Teenage Wasteland: The Who at Winterland, 1968 and 1976


The Who first went to America in 1967 and from that year on they toured there extensively – and, amazingly, still do. Over the years, they developed a lasting endearment for several particular venues across the US; venues they would affectionately refer to in their later years as their ‘US home’. Places such as the Grande Ballroom in Detroit, MI, run by local DJ Russ Gibb and later managed by Pete’s art school chum, Tom Wright. Madison Square Garden in New York City, of course, and The Spectrum in Philly. Then there were the Fillmores; Fillmore East in NYC and the Fillmore West in San Francisco, both run by the legendary Bill Graham. And when the 1,100-seat Fillmore West proved just too small to meet the demands of thousands of Bay Area teenagers, Graham took on former ice skating rink, the Winterland Ballroom on Post and Steiner Streets with a capacity of 5,400 as his new venue.

The Who played Winterland just four times – well, call it twice if you count their two-nighter appearances there in 1968 and 1976. And it’s these four nights that form the basis of Edoardo Genzolini’s exciting new book, TEENAGE WASTELAND: The Who at Winterland, 1968 and 1976.

Genzolini is a die-hard music fan and a devoted historian of the music and culture of the 1960s and 70s. His attention to detail is extraordinary, collecting minutiae of every tiny morsel and detail, leaving no ticket stub unturned in his quest for information on his subject. His previous books on The Who and Cream were both treasure troves of information and so it is with this new book which kicks off with a scene-setting foreword by Joel Selvin, the pop music critic of the San Francisco Chronicle from 1970-2009.

The band first played  Winterland on the third and fourth night of their 1968 tour of the US and Canada. These two gigs followed a tour-opening night at the Civic Auditorium in San Jose on 21 February and a show at the original Fillmore Auditorium on 22 February supported by The Vagrants (featuring Leslie West), The Nice and the Cannonball Adderley Quintet. A strange, but oddly workable, mix.

The Who didn’t return to Winterland for another eight years, taking the stage there again on 27 and 28 March 1976 – although they’d been back to San Francisco in the meantime, having played the Fillmore West four times, the Civic Auditorium a couple of times, and let us not forget their infamous night in ’73  at the Cow Palace when Keith collapsed at his drum stool.

In focussing on the 1968 and ’76 Winterland shows, TEENAGE WASTELAND: The Who at Winterland, 1968 and 1976 also covers the lead up to both these concert years including fascinating opening chapters on The Who’s first concerts in San Francisco, interviews with a variety of local people, including bystanders roped in to help lug equipment in return for tickets, local DJs, the support bands, kids who worked for Bill Graham plus various heads and groovers. One whole section is devoted to Pete Townshend’s recent awakening to the teachings of Meher Baba, his meeting with Rick Chapman of Meher Baba Information centre in Berkeley and his subsequent rejection of drugs (although Chapman did introduce Pete to the sweet-smelling beedies that became such a part of Pete’s life in the following years).

Genzolini’s research leads him to scores of never-before-seen photographs by both professional photographers and by concert-going fans and he had the bright idea of including not just the best shots from a roll of film, but every single frame on that roll. So what you get to see are the good, the bad, the out-of-focus and the occasional downright ugly. But what you get in return is a real sense of ‘being there’. Look at the pictures and you’ll get it. These are sections in the book that are labelled as ‘stories in pictures’ –  pages of on-stage antics, dressing room shots, tight close-ups of John and Keith, Pete in his frilly shirts and sparkly frock coat, Roger playing to the audience, to the front row girls, and in one instance, Pete finally having enough of a fan who was taunting him and trying to grab Roger’s ankles, and so he lands his guitar full-square on the fan’s knuckles as he dares to place his hands on the stage one more time.

This book is not for the casual Who fan, the fan who perhaps bought Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy back in ’71 and nothing since. But if you’re a true Who fanatic and you really want to get a good and honest idea of what it was actually like to have been there, back then, at Winterland, in 1968 and 1976, in the first few rows, in the dressing rooms, hanging out with the band, hanging out at the stage door, seeing the original fearless foursome of Roger, Pete, John and Keith at their zenith then TEENAGE WASTELAND: The Who at Winterland, 1968 and 1976 is most definitely for you.

Go out and buy it.

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

28 February 2024: US. Purchase from Amazon US
28 April 2024: UK. Pre-0rder from Amazon UK

2 thoughts on “Teenage Wasteland: The Who at Winterland, 1968 and 1976”

  1. Korbean lucien mathers says:

    I’m a black parka Mod and have been since the late 80s my scooter was a Vespa 185 cut down at the end of me use of it , it was a dangerous heap of junk with pushbike lights. I’ve still got it in my warehouse owned by my dad 👋 👋 👋 spacemen3 Scot

  2. Robert says:

    I was one of the lucky lottery ticket winners for the first Saturday night show. We arrived really early and had to sit on the cement floor for hours, But it was worth it when The Who came on and we were 10 feet from the stage. Fantastic show one of my top 5 concerts of all time. I wish I could see the video ( if there is one out there ) I think the ticket price was $ 20.00 and .50 service charge. I just U2 at the sphere they service charge for 1 ticket was more than 2 tickets for The Who…

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