September 21, 2020

’69 New Music Express article previewing Tommy

Pete discusses the forthcoming "Deaf, Dumb And Blind Boy" LP.

Who-baiters of the world unite! Another opportunity for you to knock, attack and cudgel the group you love to hate is about to present itself upon the scene -in the form of ‘Deaf, Dumb And Blind Boy’.

The aforementioned handicapped youth is the central figure in The Who’s new double album, which is due for release shortly. A single, ‘Pinball Wizard’, has been taken from it and enters the chart this week at Number 26.

Pete Townshend came along to a West End restaurant to explain seriously the story behind the album and maybe ward off some of the criticism that is bound to come.

"There’s already been a reaction in America and they haven’t even heard it yet!" he began. "I expect some controversy but I don’t want it to get out of hand.

"I’ve been thinking about it for ages. I’ve had a number of ideas to write a sort of pop opera.

"It puts across a number of values…gives a modern idea of what good and bad is. A simple feeling of spiritual development in day-to-day living.

"To use a normal guy wouldn’t have been unusual enough for mystery. The deaf, dumb and blind boy can feel jolts and bumps and things which can be translated into music.

"He isn’t born like it, it’s a block instilled by his parents. He sees his dad murder his mother’s lover and they tell him he hasn’t seen anything or heard anything.

"Gradually, he loses his senses because of the pressures put on him, and the album goes into his musical experiences. He spends all day in the arcades and becomes a pinball champion, playing by feel.

"A doctor starts to remove the block with a strange technique. The boy has to look at his own reflection and in the end that’s all he sees.

"He isn’t affected by anything around him and he becomes a sort of pop hero and in the end becomes what all boys would like to be.

"He opens a holiday camp and the whole thing develops into a religion almost. But it all becomes a bit nasty."

Pete says the LP can be taken as one of three things -a spiritual symbol, the life of a pop star or a rock’n’roll album.

"It adds a new facet to what can be done in pop music," he pointed out. "It’s some of the best stuff I’ve ever written, equal to ‘My Generation’. I never set out to write anything as good as that, but it just happened.

"It will take the place of the old act, but with no tricks or costumes or special lighting."

The Who don’t bother much about British tours, which is a pity for their fans who have remained loyal for years. Pete, however, has certain ideas on the subject.

"I see no reason why, if it’s really worked out, with the right towns and the right acts, a tour shouldn’t sellout," he commented.

"You could do it in an empty swimming pool and take away the preconception that the kids have about their local theatre. They don’t want to go through an entrance all lit up and under marble pillars to see a show."