Popular Culture (Music) 20120210: A Brief History of The Who. 1977

(9 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Last time we looked at the extremely busy 1976, a year filled with touring in Europe, the UK, and especially in North America.  It turns out that 1977 would be relatively quiet from that perspective, but quite lively from some others.

Townshend was burnt out from touring, and, interestingly, Daltrey was as well.  He even turned down a lucrative set of North American opportunities, saying that he could not devote the emotion and energy to a solo tour that he should reserve for future tours with The Who.

On the other hand, Entwistle and Moon lived to tour, but did not.  Moon never really had the wherewithal to tour solo, and the last time that Entwistle did he lost lots of money.  So they pretty stayed put for 1977.

Daltrey and Townshend were not idle, however, and did some good work.  Moon was getting close to the final stages of self destruction (to be realized the next year), and Entwistle got busy with being the musical director for the seminal film about The Who, The Kids are Alright, which was shot that year.  If you have not yet seen that documentary, I strongly recommend that you rent it and I suspect, if you are a real fan of The Who, end up buying it.  There will be more on that later.

By the end of 1976 Townshend was sort of frantic.  His children hardly recognized him from all of the absent time from touring, his hearing was severely damaged, and his faith in what rock really meant had been shaken to the core.  He took solace in working with Ronnie Lane on an album called Rough Mix, a studio effort with his friend and fellow Baba Meyer follower.  That album was critically very well received, but did not chart that well.

This year was one of upheaval in some respects, but also saw some resolution from bad legal associations and some financial relief for Townshend especially.  It turns out that an incident one evening was the impetus for the song “Who are You?”.

There were no releases either in the US or the UK of material by The Who, neither old material nor new.  That was the first time since 1972 for no release by the band, at least in one country or the other.  However, both Daltrey and Townshend released solo or collaborative material.

Anyhow, let us get with the timeline.

Both Daltrey and Townshend worked on their own projects for the first three months of the year.  On 19770110 a settlement was finally reached with Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp over the Track Records debacle, with Lambert and Stamp getting little to show for it.  Townshend came out with over a million pounds for his US publishing rights alone, even though the hated Allen Klein was by then part owner of them.  This made Townshend by far the wealthiest member of the band.  Unlike blogging, songwriting can really pay!

Oddly enough, Townshend and Stamp remained close although the bond with Lambert was irretrievably broken.  Townshend and Stamp went to a popular bar, the Speakeasy, that evening to see John Otway.  Townshend got wasted because of resentment that Klein was now involved in his business affairs, and he was in a really bad mood.  Two of the Sex Pistols were there, an when a photographer showed up Townshend started throwing punches around after preaching from his chair for a while.  He finally left and passed out on a stranger’s front doorstep, being awakened by a young policeman who recognized him, telling him that if he were sober enough to walk he could go home.  Thus was the impetus for the song “Who are You?”.

Daltrey did a good deed for a child on 19770205, appearing with a young Sally Anne Pearson who was too little to see the movie Tommy and wrote in to a TeeVee show where a DJ tries to make things right for people.  Sally had said in her letter that she wanted to meet Tommy, and she did.

The single taken from Daltrey’s One of the Boys “Written on the Wind” with the “B” side “Dear John” was released by Polydor in the UK on 19770422.  It was never released in the US, and failed to chart in the UK.

One of the Boys, Daltrey’s solo album, was released in the UK on Polydor on 19770520 where it charted at #45.  The same record was released by MCA in the US on 19770611 and it charted at #46.

Production for the film The Kids are Alright began on 19770530.  As I said previously, I highly recommend it.

Polydor also released the single from One of the Boys, “One of the Boys” with the “B” side “You Put Something Better inside Me” in the UK on 19770624, and it did not chart, either.  MCA declined to release it in the US.

MCA released the Daltrey single “Say it Ain’t so, Joe” with the “B” side “Satin & Lace” in the US on 19770730, where it also failed to chart.  It was never released in the UK, although it looks like it was planned to be released.  If any of those old Polydor pressings exist, I suspect that they are quite valuable.  It was finally released in the UK by Polydor the next year, where it failed to chart.

Here is “Say it Ain’t so, Joe” from One of the Boys:

The style is quite unlike The Who, but his voice was in excellent form.

Moon returned to the UK on 19770912 to begin rehearsing material with the rest of the band in anticipation of recording Who are You?  It had been almost a year since all four members had worked together, and the rest of the band were horrified at his appearance.  He was very overweight and his musical skills were markedly reduced, in particular his stamina.

Both Polydor in the UK and MCA in the US released the collaboration of Townshend and Lane Rough Mix in September.  It charted to #45 in the US and to #44 in the UK.  Here is the title track:

Townshend made a prescient comment on 19771003 about The Who, saying “…although I love the band, we’ve got to the end of what we can do.”  

MCA released the Daltrey single “Avenging Angel” with the “B” side “The Prisoner” in the US on 19771001, and it charted to #88.

On 19771111 Polydor  released the single “Street in the City” with the “B” side “Annie” from Rough Mix.  It failed to chart, and was not released in the US.

On 19771119 MCA released the single “My Baby Gives it Away” with the “B” side “April Fool”, also from Rough Mix, in the US.  It failed to chart and was not released in the UK.  Here is “My Baby Gives it Away”:

It is classic Townshend!  That was really a good record, and I recommend it to you.  You Tube has quite a bit of material from it.

On 19771215 Moon played his second to last live event, to a private audience of around 800.  This was filmed for The Kids are Alright, but hardly any of it was used in the final release.

This has been sort of a short piece, because 1977 was not that eventful a year.  We shall finish up this series next week, because after the passing of Moon The Who ceased to be, and those left never had the same energy and drive.  Besides, they had been in the business for a long, long time and sort of faded away in many respects.  My eldest son has always said that they should have quit after Who’s Next, but we would have missed some fine music if they had done that.

That will do it for this evening.  Please include any additional material that you desire in the comments.

Warmest regards,

Doc, aka Dr. David W. Smith

Crossposted at

The Stars Hollow Gazette,

Daily Kos, and



  1. the best band ever?

    Warmest regards,


  2. I very much appreciate it.

    Warmest regards,


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