Thursday, September 17, 2015

This Day In Pop Culture, September 16

The Who blow up the Smothers Brothers Show

Here's one just for fun today, kats and kittens. Today in 1967, The Who blew up the Smothers Brothers Show.

The band had just introduced themselves to a US audience with their then unique combination of sonic and set demolition at the Monterey Pop Festival exactly two months earlier. At that show, The Who drummer, Keith Moon put a small charge of black powder in his base drum which he detonated as part of the finale. And in Moon's mind, if one charge was fun, more charges would be more fun.

Without telling his bandmates or anyone associated with the show, Moon placed several charges in his drum kit to detonate as a dramatic punctuation to their perfomance of My Generation. The exact number of charges is the stuff of rock & roll mythology. Some say there were three charges in the kit that night, others say ten. While ten charges of black powder sounds like something no sane person would consider, remember, we are talking about Keith Moon.

So watch the two-minute clip for yourself below. It begins with a cheeky exchange between Moon and Tommy Smothers, who is trying to introduce the band. After a few bars, the video cuts to the end of the song. The explosion roars past Roger Daltrey, who was standing in front of the drum kit. Watch for Pete Townsend returning into the right edge of the frame, his singed hair pointing straight up. And keep an eye out for John Entwistle, who is unmoved and unshaken by the whole affair. Maybe this is another reason he earned the nickname, the "Ox".

If you have nine minutes to spare, I recommend the full clip of their set here. In addtion to the entire performance of My Generation, you'll be treated to their opening number, I Can See For Miles. You'll also hear more banter between the band and Tommy Smothers. Best of all, you'll see Moon lying on the stage, inspecting his arm which had been cut by a flying cymbol. If you just want to see the chaos, jump to the 7:10 mark in the video.


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