May 17, 2015
I am hours away from striking an item off of my Bucket List that has been clanging around in there for many years. I am taking my family to see The Who on their “The Who Hits 50!” Tour!
My love for this band started very early. I already had a musical foundation courtesy of my Mom’s record collection. The Beatles, early Elvis 45s, Simon & Garfunkel, and The Incredible Jimmy Smith were all covered. Then I discovered what my Uncle was listening to. I spent many Saturday afternoons with his high tech stereo and headphones. He didn’t have many records, but what he did have was enough to set me on my way. I discovered Tom Petty, George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers, ZZ Top, the comedy of Steve Martin, and The Who. The soundtrack to “The Kids are Alright” was the first album that I purchased with my own money. It was the perfect primer for a young fan. It provided the hit songs that I was used to hearing on the radio, but it also had some tracks that were totally new to me. I had to learn more. I decided to begin at the beginning. I picked up a copy of “My Generation” from 1965. This sounded nothing like the mid 70’s Who that I was used to! The energy pouring out of the speakers was like nothing that I ever heard before. I could tell that their roots were based in American R & B, but there was also something more. The “Maximum R & B” poster on my wall was finally making sense. The pieces were coming together. I made multiple trips back to the record store and filled in all of the blanks in my collection.
The early 80’s brought us two new albums. “Face Dances” and “It’s Hard” featured Kenny Jones on the drums. I had been a fan of his since his tenure with The Faces. He wasn’t “Moon the Loon” (who was?), but he was just what the band needed at that time. They hit the road in 1982 for what was being billed as their Farewell Tour. It wrapped up on December 17 1982 in Toronto. That date has special significance in my life for a number of reasons. That was the day that my Grandfather took me to Hawk Music in the Westgate Mall to buy me my first amp. It was a Crate CR IIR in a wood cabinet. I still use it to this day, much to the chagrin of my good friend Matt Syverson (J). There was a big 8th grade school dance that night. I went, but had to leave early because the local rock radio station was broadcasting The Who’s final show. I was in front of my boombox that night at 8:30 pm and taped every minute. I played it very often in the years that followed; so much so that you could practically see through it.
That farewell was short lived. The Who has hit the road many times since that night, but I was never able to go. All of that is about to change. The years of waiting are over. The passage of time has thrown a few curves at us: Roger’s voice understandably needs more rest to ensure that he can make the next town, Pete’s recent interviews indicate that the music doesn’t move him like it used to, The Ox is gone, and Keith is away from us longer than he was here. None of that matters to me. I am taking my family to a celebration of 50 years of The Who…Ups, downs, and everything in between. Their songs taught a young Matt Kacar the meaning of teen angst and how to work through it. Looking back, I am happy that my “Hope I Die before I get Old” badge that I wore in high school didn’t come true.
Watch this space for my review of the show, and tell me about your Who memories in the Comments section!
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