When Pete Townshend conceived the idea of a story about a deaf, dumb and blind boy who becomes a pinball champion, he never thought of how many doors he was opening. Released in March 1969, Tommy quickly became a commercial hit and is still today one of the greatest rock albums.
If you are a Who fan, you probably know the story pretty well. Each song, in a chronological order, tells the story of Tommy’s life, since his birth to his tremendous final. The album is not only a mere collection of songs. It is not even a conceptual album; it is a rock opera, and its success changed The Who’s career for ever.
Before Tommy’s release, the band was going through a complicated period. Besides the usual arguments and fights between Pete, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle and Keith Moon, “Magic Bus” and their last singles were not as successful as their first ones, and that made Pete felt very disappointed. But luck changed when Tommy and its hit single “Pinball Wizard” took them once again to the top of the charts and gave The Who the chance to tour all over America and the UK.
After the initial happiness, The Who turned a bit reluctant to play Tommy. The album had become more important than the band. As Pete once said, “some people thought the band was called Tommy.” Fortunately, forthcoming albums by The Who proved to be almost as successful as Tommy. Live At Leeds (1970), Who’s Next (1971) and Quadrophenia (1973) were also great and were very important to renew The Who’s status as one of the greatest bands ever.
However, interesting projects renewed Pete’s interest in Tommy. To begin with, in 1972, a concert version was presented at the Rainbow Theatre, in London. Three years later, in 1975, Tommy was taken to the big screen, with Roger, in his acting debut, as the deaf, dumb and blind boy. Directed by Ken Russell, the movie was also a great success and Roger’s interpretation of Tommy was highly praised by the critics. The songs were recorded once again for the soundtrack of the movie, with an extensive use of the synthesiser and guest musicians such as Tina Turner, Eric Clapton and Elton John.
But that wasn’t the last reincarnation. In 1993, Tommy mutated again and became a theatre musical. Pete Townshend and La Jolla Playhouse theatrical director Des McAnuff wrote and produced a Broadway musical adaptation with several rewrites in lyrics and an all-star cast. The production won five Tony Awards that year, including Best Original Score for Townshend.
We hope that you liked our new Tommy T-shirt available at our website. And, according to Tommy’s historical mutations, we encourage you to send us ideas for new T-shirts dedicated to this great rock masterpiece, so that we can think of new forthcoming models. Thank you!