Tommy (album)

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Studio album by The Who
Released 23 May 1969
Recorded 19 September 1968 – 7 March 1969, IBC Studios, London, England, United Kingdom
Genre Rock
Length 74:00
Language English
Label Track, Polydor, Decca
Producer Kit Lambert
Professional reviews
The Who chronology
Magic Bus: The Who on Tour
Live at Leeds
Singles from Tommy
  1. "Pinball Wizard"/"Dogs, Pt. 2"
    Released: 7 March 1969
  2. "Go to the Mirror!"/"Sally Simpson"
    Released: 23 May 1969
  3. "I'm Free""
    Released: 1969
  4. "Listening to You / See Me, Feel Me"/"Overture from Tommy""
    Released: September 1970

Tommy is the fourth album by the English rock band The Who, released by Track and Polydor in the United Kingdom and Decca and MCA in the United States. A double album telling a loose story about a "deaf, dumb, and blind boy" who becomes the leader of a messianic movement, Tommy was the first musical work to be billed overtly as a rock opera. Released in 1969, the album was mostly composed by guitarist Pete Townshend. In 1998 it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for "historical, artistic and significant" value.


[edit] Characters

  • Tommy: The main character of the story, from whom the album gets its name.
  • Father: Sometimes referred to as "Captain Walker", whose son is the album's protagonist.
  • Mother: Mrs Walker, Tommy's mother.
  • The Lover: A romantic partner of Tommy's mother.
  • Uncle Ernie: Tommy's 'wicked uncle', a paedophile. Becomes an aide to Tommy at the end of the story.
  • Cousin Kevin: Tommy's cousin, the sadistic school bully who brutalises Tommy when left at home with him.
  • The Hawker: A pimp for prostitute the Acid Queen, who peddles her services.
  • The Gypsy: A prostitute who deals in acid and exposes Tommy to the drug in an attempt to heal him.
  • The Local Lad: The reigning champion of the game of pinball, until Tommy beats him.
  • The Doctor: A doctor who attempts to heal Tommy and finds out that his disabilities are psychological rather than physical.

[edit] Synopsis

British Army Captain Walker is reported missing, and is believed dead. His widow, Mrs. Walker, gives birth to their son, Tommy. Years later, Captain Walker returns home and discovers that his wife has found a new lover. Captain Walker confronts the two, and the lover is subsequently killed in the struggle. To cover up the incident, Tommy's parents tell him that he didn't see or hear it, and that he will never tell anyone about the incident. Traumatised, Tommy subsequently becomes blind, deaf and mute. Now in a semi-catatonic state, Tommy's subconscious manifests as a figure dressed in silvery robes who guides him on a journey of enlightenment. Years pass, and Tommy becomes a young man, now interpreting physical sensations as music.

During Christmas, Tommy's parents worry that his soul is at risk of damnation, since he is unaware of Jesus or prayer. One day, Tommy is left alone with his cousin Kevin, who bullies and tortures him for his own amusement. A pimp referred to as "the Hawker" is introduced and peddles his prostitute's sexual prowess, reputed to heal the blind, the deaf and the mute. Tommy is ultimately taken to this woman, who calls herself the Acid Queen, and she tries to coax Tommy into full consciousness with hallucinogenic drugs and sex. When this does not work, Tommy's parents reluctantly leave him temporarily in the care of his Uncle Ernie, who is an alcoholic child molester. He takes this opportunity to abuse Tommy without fear of being caught. Eventually, Tommy is discovered to have a talent for pinball, and quickly defeats the local champion of the game.

Tommy's father finds a medical specialist in another attempt at 'curing' him. After numerous tests, the doctor informs Tommy's parents that his disabilities are psychosomatic, rather than physical. Meanwhile, Tommy is internally trying to reach out to them. His mother continues to try to reach him, and becomes frustrated that he ignores her while staring directly at a mirror, despite his apparent inability to see. Out of this frustration she smashes the mirror and brings Tommy back into reality. This "miracle cure" becomes a public sensation and Tommy attains a guru-like status. Thereafter he assumes a quasi-messianic mantle and attempts to enlighten those willing to follow him. During one of Tommy's sermons, a reverend's daughter, Sally Simpson, sneaks out of her home to meet with Tommy. As the police try to control the crowd, Sally is thrown from the stage and suffers a gash on her face. Tommy opens his own home to anyone willing to join him, and urges them to bring as many people with them as they can. When his house becomes too small to accommodate them, a camp is built with the intended purpose of spreading Tommy's teachings. Tommy's Uncle Ernie assists him at this camp, but uses it as an opportunity for profit and exploiting Tommy's disciples. Now with all necessary resources at his disposal, Tommy instructs his followers to blind, deafen and mute themselves in order to truly reach enlightenment. They eventually reject his methods and ideology after finding that his enlightenment is not reached by being cured, but by discovering a state of awareness while blind, deaf, and mute.

[edit] Analysis and history

Townshend's inspiration for the album came from the teachings of the Meher Baba and other writings and expressing the enlightenment he believed that he had received.[1] A year prior to the album's release, Pete Townshend had explained many of his ideas during a famous Rolling Stone interview.[citation needed] John Entwistle would later claim that he had never actually listened to the album, having become sick of it after numerous takes and re-takes.

When it was released, critics were split between those who thought the album was a masterpiece, the beginnings of a new genre, and those that felt it was exploitative. The album was banned by the BBC and certain US radio stations. Ultimately, the album became a commercial success, as did The Who's frequent live performances of the rock opera in the following years, elevating them to a new level of prestige and international stardom.[2] However, unlike later rock operas, the album was not accompanied by a live theatrical show, but simply a concert in which The Who performed all of the album's songs.

Although Tommy is usually described as a rock opera, author and Who historian Richard Barnes states that this definition is not strictly correct, since Tommy does not utilise the classic operatic formulae of staging, scenery, acting and recitative. According to Barnes, Tommy could be more accurately described as a "rock cantata" or a "rock song cycle". It most closely resembles an oratorio (e.g. Handel's "Messiah") in form, as it includes instrumental, choral and solo sections, with no dialogue between characters, and no sets, costumes or choreography. A counter-argument to Barnes would be that new operas are frequently performed without the first three features before a full mounting, similarly to Tommy, and some of its songs, such as "1921", "Christmas", "Do You Think It's All Right?" and "Go to the Mirror" have the qualities of recitative and dialogue, while it has subsequently been performed with choreography and costuming, including by the Seattle Opera in 1971 and by a Canadian ballet company (dancing to the album recording) shortly thereafter.[citation needed]

Musically, Tommy is a complex set of pop-rock arrangements, generally based upon Townshend's acoustic guitar and built up with many overdubs by the four members of the band using many instruments, including bass, electric and acoustic guitars, piano, organ, drum kit, gong, timpani, trumpet, French horn, three-part vocal harmonies and occasional doubling on vocal solos. Many of the instruments only appear intermittently—the 10-minute "Underture" features a single toot on the horn—and when overdubbed many of the instruments are mixed at low levels. Townshend mixes fingerpicking in with his trademark power chords and fat riffs. His later interest in synthesisers is foreshadowed by the use of taped sounds played in reverse to give a whistling, chirping sound on "Amazing Journey".

The tracks "Overture", "Pinball Wizard", "I'm Free", and the "See Me, Feel Me / Listening to You" reprise were released as singles and received airplay on the radio. "Pinball Wizard" reached the top 20 in the US and the top five in the UK, and was a hit for Elton John in 1975/76 (who played the part of the pinball champion in the film). "See Me, Feel Me / Listening To You" landed high in the top 20 in the US and "I'm Free" reached the top 40. The tracks "Overture", "Christmas", "I’m Free", and "See Me Feel Me" were released on an EP in late 1970. The "Overture" was also covered by a band called The Assembled Multitude and received a lot of airplay. Tommy was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.

Several structural precedents for Tommy exist in Townshend's work, including "Glow Girl" (1968), "Rael" (1967), and the sectional work "A Quick One While He's Away" (1966). In 2004, Uncut released a CD titled The Roots of Tommy containing music that they asserted influenced Tommy's creation. Among the included songs are the blues songs that Townshend included or attempted to, such as Mose Allison's "Young Man Blues" and Sonny Boy Williamson's "Eyesight to the Blind," as well as The Pretty Things' "S.F. Sorrow Is Born," material from Mark Wirtz's A Teenage Opera, and music by groups such as The Zombies, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Nirvana, The Kinks. Music hall comedian Max Miller is said to have influenced the character of Uncle Ernie.

[edit] Recognition

In 2003, the album was ranked number 96 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The album was ranked number 90 on VH1's 100 Greatest Albums of Rock & Roll and appears in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[3] NME named it the 16th on "NME Writers All Time Top 100" in 1974.[4] Q ranked it 9th on their list of "The Music That Changed The World: Part One 1954-1969" in 2004.[5]

[edit] Editions and cover art

Tommy was originally released as a two-LP set with a thin booklet of lyrics and artwork in a triptych-style fold-out cover. All three of the outer panels of the triptych are spanned by a single pop art painting by Mike McInnerney. The drawing is a sphere with diamond-shaped cutouts and an overlay of clouds and seagulls rendered with a figure-ground ambiguity similar to that in the work of M. C. Escher. To one side a star-spangled hand bursts from the dark background, index finger pointing forward. (The image above only shows the central panel of the triptych.) The label's executives insisted on having a picture of the band on the cover, so, small, barely recognisable images of the band members' faces were inserted into the gaps in the sphere, each with an outstretched hand like a groping Tommy Walker. (The most recent remastered CD release reverts to McInnerney's original artwork without the faces). The internal artwork consists of a photo of some jugglers/magicians and some very simple paintings that only hint at illustrating the story.

MCA re-released the album as a two-CD set in 1984. The CDs were in separate jewel cases and each had a miniaturised copy of the original artwork and lyrics in the insert, though it only included two panels of the triptych. Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab later published it on a single gold-plated Ultradisc in their Original Master Recording series, with a much improved reproduction of the artwork (including a fold-out of the full original cover), and with the substitution of an alternate take on "Eyesight to the Blind". MCA released a newly remixed version on a single disc in 1996, complete with good artwork and a written introduction by Richard Barnes. This version included instrumental parts that were not present on any earlier version, particularly noticeable in the cymbals of "The Acid Queen".

Tommy is available as a deluxe two-disc hybrid SACD with a 5.1 multi-channel mix. This was done utilising master tapes that were thought long lost. When Tommy was first released, a "sweetened" master tape was used incorporating echo effects and doubling the vocal harmonies. This bare-bones master is said to have a more warm and natural sound to give a more "live" feel. Many critics have hailed this release to be the more definitive edition. The remastering was done under the supervision of Townshend and also includes some outtakes and other cuts during the same sessions. One cut called "Dogs-Part 2" that was only previously available as the B-side of the "Pinball Wizard" single and on the 1987 collection Two's Missing is included.

[edit] Track listing

All songs were written by Pete Townshend except where noted.

Side one
  1. "Overture" – 3:50
  2. "It's a Boy" – 2:07
  3. "1921" – 3:14
  4. "Amazing Journey" – 3:25
  5. "Sparks" – 3:45
  6. "The Hawker" (Williamson) – 2:15
Side two
  1. "Christmas" – 5:30
  2. "Cousin Kevin" (Entwistle) – 4:03
  3. "The Acid Queen" – 3:31
  4. "Underture" – 9:55
Side three
  1. "Do You Think It's Alright?" – 0:24
  2. "Fiddle About" (Entwistle) – 1:26
  3. "Pinball Wizard" – 3:50
  4. "There's a Doctor" – 0:25
  5. "Go to the Mirror!" – 3:50
  6. "Tommy Can You Hear Me?" – 1:35
  7. "Smash the Mirror" – 1:20
  8. "Sensation" – 2:32
Side four
  1. "Miracle Cure" – 0:10
  2. "Sally Simpson" – 4:10
  3. "I'm Free" – 2:40
  4. "Welcome" – 4:30
  5. "Tommy's Holiday Camp" (Moon) – 0:57
  6. "We're Not Gonna Take It!" – 6:45

Tracks that appear on box set "Maximum R & B":

Overture ; The Acid Queen ; Pinball Wizard ; I'm Free Live recording of "Sparks" (mistitled "Underture") from Woodstock 1969 Festival Live recording of "See Me, Feel Me" from "Live At Leeds" concert in 1970

[edit] Deluxe edition

In 2003, Tommy was released as a deluxe edition on a Hybrid SACD and DVD-Audio. The two formats featured the original album remixed into 5.1 surround sound and both featured a bonus disc of "out-takes and demos". The DVD-Audio edition also includes a bonus video interview with Pete Townshend plus a demonstration of his remixing the original recording into 5.1 sound.

Bonus disc

The first twelve tracks are out-takes and demos and the last five are stereo-only demos.

  1. "I Was" – 0:17
  2. "Christmas" (out-take 3) – 4:43
  3. "Cousin Kevin Model Child" – 1:25
  4. "Young Man Blues" (Version one) (Allison) – 2:51
  5. "Tommy, Can You Hear Me?" (alternate version) – 1:59
  6. "Trying to Get Through" – 2:51
  7. "Sally Simpson" (out-take) – 4:09
  8. "Miss Simpson" – 4:18
  9. "Welcome" (Take two) – 3:44
  10. "Tommy's Holiday Camp" (band's version) – 1:07
  11. "We're Not Gonna Take It" (alternate version) – 6:08
  12. "Dogs (Part Two)" (Moon) – 2:26
  13. "It's a Boy" – 0:43
  14. "Amazing Journey" – 3:41
  15. "Christmas" – 1:55
  16. "Do You Think It's Alright" – 0:28
  17. "Pinball Wizard" – 3:46

[edit] Live recordings

While The Who regularly played Tommy live at the time of its release, they rarely, if ever, played it in the form in which it was released. They instead decided to change the running order and omit some tracks entirely. Four tracks that were never performed during The Who's initial tour were "Cousin Kevin", "Underture", "Sensation" and "Welcome".

A live recording of Tommy in this altered state is available on the 2001 Deluxe Edition of the 1970 live album Live at Leeds. It is also available on the official release Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 from the same period, which was released in 1996.

The Who also performed Tommy for its 20th anniversary during their 1989 reunion tour, reinstating the previously overlooked "Cousin Kevin" and "Sensation" but still omitting "Underture" and "Welcome". Recordings from this tour can be found on the Join Together live album and the Tommy and Quadrophenia Live with Special Guests DVD. The Los Angeles version of this show featured special guests such as Phil Collins (Uncle Ernie), Patti LaBelle (Acid Queen), Steve Winwood (Hawker), Elton John (Pinball Wizard) and Billy Idol (Cousin Kevin).

[edit] Other incarnations

[edit] 1971 Seattle Opera production

In 1971, the Seattle Opera under director Richard Pearlman produced the first ever fully staged professional production of Tommy. The production included Bette Midler playing the role of the Acid Queen.[6]

[edit] 1972 orchestral version

On 9 December 1972 entrepreneur Lou Reizner presented a concert version of Tommy at the Rainbow Theatre, London. There were two performances that took place on the same evening. The concerts featured The Who, plus an all-star guest cast, backed by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Measham. The concerts were held to promote the release of Reizner's new studio recording of this "symphonic" version of Tommy.

Both in concert and on record, major singing roles were performed by leading pop and rock stars of the day -- Maggie Bell, Sandy Denny, Steve Winwood, Rod Stewart, Richie Havens and Ringo Starr. Pete Townshend also plays a bit of guitar, but otherwise the music is predominantly orchestral. Richard Harris sang-talked the role of the specialist on the record, but was replaced by Peter Sellers for the stage production. The stage production was repeated with a substantially different cast including David Essex, Elkie Brooks, Marsha Hunt, Vivian Stanshall, Roy Wood and Jon Pertwee on 13 and 14 December 1973.

The studio version of the orchestral Tommy was issued in a lavish boxed-set format, featuring original artwork and photography, which used a pinball as its main motif. The packaging, designed by Tom Wilkes and Craig Braun, won the Best Album Package Grammy in 1974.

The orchestral version was also performed twice in Australia in March and April 1973, to thousands at open air venues (Melbourne's Myer Music Bowl and Sydney's Randwick Racecourse). Keith Moon appeared as "Uncle Ernie" (in Melbourne only), Graham Bell as The Narrator, with local stars Daryl Braithwaite (as Tommy), Billy Thorpe, Doug Parkinson, Wendy Saddington, Jim Keays, Broderick Smith, Colleen Hewett, Linda George, Ross Wilson, Bobby Bright, Ian Meldrum (as "Uncle Ernie" in Sydney), and a full orchestra.[7] The Melbourne concert was videotaped, then televised by Channel 7 on 13 April 1973.

Bootleg issues of the 1973 London concert performances (which were recorded by Capitol Radio) have also been released although these are often credited as being from 1972.

[edit] 1975 film

In 1975 Tommy was adapted as a film, produced by expatriate Australian entrepreneur Robert Stigwood and directed by maverick British auteur Ken Russell. The movie version starred Daltrey as Tommy, and featured other members of The Who plus an eclectic supporting cast including Hollywood legend Ann-Margret as Tommy's mother, Oliver Reed as the boyfriend, with cameo appearances by Elton John, Tina Turner, Eric Clapton, Arthur Brown and Jack Nicholson.

Tommy was one of the first music films released with a multichannel hi-fi soundtrack and many major cinemas, billing it as "quintaphonic sound", placed high-powered concert-style speaker banks in the four quadrants of the house and directly behind the center of the screen, reflecting the locations of the vocalists onscreen. The hyper-realistic effect, compared to standard stereo separation, matched the visual excess associated with Ken Russell's work.

The film received mixed reviews but was a huge commercial success on release and has achieved cult film status due to scenes such as Arthur Brown's brief appearance as a communion-giving priest in The Marilyn Monroe-worshipping cult, Ann-Margret's desperate frolic in a pool of beans (a reference to the cover of The Who's 1967 LP Sell Out) and the sharp satire on pop music groupies presented by the "Sally Simpson" scene. Other highlights included Elton John's memorable appearance (sporting metre-high Doctor Marten boots) as the "Pinball Wizard" and Tina Turner's electrifying performance as "The Gypsy."

Townshend reworked the storyline extensively for the film, fleshing out much that was obscure in the original version, and moving the time-frame forward to a more believable era, the period following World War II. This also (somewhat) cured the anachronism arising from Sally Simpson's marriage to a rock musician from California after her ejection from Tommy's sermon. Since no such musicians existed until the 1960s, Sally would have had a 30+ year wait and would have been in her 50s by then.

The film version also reversed a crucial plot point: in the film, Tommy's father is murdered by his mother's lover, rather than the lover being killed by the returning Capt. Walker, as in the original storyline. The result can be seen as lending an incestuous charge to the mother/son relationship as Tommy's mother sees her former husband within her son.

Townshend also oversaw the production of a new double-LP recording that returned the music to its rock roots, and on which the unrecorded orchestral arrangements he had envisaged for the original Tommy LP were realised by the extensive use of synthesiser. The soundtrack LP also employed many leading sessions musicians including Caleb Quaye and longtime Who associate John "Rabbit" Bundrick. Due to Keith Moon's commitments with the filming of Stardust, Kenney Jones played drums on most of the album. The song "Pinball Wizard" was a major hit when released as a single.

The film depicts Elton being backed by The Who (dressed in pound-note suits). Curiously, although the music for this song is performed entirely by Elton John and his band on the soundtrack album, Townshend, Moon and Entwistle perform live along with the Elton John Band backing track in the film sequence. Most of the extras were students at Portsmouth Polytechnic and were paid with tickets to a Who concert after filming had finished. Ken Russell included the shots he took of the South Parade Pier at Southsea, which burned down while the crew were in town.

[edit] 1978 stage version (Queens Theatre - Hornchurch)

26 April – 20 May 1978 - Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch

Devised and Directed: Paul Tomlinson and John Hole, Musical Director: Lorelei Lynn, Designer: David Knapman, Costumes: Jill Pennington, Lighting: Stanley Osborne White, Sound Designer: Malcolm Blackmoor


The Mother and The Acid Queen: Dana Gillespie, The Father and The Pinball Wizard: David Burt, The Lover: Richard Barnes, The Narrator: Paul Da Vinci, The Nurse and others: Francesca Lucy, Uncle Ernie and The Doctor: John Muirhead, Cousin Kevin: Kevin Williams, Tommy: Allan Love, Sally Simpson and others: Claire Lewis, Mrs Simpson and others: Vivien Stokes, Young Tommy: Daniel Dobson, Young Cousin Kevin: Philip Carvosso,

The Band

Paul Herbert: Keyboards, Horn Percussion, Jim Kelly: Lead Guitar, Rob Huckfield: Rhythm Guitar, John Newman: Bass, John Barber: Drums, Glyn Mathews: Percussion,

The Choir

Caroline Acott, Susan Allbon, Denise Alonzo, Sally Bailey, Martin Barnbrook, Geraldine Biggins, Margaret Biggins, Pauline Biggins, Stephen Birnie, Caroline Brown, Sue Butler, Philip Carvosso, Elizabeth Clarke, Deborah Dobson, Alain Dumont, Sarah Dun, Wendy Garnham, Paul Gilbert, Laura Jane Girling, Sharon Green, Sonje Green, Guy Gower, Sue Hennessey, Nicholas Howell, Nicola Howlett, Debbie Jacobs, Cathy Jones, Steve Keogh, Helen Leversedge, Chris Maynard, Caroline Obee, Linda Reitsis, Gregory Simpson, Gary Smith, Jacquie Sullivan, Yvette Tinworth, Gillian Turner, Ian Turner, Toni Webber, Diane Wrenn

[edit] 1979 stage version (Queens Theatre - Shaftesbury Avenue)

Opened 6th Feb 1979 - Queen's Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue

Devised and Directed: Paul Tomlinson and John Hole, Musical Director: Simon Webb (composer), Designer: David Knapman, Costumes: Harry Waistnage, Lighting: Stanley Osborne White, Choreography: Tudor Davies, Executive Producer: Peter Sibley, Producers: The Who, Back Stage Productions, Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch


The Mother and The Acid Queen: Anna Nicholas, Mr Simpson: Eric Danot, Pinball Wizard and The Father: Colin Copperfield, The Lover: Steve Devereaux, The Narrator: Peter Straker, The Nurse: Sue Bond, Uncle Ernie : Bob Grant (actor), Cousin Kevin: Kevin Williams, Tommy: Allan Love, Mrs Simpson: Vivien Stokes, Sally Simpson: Lorelei Lynn

(live recording by EMI but not released)

[edit] 1993 stage version

In 1993, Townshend and La Jolla Playhouse theatrical director Des McAnuff wrote and produced a Broadway musical adaptation of Tommy. The production, titled The Who's Tommy, featured a new song by Townshend ("I Believe My Own Eyes"), several rewrites in lyrics, and an all-star cast. Initially, the show received mixed reviews; for example, while The New York Times theatre critic Frank Rich praised it, [8] the same paper's music critic Jon Pareles argued that "Their (Townshend's and McAnuff's) changes turn a blast of spiritual yearning, confusion and rebellion into a pat on the head for nesters and couch potatoes".[9] Later, Townshend partly responded to the criticisms.[10] Ultimately, the production won five Tony Awards that year, including Best Original Score for Townshend. Various touring revivals have met with popular acclaim since.

The musical version reorganises the numbers and changes many lyrics. The setting is in post-World War II Britain, as in the film version. Nevertheless, unlike the film, the lyrics "Got a feelin '21 is gonna be a good year" remain the same, though now referring to Mrs. Walker's birthday. Also, Captain Walker kills the lover, as in the original album and unlike the film, where the lover kills Captain Walker and takes his place. Perhaps the most striking change vis-a-vis previous versions is that after the "Sally Simpson" scene, Tommy renounces his messianic role and returns to his family, embracing and praising the kind of "normality" that everybody else has and that he has been deprived of (significantly, the new version introduced lines such as "freedom lies here in normality" and excluded the earlier versions' "Hey, old hung-up Mr. Normal, don't try to gain my trust").

[edit] 2008 Dutch version by Di-rect

In 2008-2009 the Dutch rock band Di-rect toured theatres with the translated version of the rock opera.[11] The lyrics were translated by Jan Rot. The tour named "Di-rect doet Tommy" (Di-rect does Tommy) premiered 16 November 2008 in Rotterdam. While initially skeptical, the press reviews are very positive citing "Di-rect brings Tommy back to life"[12] and "Dutch lyrics perfect match".[13] Especially guitar player Spike van Soest and drummer Jamie Westland are praised for their performance.

[edit] Further information

  • "Tommy's Holiday Camp" was credited to being written by Keith Moon on the album. Pete Townshend originally wrote it, but credited it to Moon because he had the idea that Tommy's spiritual center would be a holiday camp on the British Isles. In the film version, the gates of the camp were filmed at Fort Purbrook, one of "Palmerston's Follies" situated on top of Portsdown Hill, just to the North of Portsmouth. Today it is the Peter Ashley Activity Centre.
  • The song "Sally Simpson", in which the song's title character is injured as a result of a fracas while trying to touch Tommy, was inspired by a real-life incident. The Who were performing a concert with The Doors at the Singer Bowl (now Louis Armstrong Stadium) in New York in August 1968, and the Doors' security violently threw a young girl who was trying to touch Jim Morrison off the stage. This action was witnessed by Pete Townshend from the backstage area, and he was so shocked by what he had seen, he incorporated the incident into the opera he was writing.
  • The original album was dedicated to Meher Baba. (He is listed as "Avatar" in the album credits.)
  • Songs written for Tommy that didn't end up on the record include "Beat Up," "Trying To Get Through," "Dream (School Song)," "Dream (Erotic)," and "Cousin Kevin Model Child." "Water," a track best known as a minor part of the later unfinished Lifehouse album, has often been linked with Tommy as well.
  • The climax of Tommy was said by many to be the highlight of the 1969 Woodstock Festival. As Roger Daltrey began to sing "See Me, Feel Me", the sun began to rise, as if on cue. John Entwistle, the bass player, later joked that "God was our lighting man." The moment is captured on film in The Kids Are Alright and Woodstock. It is said that this moment helped with Tommy's popularity in the United States.
  • The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ran an exhibit on Tommy called "Tommy: The Amazing Journey" in 2005–2006.

[edit] Sales chart performance

Year Chart Position
1969 Billboard Pop Albums 4[14]
1969 UK Chart Albums 2[15]
Year Single Chart Position
1969 "Pinball Wizard" Billboard Pop Singles 19[citation needed]
1969 "Pinball Wizard" UK Singles Charts 4[15]
1969 "I'm Free" Billboard Pop Singles 37[citation needed]
1970 "See Me, Feel Me" Billboard Pop Singles 12[citation needed]

[edit] Sales certifications

Organization Level Date
RIAA – U.S. Gold 18 August 1969[16]
RIAA – U.S. Platinum 8 February 1993[16]
RIAA – U.S. 2x Platinum 8 February 1993[16]

According to an article published in 'The Daily Telegraph' in 2006, the album Tommy has sold 20 million copies world wide.[17]

[edit] Personnel

The Who
Additional musicians

[edit] References

[edit] External links

A number of interviews where Pete Townshend has commented on the concept and meaning of Tommy: