Irish Jack reviews ‘Teenage Wasteland: The Who at Winterland, 1968 and 1976’


by Edoardo Genzolini with foreword by Joel Selvin

Reviewed by IRISH JACK

PETE TOWNSHEND takes a giant leap across the stage and the audience is going wild. He is at Winterland rock venue in San Francisco and it’s February 1968. What could be better?

He is wearing a very impressive looking Pearly King brocaded jacket with a thousand buttons over white pants and trendy soft shoes. Roger Daltrey is resplendent in tight velvet pants and what looks like a short matador’s jacket. John Entwistle is in a characteristic dark suit with a white tie. It could be a wedding suit, it could be a funeral suit. Keith is wearing a ruffled shirt over a light coloured pants. Daltrey’s hair is high on his head coming down over his ears while Townshend’s is a post-Mod creation. These men look fit. Some of the backstage shots taken by lovers of the band who somehow found backstage dressing rooms accessible in those days reveal a wealth of 1968 innocence, and these are genuinely the best photos in this book. Even the somewhat unedifying shots of Daltrey with a cigarette dangling from his mouth is in contradiction to the group’s rendition of Little Billy which the American Cancer Society asked for but never used.

After the giant leap when Townshend lands a few feet away on the floor  –  he is still playing at Winterland but it is now March 1976 !  Some eight years later. WOW !  Yes, wow, indeed. Some leap. He is wearing his trademark Dr. Marten industrial boots.. They are tied with bootlaces bought by me   -Irish Jack-  and sent to him through the post from a traditional cobbler in Shandon Street in Cork in southern Ireland  –  where I come from. Not Shepherd’s Bush.

The band look very different. Townshend is wearing a tight wrap-around brown jacket that clings to his torso over what would be known in England as ‘cricket whites’. They are wide and flared and the ends trail over the Dr. Marten boots. Daltrey is wearing tight denim jeans with a pair of green, yellow and red braces holding them up. Under the braces is a workman-like white shirt with sleeves rolled up. His hair has changed dramatically since 1968. Now it is long and curled and upon first glance one could be forgiven for thinking that this could be another rock god called Robert Plant. John Entwistle has grown a beard and moustache. He is wearing a long casual light coloured jacket with what looks like the design of a spider both sides. Underneath is a black tee-shirt sporting what looks like lettering saying..’Tommy Twinkle’. There’s a pronounced bulge over his groin area evidence of his well known generous endowment south of the border and by now he sports his trade mark spider brooch around his neck. Attached to his microphone are the two bottles of ‘sustenance’ he will occasionally sip from during the performance.  Moonie has also grown a beard and moustache. He is wearing a sleeveless tee-shirt over striped pants and he’s as mad as ever.

The seismic shift from 1968 to 1976, a span of only eight years  – not even 10 but eight !  –  is a huge leap of faith. 1968 was only a year after the Who had wowed and yes, seduced, the hippy multitude grooving on acid down in the front at Monterey when somewhere in between the soft rock of Buffalo Springfield and the Grateful Dead comes four snotty-nosed Mod urchins from London’s Shepherd’s Bush with a mini opera called ‘A Quick One’.  ‘Her man’s being gone for nigh on a year (Shakespeare?), he was due home yesterday but he ain’t here.‘  And then they sing the instrumental parts because when they recorded it Kit Lambert couldn’t afford an orchestra…’Dang, Dang, Dang, Dang, Dang, Dang, Dang, Dang‘  –  and then ‘Cello, Cello, Cello, Cello,  –  Cello, Cello, Cello, Cello, –  Cello, Cello, Cello, Cello,  –  Cello, Cello, Cello, Cello,‘  – What the fuck?  And this is English rock being redefined. It was outrageous, audacious and subversive.

And yet, for all that, 1968 was a lean year for the Who. The hits had dried up. ‘Call Me Lightning’ released in America and ‘Dogs’ in the UK were so Who-lite they almost sounded like something the English band The Tremeloes would release. And ‘Magic Bus’ was also ignored by the public. 1968 seemed to mirror the hard-geezer, boisterous pop identidy of the Who….’We were the first band to vomit in the bar, and find the distance to the stage too far..‘  As well as singing about greyhounds at the famous White City dog track they even got roped into sponsoring a Rally car with a bevy of the customary half-naked models spread-eagled across the racing car’s bonnet.

So forget 1968. But don’t ever forget the two nights at Winterland, San Francisco. And don’t forget Martin Luther King  –  and whilst you’re reading this review remind me of that great American trade union poem by Alfred Hayes and composed into a song by Earl Robinson and sung constantly by Paul Robeson and Pete Seeger..(I learned it when I was a fledgling communist back in the 70s)  ‘I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night, alive as you or me. Said I,  ‘but Joe, you’re ten years dead’. ‘I never died,’ said he. From San Diego up to Maine in every mine and mill, where working men defend their rights tis there you’ll find Joe Hill.‘  Joan Baez sang it at Woodstock and the late Luke Kelly of the Dubliners always gave a great rendition. Well, they killed Martin Luther King alright but he never really died, did he !

In 1968 America was on fire with civil unrest. Vietnam. The draft. Segregation. Basic human civil rights. The right to smoke pot. The hippy chaos and politic was tearing across America like a crazed painter with a broad canvas. Timothy Leary was advocating psychedelic drugs as pathways to well being.  Augustus Owsley Stanley III the Grateful Dead’s roadie was manufacturing drugs in a lab. And somewhere in all that civil unrest and amid the melting pot of new found consciousness and legacy of people like Woody Guthrie and in many ways Bob Dylan, someone said, ‘You know what?  Rosa Parks was fucking right. Why should a black woman have to give up her bus seat to someone white? ” Yes, America was waking up from the Hollywood cowboy dream. 1968 was only a year after the Who’s first introduction to America and only a year before a motor-cycling hippy called Michael Lang would start looking for a field in Bethel in upstate New York.  As everyone knows the Who started out back in March 1967 on the bizarre Murray The K’s five-shows-a-day at the RKO 58th Street Theater in New York. Then having wasted the crowd at Monterey, unbelievably the stellar stars of that 3-day event signed up for a grueling 58-day jaunt around America supporting the truly banal English pop group Herman’s Hermits. After the first week the Who soon got tired of explaining feedback and auto-destruction to over-excited Vice Presidents of the Herman’s Hermits Fan Club of America, and there were many. Then, gluttons for tour punishment the Who started the first month of 1968 with the horror show, mutton dressed as lamb, playing possibly the last of what had become known to fans as the ‘package show era’. And was it a package show !  Australia and New Zealand. Jesus !

So let’s pop back to Winterland 1968. It’s a little unusual but Bill Graham who owns the venue along with the Fillmore Auditorium has decided that the Who will do two sets of different songs for Friday 23 February and Saturday 24. The Who split their repertoire into two halves for each night playing nine songs first set and different songs the second set. They are supported by a band called the Vagrants with Leslie West of later Mountain fame on guitar. Also added to the bill was the English band The Nice whom I had seen a couple of times at the London Marquee. Their keyboard player was the flamboyant Keith Emerson who’d later find fame with a much larger group Emerson, Lake & Palmer. An unusual but delightful inclusion on the Winterland bill was the Cannonball Adderley Quintet and there are some great black and white shots of Cannonball by Frank Stapleton. Pete Townshend praised them no end citing Adderley as an early influence on him. Pete would have heard a lot about Cannonball from his jazz influenced dad Cliff. The venue holds no more than 5,400   Townshend is in crouch position with knees dipped and arms outstretched like the wings of a Lear jet. The 1968 Winterland brocade jacket is shining lie a beacon and hangs from his scrawny shoulders. Behind Townshend the speakers relay the controlled drone emanating from his sunburst Stratocaster. As he sways slightly from side to side the drone from the guitar increases and changes direction. It is almost controlled chaos as the feedback screams like a tortured jet engine and the packed Winterland is mesmerized because nobody has seen anyone use a guitar like this before.

Yet still the drone increases and look again cos we’re still at the Winterland but it’s 1976 !

Townshend is now wearing a light brown casual jacket, tightly wrapped around his torso, flared ‘cricket whites’ and the trade mark Dr. Marten work boots. And yes, he’s still in crouch position with knees slightly bent and arms outstretched like aeroplane wings. Some jump !  Townshend’s leap took eight years. And by now rock has aged so much that to many it’s become unrecognisable. 1976 has become so uncool and yet some of the best music we are as ever likely to hear has been recorded and performed. The epoch-defining Dark Side Of The Moon is a year old and stubbornly refuses to slip out of the chart. Others have weighed in with their lot. The trendy ‘concept album’ has become the order of the day with many bands derisory of the simple single release. By 1976 the Who have released the sublime Who’s Next and Who By Numbers, they have made the leap from dance hall sell-outs to stadium rock. The film Tommy starring such luminaries as Ann-Margaret, Oliver Reed, Jack Nicholson, Eric Clapton and Elton John is out. Directed by the genius villain-in-the-pack Ken Russell the film is a media mega-storm. Tommy is bigger than the Who. Tommy, arguably Townshend’s double album masterpiece is alive and well making the band into millionaires. The band’s working personnel has mushroomed. “You’re gonna need a bigger van!” is an in-joke between the band’s roadies and a steal from a well known 1975 film. The latter-years’ chaos of Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp has changed to Bill Curbishley’s steady pair hands and no-nonsense business attitude, and the band need him.

So things are looking up for 1976 and yes, Pete is still typing me the odd letter when he can find time. He sends me a portable red Olympic typewriter in ’76 saying in his accompanying letter that he hopes it will do two things :  keep my marriage together and get me writing. It does both.  And of course since Winterland 1968 the Who have presented us with the truly magnificent Quadrophenia double album. If Tommy floated on a majestic tidal wave, Quadrophenia was the working man’s bible and a factual retrospective of a fashion and social phenomena in the early 60s. And this album made everyone sit up. But how strange dear Hamlet that even in 1976 when the three-year old evocative Quadrophenia has become a vinyl best-seller both sides of the Atlantic not a single track from the album appears in the 1976 Winterland 20-song set list. Not one. Of the twenty songs performed eight are from Tommy. Townshend what were you thinking?  Standing in the crowd with her camera to record every nuance of movement is Sansara-Nirvana Murphy whose truly incredible photography is captured both nights in black and white and colour and particularly the second night in Super 8 film. And all of this is striking evidence in this wonderful and loyal book by author and passionate Who writer Edoardo Genzolini. Genzolini and Schiffer Publishing have asked me to review this book and I immediately said yes. But now I’m not so sure because this is a mammoth task. I’m all over the place with this review because Genzolini specialises in Detail. Everything in this book is about detail. And it is the detail that makes this journal a triumph.

On page 39 for instance Who fan Douglas P. Bratt has exposed his personal written diary for all to see. There’s something dressing-room-ish about reading another person’s diary. On Tuesday February 20th (1968) yes, ’68. He writes : ‘Finished 1st 20 bars in 1st movement of modern dance score. It sounds pretty cool. Going to dance tomorrow night at school. Might go see the “who” at Fillmore Thursday with Dan. (Yes, he put Who in low case with inverted commas.)  Then on February 22nd he’s writing again and over the word Thursday he’s written holiday. He writes : ‘Rained today. (Raining in San Francisco?)  ‘Rained today. Went to Dan’s & played chess. Ray Sparling came over for awhile. Went & saw the “who”  (he’s back on the low case and Who in inverted commas). Then : ”Cannonball Adderley”, “the Vagrants” & “the Nice” at Fillmore with Dan.’  –  He MIGHT go to see the Who !  This is truly wonderful stuff. This is detail and imagine anybody keeping such a diary from 1968. I bow to thee Mr. Bratt. Genzolini is like an Italian police inspector from Perugia. It’s his quest for detail that sometimes describes fans of the Who that delivers such a valid account.

The real stuff continues on pages 36 / 37 where Rick Chapman who ran the Meher Baba Information Centre in Berkeley describes meeting Pete Townshend for the first time. Chapman tells Genzolini that he actually knew very little about who he was or the Who for that matter. In an engaging story of events Chapman tells us that he drove Pete from San Francisco to San Jose where the band were due to play at the Civic Auditorium. Upon arrival in San Jose Pete booked him into a room next door at the Hilton. A short time later they went to the hotel’s underground parking area to drive to the venue. But Chapman’s silver gray 1960 Lincoln Continental wouldn’t start. Chapman was both embarrassed and panicking. He describes Townshend as being cool and ‘sanguine’ about the whole episode…Pete aware that the show couldn’t possibly start without him. After a very long and frustrating fifteen minutes the car starts. Rick Chapman has some really insightful personal memories to share with Genzolini about Pete’s quest in following the spiritual teacher Meher Baba but the reader has to read this for himself.

On page 136 / 138  there is a truly wonderful account by Who fan Craig Patterson. Patterson recounts how having managed to get backstage into the dressing room area he and his friend Randy Tinch got talking to Leslie West of the Vagrants support band, West was sitting within the proximity of Townshend. Randy Tinch inquired of the bulky sized West, “Where are you guys from (meaning the Vagrants) ?”  West looked at him and replied with a measure of cool, “New York.”  Craig Patterson admits that his friend Randy Tinch could sometimes be a real wise guy and Tinch responded to Leslie West with the put down…”Oh..are all the people from New York as fat as you ?”  Genzolini features probably one of the best pictures in the book and again just letting you know just how good this book really is the photo was taken by Craig Patterson with his Kodak Instamatic. Capturing the complete innocence of the time Townshend accepts Patterson and Tinch’s gift of the battered guitar case which contains the Kay acoustic guitar. Next to it is an even better shot, blurred  -well, of course it’s blurred –   and there is Pete Townshend looking square into Patterson’s Kodak smiling and happy to accept the gift of the beat up Kay guitar and quipping  “Thanks. I needed another guitar case…”  You don’t get many instances like that. Townshend completely relaxed, friendly and happy, waiting to go back on stage for the Winterland second set. Those were such amazing times. Just look at a lot of the shots from that 1968 era when the band’s dressing room would be filled with people who sometimes had to pinch themselves to  realise that they were standing next to the Who. The love and welcome from Americans was second to none. There’s no ugly Access All Areas lanyards in any of these innocent shots and if anything, the Patterson / Tinch episode sums it all up.

At the end of the book on pages 244 / 245  there is a double-paged black and white photo by by Sansara-Nirvana Murphy. I did a little bit of measuring. I took a slide rule and from where the two pages meet I measured up twelve-and-a-half centimetres. I pencilled in a dot. I then ran the slide rule across both pages and exactly at 25 centimetres across there is a Who fan lost in thought. He is on his own wearing what looks like a denim jacket, his left hand in his pocket. He is staring at the stage hands working and he looks mesmerized almost as if he can’t believe what he just saw. Others in the crowded picture look tired and wasted but happy.

Get out the slide rule and learn all you should know.

IRISH JACK, Cork, Eire, May 2024

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TEENAGE WASTELAND: The Who at Winterland, 1968 and 1976
Edoardo Genzolini. Foreword by Joel Slevin.
Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.
Hard Cover, 256-pp. 225mm x 285mm. 8.75ins x 1 x 11.25ins.
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0764367358
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0764367359

Get your copy here . . .
US. Purchase from Amazon US
UK. Pre-0rder from Amazon UK


2 thoughts on “Irish Jack reviews ‘Teenage Wasteland: The Who at Winterland, 1968 and 1976’”

  1. John Hennigan says:

    I’ve read Bill Graham’s autobiography ‘My life inside of Rock and Out”. Several good Who stories in there I’m sure there’s many more in this book and I’m sure the photography is top notch definitely a must read!

  2. Curt Dawson says:

    well thanks Irish Jack, that sums it up, top drawer.
    Still agog over the 1976 ticket lottery, which featured well over 100,000 entries (up to 4 tickets each) for the 10,800 total
    seats at the old ice rink. Some lucky ticketholders may have
    felt there was divine intervention…

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