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Primarily the brain child of guitarist Pete Townshend, the Who’s Tommy was perhaps the first grand rock-opera ever recorded. Tommy is a double-album about an abused and handicapped child who eventually regains his lost senses and becomes a prophet in a story that, as described the liner notes of its 1993 reissue, covers a spectrum of universal themes including, “murder, trauma, bullying, child molestation, sex, drugs illusion, delusion, altered consciousness, spiritual awakening, religion, charlatanism, success, superstardom, faith, betrayal, rejection, and [even] pinball.” In fact, after the lead single “Pinball Wizard” was released in the U.K. 34 years ago today on March 7, 1969, it quickly climbed to the Top 5 of the U.K. and U.S. charts, and remains one of the Who’s most recognizable songs. The album itself reached number 2 on the U.K. charts later that same year, and was followed by a North American tour in which the Who played Tommy in its entirety and performed at the legendary Woodstock music festival.
Since Tommy’s release it has been adapted into a movie, a Broadway play, and a ballet, gone on to sell over 20 million copies worldwide, and left many more influential rock operas in its wake, including Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and Green Day’s “American Idiot.” It was a major milestone that helped seal the Who’s status as one of the greatest bands in rock history.
Celebrate the Who’s Tommy with us today at 5PM at WERS!