From a historical perspective, “Tommy” may be the single most well known album/project ever created by the Who, which says a lot for a band that created a large number of hugely successful projects. As such, it is very easy to take the album’s success for granted, but that would be historical revisionism.
It is important to keep in mind that before this album’s release and subsequent success, the future of The Who was anything but certain. Up to this point, they were primarily a singles band that had run out of singles. Their more recent releases performed poorly, and the road ahead looked quite bleak for the band. To think that an opera with a convoluted, sketchy storyline that stretched out over two albums would salvage the band must have seemed borderline ludicrous, but Pete Townshend, manager Kit Lambert and the other bandmembers moved forward without questioning Townshend’s vision, or his inspiration. If this preposterously bold project failed to sell, it almost certainly would have meant the end of The Who, but as we know, fate was kind and the album remains a classic rock perennial.
This episode of American Hit Radio features the first half of this deliriously ambitious project.
It’s a Boy
The Acid Queen
Do You Think It’s Alright?