Three years after Keith Moon had passed away, Pete must have been regretting they ever carried on. His attitude had changed for sure, as he began pumping out solo releases which in hindsight were to be the place to turn to if you were looking for The Who’s zest. Because The “New” Who on record and The “New” Who on stage were completely different entities.
Live, Kenny had to replicate Keith’s arrangements, and he was quite capable of doing that (they never, ever did “Happy Jack” with Kenny, though). As a studio drummer, it was a different story. He could drum excitingly enough for any band (“You Better You Bet” and “Daily Records” are clear examples), but nobody could ever hold a torch to Keith’s inventive performances in the studio. That wasn’t Kenny’s fault, certainly. And to be fair, Keith could never have played military drums like the former Small Faces drummer did on “Cry If You Want”. But he was under so much pressure and attention that it must have been unbearable. And Roger was hostile to him from day one.
For his part, John had lost the touch he had at writing songs and tried to make up for it by playing heinously loud. His songs still were good from a technical point of view. But once you know that somebody can deliver so much in terms of content, and something that is memorable to boot then you are going to demand that from him.
The Who, then, was in a complete state of disrepair. Pete was to eventually buy both him and Kenny off the record contract they had signed just a couple of years back and carve ahead. But before that they were to release a final studio album, a live record that must rank as one of the most panned discs they ever issued, and undertake a lengthy farewell tour that also came under scrutiny for the conditions they played in. Remember, little more than a couple of years back eleven fans had died at one of their concerts.
What a horrifying moment it must have been for everybody. Pete, as the true idealist of the band was to dramatically OD at a club in London – his heart actually stopped for a short while. He lived to tell the tale miraculously. John and Roger must have felt a terrible void – they were missing more than their drummer onstage, they were missing the vital beat in their hearts. And Kenny was always compared to someone who was incomparable.
Their final studio album showcases this tension, and the lines are drawn between “reality” and “ideals” in terms that end up resembling “business” and “entertainment”. It is a no-win situation. The album was called “It’s Hard”, and just a mere look at Pete’s expression makes it clear how thrilled he was being photographed with the other guys…
Continue to Part 2