight days.  Most biographers agree that the cause of his collapse was a combination of way too much drink, most probably too many stimulants, and the tour schedule.  You have to remember that Moon put more energy into his performances than the rest of the band combined.

Polydor released a compilation album, The Story of The Who, in the UK on 19760924, and it charted to #2.  For some reason MCA did not release it in the US.

On 19761021 the band played the last of their North American venues in Toronto.  No one knew at the time that this would be Moon’s very last performance before a live, paying audience.  They had booked concerts for the next two days, but for various reasons they were called off.

Polydor released the single “Substitute/I’m a Boy” with the “B” side “Pictures of Lily” on 19761022 in the UK, where it charted to #7.  MCA did not release it in the US.  This was the last record to be released in 1976 by the entire band or any solo acts, and 1977 is notable in that no new material at all was released.  All of the records were either compilations of earlier, already released work or tracks from albums released previously.

The UK media stated that Moon and Annette were to be married within a few days, and that was news to her.  The wedding was called off, but they remained close.  She was with him when he died in 1978.

Townshend got tired of touring during that grueling year, and vowed never to tour again, at least with that much time and effort devoted to it.  He recognized that he was severely damaging his hearing from the sheer volume of the sound on stage, and also realized that he was growing estranged from his family because of all of the time away.  As a matter of fact, The Who never toured again until after Moon’s death.  That is not to say that they did not do a couple of live performances, but those were in 1977 for private audiences and there were only just a few.

Well, that does it for 1976.  Next time we shall tackle 1977, and then only one more installment will be left.  Please feel free to add any comment and embed songs that you like.

Warmest regards,

Doc, aka Dr. David W. Smith

Crossposted at

The Stars Hollow Gazette,

Daily Kos, and



  1. getting close to the end of this series?

    Warmest regards,


  2. I very much appreciate it.  Spelling is difficult because of the water running from my eyes.

    Warmest regards,


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