1978 Who Expo Retrospective
Who Exhibition 1978 Online Retrospective
By Irish Jack
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NEARLY ALL OF US knows a special song or piece of music that can transport us back to a particular time or place. We nearly all have more than just one song that can do that, but each song travelling on good wheels or flapping wings can take us to that particular point in time. They never let us down. And the trip is usually worth the journey. There is a song in my heart that everytime I hear nowadays usually on the radio, it takes me there. As soon as I hear the opening bars of Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street I am back in Oxford Street and it’s 1978, the summer of London. That’s real Irish that; “as soon as I hear Baker Street I am back in Oxford Street !” And there’s more to come.
Hello to everyone out there, all you fantastic Who fans, many of you too bloody young to even remember 1978 and many of you crutched to the memory like it was only six months ago…30 years to be precise; and it came to pass that in August of 1978 three “young” – two young Who fans and myself organised an Exhibition at the prestigious Institute of Contemporary Art = I.C.A. (not Irish Countrywoman’s Association !).
I am grateful to Carrie Pratt of LLR and Rob Lee of TheWho.com who have both kindly agreed to mount this Retrospective on their websites, and in typical Irish fashion by the time it appears on the web site we’ll be almost into September while I continue to eulogise that unforgettable August thirty years ago. What immediately strikes me with alarming contrast to back then are of the work sheets that appear here not one bears a mobile phone number or an e mail address, in a strange way I find it refreshing as well as a stark reminder to the amount of man hours my other two protagonists Steve Margo and Peter Johns sweated and toiled, as well as the amazing office staff of the good ship Essex Music who at Pete Townshend’s behest oversaw the carry on and kept Margo, Johns and Jack in check..though we were sometimes capable of insurrection after two pints of bitter and a cheese roll across the road.
And so like Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street I wound my way down Oxford Street and took a right into Poland Street..poetic licence allows me to tell you that as I clipped my way along looking for Number 19.. I heard the sound of a heavenly saxophone played by a chap called Raphael Ravenscroft with a hook line you would kill for…and only the other day back in August 2008 (there was a mere 30 years between the sax hook and the first line of the song !) I heard Rafferty’s magic words coming from my radio…”He’s got this dream about buying some land, Gonna give up the guru and the one-night stands…” Well, Steve Margo had a dream about an exhibition and maybe we should start with him.
This letter from Steve Margo was the very beginning of the monster that became known as the Who’s Who Exhibition. Dated 6 February 1978, I was intrigued to read..
“Dear Irish Jack, I have been given your name and address by Pete Townsend in the hope that you can help me with some material for The Who Exhibition which I am putting on this summer in London……”
As I read the letter it occurred to me that for a man who wanted to mount a major exhibition on The Who somebody should suggest to him that Townsend had a ‘h’ in it ! I have met Steve Margo a few times down the yearssince and he has become a good friend. We always have a laugh about the misspelling of Pete’s surname.
This letter from Mafalda Hall of Essex Music telling me my flight times and God love us enclosing the princely sum of £ 10 spending money (a lot back in ”78) suggests to me the typical generosity I was to expect from the Essex crew. More later. A little previous to this letter was another letter from Steve Margo telling me The Who were going to play at Shepperton Studios on 25 May for Jeff Stein’s The Kids Are Alright. I went to it and that was the first time I met the Stein brothers, Jeff and Kevin. That too was the first time I met sleeve and programme designer Richard Evans. I have always loved his account of standing right in front of the stage and getting talking to some guy with an American girl called Chrissie, in my Concert File book Richard relates how the girl besides being a massive Who fan said she had just formed a band and had a record deal with Warner Bros. “What’s the name of your band?” Richard enquired innocently. “The Pretenders,” came the reply. Later I crawled around a pitch black studio aided by a commissionaire’s torch looking for my travel bag while Pete waited outside with his foot on the gas pedal. Little did I know it was to be Keith Moon’s last ever gig!
PS. I never did make the return journey to Cork, once landed in London the three days turned into 3 months!
Ah! Confirmation! In this letter Steve relates to Shepperton ‘and especially the unforgettable evening we spent together (????) WHAT did I do to deserve such plaudits? And then he wrote to Pete to tell him how we got on and sent him a cutting from New Musical Express with my letter about saving Eno’s life after a car accident and that is a whole other story.
‘Dobo’ (Dave Lewis) is the name of Steve Margo’s friend who rushes across the stage to hug Pete at the end of Won’t Get Fooled Again in The Kids Are Alright..he became a radio d.j. and he should be ashamed of himself because he turned out to be more of a Led Zeppelin fan than Who (unthinkable!) and later wrote a Led Zeppelin Concert File for Omnibus. Some magazines gave him a better review than mine and Joe McMichael’s book. The word traitor comes to mind. Readers will be very amused (but perhaps not surprised) to learn that there was no phone in the Lyons household in Cork and I would often nip next door to my neighbour (a wholly Irish trait, a bit like traveling by mule and taking two pairs of socks), if my neighbour was out I could be forced to walk a mile to the nearest phone up a country lane. And here on Page 3 Steve M. is telling me that Iain Quicke the art director will take a reverse charge call (from a country lane in Cork seven miles from Blarney) at his offices overlooking the posh Great Marlborough Street in Soho. And Steve will arrange a meeting with Pete for me to be housed in a room with phone and typewriter at Oceanic. How rare, and how wonderful!
A spoof Memorandum to all staff at Essex Music written up by publicist John Challis. It’s content speaks for itself. They were lovely fabulous people at Essex. On my first day there Simon Platz who didn’t really have an occupational job or desk at Essex but was a lovable soul who drove a second-hand ambulance as a sex wagon and answered any ringing phone, flaunted his dad’s cash for the benefit of all. Dad, of course, being David Platz head of Essex Music. Simon’s brother Paul Platz had a serious desk and on my very first day at Essex the two brothers and their dad brought me across the road to the pub for glasses of Brown ale and cheese rolls. I seemed to be carrying Who baggage with me and I sensed they liked me maybe because I was Irish or maybe because my reputation preceded me, I dunno. Also at Essex along with Mafalda Hall was Michael Roberts copyright manager, I seem to remember Sue who typed everything up, a young lad called Tim Nirons who worked as a messenger and Gerry Jones who briefed myself, Steve Margo and Pete Johns on our organisational duties as soon as we started. He spoke a bit like Kit Lambert and wore hair down to his collar. “What I want you to remember gentlemen is that this exhibition is not an opportunity to show off or accumulate kudos.” It was the first time I had heard the word and later alone in the lift consulted my traveling pocket dictionary. So that means, I thought to myself, under any circumstances don’t ring any of The Who from the office….I was probably the only one who had all four numbers in my small notebook !!!
A letter from my mother. Initially marked ‘Not Known Here’ by the reception commissionaire Joe at Essex Music. After some enquiries he discovered that it was for “the thin Irishman with the curly hair, one of the organisers of the Who” sic – thankfully he handed it to me as I left the building at 5.30. My mother wanted to remind me of the following…”It was very nice talking to you on the phone last night. If this letter arrives before Friday when you are ringing Maura don’t forget to tell her to tell the Labour Exchange that you got work in London…” (Before the exhibition and, like the ancient Cincinnatus, I was summoned from my plough*, I was signing on the dole and illegally cleaning windows on the side.) “Your driving licence must be renewed and your car insurance will be up soon. Jackie, you will be disappointed to hear that the brake cable has still not been touched, I am still waiting for the mechanic to call. Grandad is asking for you. Maura has my heart broken here wondering if her flight will be sorted out and will she have to collect her ticket from the airport? She thinks she’ll never get her feet on the plane and is under the impression Pete will meet her at the airport in a open sports car, she has high hopes. (Essex or Pete kindly flew my wife Maura over for the grand opening on August 1) “I asked Mrs. Healy across the road would she mind if you phoned there for me instead of Spitere’s Shop as the customers listen to everything on the phone. Ring Friday night if you get this in time.” Oh, the joys of owning your own phone. Imagine calling to a neighbour’s house and enquiring if you could possibly use their mobile???
*Cincinnatus was a Roman general who, according to legend, was summoned from his plough in 458BC to take charge of Rome.
The Who Kaleidoscope, a masterpiece in forward planning. As soon as I met Iain Quicke and his Group Five team round at 11 Great Marlborough Street just off Carnaby Street, I knew I was among professional people. They made coffee for me from a roaster and showed me some of their work..it was almost as if they were asking, ‘Are we good enough for you?’. They were a curly headed guy called Gerry, Annie Kelly who had a thing about Ireland and who was really lovely and helpful and Iain who struck me as someone who knew exactly what was going on. He was intense and bursting with ideas. We seemed to be talking the same language about the exhibition. As explained earlier, my flight back to Cork had gone and I was still in London, operating from a small windowless basement room deep in the bowels of Essex Music, as John Challis had accurately observed in his Memorandum. I should point out that by the first week Essex were giving me a weekly salary which I had to sign for. We’re talking about 30 years ago and Iain Quicke had ideas for the exhibition that would not be redundant today.
Among his original and innovative ideas was that visitors to the Exhibition would receive a red inked ‘Who’s Who’ stamp on the back of their hand like the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond did in the old days. Somebody objected, saying that not too many people would be leaving the building with the intention of returning thus rendering the idea of the stamp fairly pointless. I remember Iain slapping the conference table with the palm of his hand and saying, “But that’s the whole point. They probably won’t need to use it as a re-entry but they’ll have it on the back of their hand and probably won’t wash it off until they’ve shown it to their friends. They might even accidentally rub it on to someone’s tee-shirt on the Tube and they’ll be a mark. And that’s what we want…controversy. This is The Who for fuck’s sake !” I remember looking across the table at Iain Quicke and smiling to myself knowing we had the right man. Another idea was he actually wanted one member of the band to act as a dj and invite Who fans to either a Friday or Saturday night Who Disco Special to be held in the Who exhibit area. The Institute of Contemporary Art was run on quite strict guidelines by the Arts Council that obliged it to lock and bolt its hallowed portals at exactly 8pm (it was also closed to the public on Sundays and Monday), I seem to remember a tannoy system which bugged a lot of people and told them in polite tones that Starship Apollo was re-entering the earth’s atmosphere in 5 minutes. As for the Who Disco, one of the problems was trying to convince them that: “No, there’s not a single Who fan who would sue The Who if they got slightly intoxicated and fell three floors from the stairwell and sustained multi fractures and broken limbs..” The ICA’s response to this overture was to articulate a particular worry that said Who fan even if he or she didn’t happen to get intoxicated (now that I think about it the ICA didn’t have a bar..they do now) and fall three floors from a stairwell, might decide to hide in a secret chamber overnight and nick some of the very valuable and priceless exhibits. In the end the conclusion was that no member of The Who in their right mind would agree to dj’ing a special invite Who Disco (we were even going to call it ‘Who’s Sister Disco’) running from 6pm and closing at 8pm sharp. Imagine coming out of a Who Disco on to the Mall in broad daylight and the embers of a warm August evening still burning.. Just enough time to see the Changing of The Guard down at Buckingham Palace !
Ah I remember this very well. When I went to Essex originally for the planned 3 days I took with me a small portable typewriter. This was my travelling companion and very handy to use in my hotel, Room 41 Arden House Hotel in Victoria, I think it was an Olympic, a gift from Pete in 1976 after I got my marriage back together and he thought I should use what he claims are my “writing talents”. It came through the post with a playful letter that the electric one he had went out and bought me he was now using himself it was so good and in any case he was sure I’d be happy with the portable. I was. I typed up this letter for Roger along with many other letters to people thanking them on behalf of my overseers Essex Music on that little portable. A week before I went to Roger’s house in Burwash, I went up Portobello Market looking for anything unusual. I spied an enormous Union Jack flag on a wall. I asked the guy why a Union Jack would be so big (it was 13 feet by 6 feet) and he told me it was an Admiralty flag which size would allow it to be seen from a distance. He knew I wanted it – badly. He charged me something like £ 15 (he had wanted £ 20 which was outrageous) but he knew I was desperate for it. He wrapped it up and when the time came I took it down to Roger’s house. We unravelled the flag in his kitchen and I supplied him with felt pens and told him where to sign. The idea was each member of the band would sign their name along the white stretch of St. George and Roger’s was the first. I saw Simon Townshend on his knees signing a Union Jack on the floor at the Who Convention 2006 and it was like going back in time especially since Roger had been in the same building only hours earlier ! Getting back to 1978…the flag was hard work because the felt pen and the cloth didn’t agree with each other and it was impossible to actually signature it, also I was afraid the pen would ruin his floor so I got a newspaper and shifted it along as Roger added each letter..completists like Ron Dovey and Towser 1983 will be heart broken to learn that I can’t exactly remember what newspaper it was…anyway it was quite a job but we got there in the end. The Woodstock stage suit mentioned in the list borrowed from Roger…. I arrived back at Charing Cross station and met my brother Jim (he of the famous Oxford Traveller + a suitcase of smashed guitars circa Who Convention 2006 programme Page 18) we went into the station bar and had a few Brown ales. There must be something idyllic about my absent-minded brother Jim when it comes to suitcases; because there I am with a large suitcase and he wants to know what’s inside. When I tell him what it contains he is suitably gob-smacked (a brilliant description yet absolutely unheard of in ’78), he looked at me incredulously and said, “Jackie, are you out of your fucking mind? Do you mean to tell me you have Roger Daltrey’s Woodstock stage suit in that suitcase and it hasn’t occurred to you to go into the Gents over there (he pointed) and put the fucking thing on and we’ll go into a few pubs up in Soho and charge people to have their photo with you..( two things, reader, first I also had Roger’s jeans and shirt from Who’s Next and secondly..I was bereft of a camera..) Jim’s response was “We’ll get some Japanese guy and fucking tell him he’ll get a commission..what are you waiting for? Jesus, I can’t believe this ! ” Sadly my loyalty and morals in all things Who did not oblige me to stoop to such shameless huckstering. I forgave my brother his illogical enterprising mind and we talked about home, little did I realise I would upon Exhibition opening day soon become victim to his irrational mind set of what’s important, what might be important and what couldn’t possibly be important a la a suitcase of smashed guitars.
At any rate, for the next few days I prayed I would not receive a request from my brother Jim to borrow the suitcase for it typically to go missing..it was Roger’s you see and it had to go back. No, it wasn’t. It was Heather’s and it had to go back. Her maiden name is Taylor.
Daily Work Sheet, Monday 17 July 1978
At the top : here I am ringing Maura 6pm at Spittere’s shop around the corner from 60 Gillabbey Street. It seems so ancient a custom now that people used a shop phone and discussed their business whether there was 10 people in the shop or one. Somebody working in the shop would have had to nip around the corner and knock on the door to say there was a phone call for Maura, sometimes a customer might oblige. At the top : an interview with Roy Carr a writer with New Musical Express. At the bottom : Richard was Richard Dorse a horse of a man with a Pop Eye chest who “minded” Keith Moon. I was looking for Dougal Butler’s number. Peter Vernon-Kell is an old friend who sang with The Macabre the band who supported the Who every Friday in the Goldhawk Social Club. Anyone who has seen my web site www.thewho.net/irishjack will notice my Goldhawk Card membership number 332 1/2 (three three two and a half) the “half” is a play on words and tribute to Peter Vernon-Kell whose Goons sense of humour obliged him to answer the phone thus : “Acorn 741 and a half !” The old telephone prefix if you were living in Acton was ACO = Acorn. He would also pick up a ringing phone and answer by saying : “Merthyr Tydfil Tabernacle !”. Peter Vernon-Kell played with Dale Angelo & The Detours for a few weeks.
Daily Work Sheet, Friday 21 July
Top : Doreen Wood is Ronnie Wood’s sister (he of the long nose and Stones). They lived in Yiewsley near Heathrow Airport. Ronnie is an old friend from English band The Birds, they were managed by Bob Druce and played at the Goldhawk Club a lot and I went to a few parties the Birds had a habit of throwing. I used to bump into Ronnie and his old girl friend up at the Marquee when a band called Bluesology had a residency, Elton John was their keyboard player. I borrowed some posters belonging to Ronnie at his parent’s house for the Exhibition and invited his brother Arthur (he of The Artwoods) and family to the reception launch. Photographer Graham Hughes, Roger’s cousin, helped me out with some photos of his for exhibit. Bottom : Peter Campbell’s name will be recognised as being “John Entwistle” in The Miming Who which I founded. Carrie Pratt posted my story Do The Mime and images of footage from Amazing Journey a few months back and readers will identify the name Peter Campbell.
There was trouble over this press release. Mafalda Hall at Essex Music wrote up a presentable press release and showed it to Gerry Jones and Paul Platz, their response was nodding heads of agreement. The next day the three snotty-nosed urchins Messrs..Margo, Johns & Jack saw it and thought it was fabulous. For some unknown reason the Who’s press officer (Keith Altham) requested a peek before we issued it. It came back to the engine room at Essex with a few word changes as by way of “improving” the style and flow of the read. Poor Mafalda, I can still remember her Englishey-French expletives (a quite sexy voice actually) “Who the fuck does Keith Altham think he is?” which were bandied about the hot oven we operated out of for an office amid a thick smog of cigarette smoke , the heat on Oxford Street was unbelievable, and women in mini skirts – was it too early for Sloan Rangers? – women in mini skirts strode up and down Poland Street with legs up to their necks…Mafalda took a bit of calming down and I remember thinking to myself..”This is real, this is a Who Exhibition, it must be because I never imagined Mafalda, a beautiful soft spoken lady, spout so much venom towards our heretofore majestic and may I say, omniscient, Keith Altham.
Daily Work Sheet, Tuesday 25 July
I still haven’t phoned Maura at Spittere’s shop !! Eddie Rothkowitz, who was Jeff Stein’s associate producer on The Kids Are Alright wanted 2 invites to the exhibition launch. Jeff Stein and his brother wanted 2 each. He fucking owes me big time does Stein ! HA HA !
Midway : John Entwistle wanted invites for the entire family. Peter Chislett editor of ‘The News’ for the Portsmouth / Southsea area promised to run an advertisement to try and track down the girl who got hurt when Pete threw his guitar into the audience during the filming of Tommy. During the hunt for really original material I spent a day in Portsmouth searching at Portsmouth Polytech, the local hospital and the local newspaper in a vain attempt to try and find her. According to reports she was taken to the local hospital by ambulance but they couldn’t find the paper work for her.To this day she has remained one of life’s mysteries. She’d have made a great story for the papers if we had managed to find her. She was a student at the Polytech when the incident happened in 1974 but by ’78 had moved on. Bottom : Tommy Shelley was one of our Mod set at the old Goldhawk Club and helped me with research for my ghost scripts for Quadrophenia. Martin Gaish was, of course, “Roger Daltrey” in The Miming Who.
Daily Work Sheet, Wednesday 26 July
As arranged, I met Roger outside the Goldhawk Social Club at 12 noon. We were meeting up with some old Goldhawk Mods and photographer Bob Ellis. There that day were, Martin Gaish, Tommy Shelley, Ian Moody, Chris Covill who lived in the flat below mine at Kelmscott Gardens. I have several photos from that session one or two I have passed on to Roger. This one was taken by Bob Ellis at the entrance to the club.. Roger was absolutely delighted to be back at the Goldhawk after 12 years. He put twenty five pounds on the bar counter (a fortune back then) and told the girl to give him a shout when the money ran out. I took him away from the group for ten minutes and we went downstairs to the dance area. The old stage had been replaced by a podium and above it in typical working men’s club extant was a picture of Her Majesty on horseback. Roger, not a man to display too much emotion stood looking at the stage area and I noticed tears in his eyes. Neither of us spoke for a while. It was hard to believe that underneath that picture of the Queen was where all that Who mayhem happened. The Goldhawk dance floor was full of ghosts. I had to cancel Roy Carr from New musical Express because of the Goldhawk with Roger. John Blake of the Evening News ran the piece Time Off – Ad Lib already referred to in the visuals….
This was my official invite list to the opening reception. Unfortunately I have had to blot out the addresses to protect the innocent. On the right side of the sheet readers will see that each person invited received a free Who’s Who tee-shirt and the fantastic Chloe Cheese poster. As you can see I was in continuing touch with Jeff and Kevin Stein who were operating out of 97 Dean Street where I saw a lot of The Kids Are Alright in its pre-production stage. It’s funny how even on the occasions when we met up for a drink or had dinner that I didn’t say to Jeff how he didn’t have any fans talking about The Who on camera, I could have got my face in the frame many times but for some odd Who-family reason I never once turned up at a gig with a camera. They did use my Goldhawk Social Club membership card as Chris Chappell described it to me over the phone when the card went missing for a while that it was “used for the rostrum work”, if I got gold I still can’t see it in Kids Are Alright. Any documentary on The Who that’s worth its salt and hopes to carry validity has to have a fan or a few fans talking about the band – that’s what makes Justin Kreutzmann’s video Fragments so good; read the inside sleeve notes by Mark Oliver Everett..that’s a Who fan talking. Of all the bands in the world which mirrors its fan audience – only the Who knows how. Because whether he likes it or not, Pete Townshend writes as a fan. Townshend’s stance as a Mod mirrored his own band and that of himself. Enough ! By now I’m in touch also with Franc Roddam. (“The Times”) announced that Lady Maura had arrived from Cork (seven miles from Blarney) by jet, and moved into a furnished flat in Harwood Road, Fulham Broadway – my bed at the hotel in Victoria was too small – for the official opening of the Exhibition. Gordon Burn became a friend. He interviewed me at length for the Sunday Times magazine and got a cameraman to stick a lens two inches from my nostril, classy stuff in a workingman’s cafe in Soho, he was the one who told me I had a Jewish nose. He was a fantastic talker and thinker Gordon Burn. I spent hours and hours drinking and talking with him and spent time in his apartment in Beaufort Mansions. He writes now for among others The Guardian / Observer and has become a very successful writer. He also wrote a treatise on Dr. Marten boots.
Daily Work Sheet, Monday 31 July
Top : Cathy McGowan doyen of Ready Steady Go was coming to the reception launch ! Peter Meaden told me to pop around to Trinfold where there was a valuable copy of ‘I’m The Face’ waiting for me on Mike Shaw’s desk. And I was ringing Paul Townshend about four more invites for his mum and dad, Betty and Cliff. Mid : Ah yes, the long promised Vespa was at long last arriving by Red Star at Paddington station…was this another pick-up job for absent-minded brother Jim in his wooden panelled Morris Traveller?? Lady Maura arrives at Heathrow from Cork (seven miles from Blarney) at 7pm..I’m too nervous to give the pick-up job to brother Jim, he would probably get the Arrivals floor right… but at Stanstead ! Lee Gaish, brother of Martin and drummer of The Miming Who will be lending us his collection of Roger’s harmonicas.
‘Confidentially Speaking’ was written & typed up by me. It’s my idea of a fictitious conversation between three protagonists.. organiser Steve Margo, Pete Townshend and me. It is actually based on the Peter Cook / Dudley Moore ‘Derek & Clive’ The Worst Job I Ever Had, and this came from Barney (he of Richard Barnes) buying me the Derek & Clive album as a gift. He had a fantastic girl friend at the time called Carla Swaffer and we three became great friends because you just could not resist Barney’s amazing sense of humour. The man was gifted and still is. After a couple of weeks working on the Exhibition I started calling Margo, Steve “Margate”, as in Mods rioting on the south coast. I haven’t seen this from my archives in a long time and I’m still laughing.
It’s official, we’ve got a bloody Exhibition !! The events programme looked very impressive. The revered I.C.A. and we’re in the company of such hip and grandiose knee tremblings as people like Allen Jones, Laurie Rae Chamberlain and a filmed documentary downstairs ‘Punk In London’ by German film maker Wolfgang Buld, his work covered the Sex Pistols, Stranglers, the Clash, X-Ray Spex, Boomtown Rats, Adverts, Rough Trade, Killjoys, Jolt, Jam, Lurkers, Anonymous Chaos, Electric Chairs, Subway Sect…..meanwhile those with wispy long hair, bell bottoms and a dress sense of the fast disappearing 70s were busy using up rolls of sellotape sticking Who Exhibition posters on the entrance walls and picking up boxes of Who badges from a printer in Covent Garden. According to the events programme, our Exhibition -despite the fact punk in London was a threatening storm cloud some of us chose to ignore- ‘would not be a display of relics, however, as the show would also be ‘live’ – with film clips, holograms and slides as well as special events, guest appearances by a variety of key pesonalities and the music of The Who.’ We were told by Trinifold that Roger and John wouldn’t be there for the opening. Roger flew to New York on Monday 31 July and John was equally unavailable. We were initially very disappointed to learn that the four members of the Who would not be there for the opening. When I phoned Bill Curbishley he told me that it would work out better in the long run because Roger and John would visit the Exhibition during the second week and this would invigorate public interest. As it turned out, he was right. On the opening day as already chronicled in the Who Convention 2006 programme, I was nervously waiting for my brother Jim to arrive in his wooden panelled Morris Traveller from Pete Townshend’s house in Twickenham where Mrs. Betty Townshend had helped him load a suitcase full of smashed guitars…Meanwhile my wife Maura wanted to know when was the last time I had eaten..I had grown so thin. Some time around one o’clock I met Pete coming into the I.C.A. reception hall with Richard Barnes; Paddy The Plank was doing security on the door to the champagne reception area so I gripped Pete by the arm and said to Paddy..”It’s okay. He’s with me.” Then Moonie arrived in a gush of excitement and fan worship. I think he actually walked into the entrance hall holding a glass of brandy surrounded by fans who had lined up outside. I remember him remarking on the admission price in his customary Oxford tones..”Twenty five pence admission – bloody excessive, I say !” He had a ready made audience and he made the whole day shine. “I believe you have an Exhibition to show us, my good man.” I had tears in my eyes. I introduced him to Maura.. “Keith, my wife Maura. You’ve met before.” “Well, I know she’s your wife, Jack.” “Oh?” “Well, work it out, She looks like you !” All of this banter and play acting with a crowd circled around him.
The famous suitcase of smashed guitars. The photo was taken by Martin Cook of the Boathouse (later Eel Pie) after he was summoned to Pete’s basement by Mrs. Betty Townshend to capture the shot. Steve Margo and I looked on in disbelief as Betty directed Martin to shoot from several different angles. There were four people in the darkened basement and we were each falling over stuff on the floor.
To my shame I don’t know who sculpted this Roger bust. I’m not even sure if we had a exhibit list. I know it was a girl. I don’t know who took the photo. It might have been a boy or a girl. As well as that, someone somewhere (I hope) must have taken a photo of Peter Blake’s ‘Self Portrait With Badges’ which we were very proud to exhibit. I was stunned when Mafalda Hall informed me that Peter Blake thee Peter Blake, had no objection to us borrowing his celebrated and iconic The First Real Target and Self Portrait With Badges.
By now, the world and its aunty knows that Peter Blake born in Dartford, Kent in 1932, designed the cover for the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper album, as well as organising himself and the fifteen other contemporary artists who contributed to the Who’s Face Dances art work in 1981. Blake in more reccent years worked on the Band Aid poster and cover for the single ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ in 1984, Paul Weller’s Stanley Road in 1995 and the Ian Drury tribute album ‘Brand New Boots And Panties’ in 2001 – Blake also taught Ian Drury art at the Royal Academy and was influential in encouraging him to take up music. Often referred to as the father of Pop Art, Peter Blake’s 1961 pieces The First Real Target and Self Portrait With Badges as well as Female Wrestler had a profound and lasting effect on Pete Townshend.
Now this could be a complete waste of your time ! This is an attempt by me to frame a collage (very arty word that which I picked up from Tracy Emin) an attempt by me to frame a collage of bits and pieces which for some totally irrational reason bears profound meaning to fucking nobody but me. Montage (another arty word) it is, some of it is clever and the other is where I’m probably trying too hard to have relevance. Just look how floppy I look, a crimped jacket over a khaki shirt and underneath the Who’s Who tee-shirt. Why not wear the tee-shirt openly Mr. Jack? I hear you bleat. Well, long time friends will avow that because of my scrawny arms I have never ever been a tee-shirt wearer. I absolutely detest short sleeved anything. I never feel right. My elbows stick out at all the wrong angles. Not very Mod-looking, am I? So, whatever about the photo of the frame which hung with some semblence of cool, readers will be cross-eyed and completely disorientated by trying to follow the mess that purports to be an explanatory guide to what the fuck is going on.
‘Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.’
(Photo: Robert Ellis)
Daily Work Sheet, Monday 14 August
Top : I did an interview with a girl called Jackie Whitburn for the Acton Gazette. I had to travel out to the newspaper office to do it. We got on very well. She wrote all my answers down short-hand and we were shaking hands saying ‘Goodbye’ when in after thought she just happened to mention that her boyfriend played bass guitar. I stopped by the door and asked what band did he play with? She said, “The Simon Townshend Band”. His name was Tony Butler.
Iain Quicke thought up the novel idea of putting a few framed visuals behind the corrugated sheeting so’s that visitors would have to look through a hole to see the exhibit. What we didn’t envisage was that when the naked eye is exposed to a keyhole or like aperture for more than 30 seconds an emission of air makes the eye water. This was the answer to the mystery as to how some people could be seen walking out of the exhibition room holding hankerchiefs to their eyes. One of the exhibits seen through a hole was a photo of a clapped out scooter rusting in my back garden resting on a concrete block, next to it lay the kids scooter I had bought my daughter Karen when I “celebrated” my 30th at the infamous Newcastle Odeon ’73. Annie Kelly at Group 5 had printed up the accompanying poem that appeared under the photo. The piece was called ‘Mod’s Lament’..’I left my Vespa in the shed, I did it for Lorraine (couldn’t make Maura rhyme), I promised her when we were wed, I’d never ride again, I looked at it the other day, It brought a massive tear, its shining chrome had turned to rust its mirrors front and rear, Those days of mine are gone I know, it’s good to have a wife, but now and then I think of me, a face in Sixty-five..’ Obviously by the time patrons had viewed the image and then read the poem in all its cornyness, a well watered eye was more than guaranteed. Detours / Who drummer Doug Sandom had contributed some rare photos for framing as well as a headline story about the early Detours pivotal gig at Acton Town Hall, ‘Detours Jazz Group’ – Doug told me the band often looked for early gigs posing as a jazz outfit because pub owners and dance hall managers didn’t want to be associated with Teds who would turn up looking for a fight. Bottom : after the street-cred nod of punk affirmation in her preview in Time Out it was time to invite Jennifer Selway up to the I.C.A. Looking back, it’s strange how we were desperate for Punk acknowledgement for our exhibition…and how out-there bands like the Sex Pistols were actually playing ‘I Can’t Explain’ and ‘Substitute’ and the Clash ended one particularly outrageous night at the Nashville with a riot orchestrated by an incendiary My Generation.
The 3 protagonists : Pete Johns, Steve Margo and Irish Jack.
(Photo: Robert Ellis)
Steve Margo, Pete Johns, Simon Platz and Irish Jack
(Photo: Robert Ellis)
Time Off Ad Lib’ – (London Evening News 29-7-78 page 12) this was the first of many reviews we received, all of them good. Here’s something quite unworthy though, I quote.. “Who freaks from all over the country are expected to travel to the Mall to pay homage to the band and indulge in 13 years of nostalgia.. (that bit’s good..but here = “With a helping hand from Ad Lib the Exhibition has been put on by Who fans….” ‘With a helping hand from Ad Lib’ ???? Just what did they do to help mount the Exhibition? Margo, Johns and I read this in a Soho pub and had a great laugh but we were young and innocent of newspaper and magazines jumping on the bandwagon. But there was more to come..I quote.. “At the exhibition’s champagne launch party on Tuesday they’ll be bringing in a crate of Newcastle Brown for one of the guests of honour—Irish Jack, one of the Who’s longest and most devoted fans and one of the people responsible for getting the show together. Jack, now at 34, an unemployed window cleaner from Dublin, has been a fan since the band first appeared in Shepherd’s Bush under the name of Detours. He has been to almost all of the band’s concerts, has all their records, took his wife Maura on honeymoon to see the band at the Isle of Wight and remembers with nostalgia the time he was working on the buses in Dublin got a sick note and hopped on a ferry to see them play in Swansea….” I have underlined the following : almost all = I’d have to be Richard Branson with a travelling stomach pump. Dublin = I was under the impression I was from Cork. Honeymoon = erm, we were married in March ! It must have been a long bloody honeymoon to still be able to go and see the Who at the Isle of Wight in August. Don’t these people write anything down when they interview you ? Still, it was a great bit of coverage from the widely consumed London Evening News and we were delighted with the exposure. It helped us no end.
5-photo sheet. Pete’s guitar top left. We got the pinball machine from Shepperton Studios through Roger Searle from Who production, a very helpful man who had a knack of telling you something would be nigh impossible to get and two days later they’d be a message waiting for you at Essex Music to say Roger Searle phoned to say he has that object d’art you were looking for. Readers can see Iain Quicke’s influence with the corrugated grafftied walls thus giving the patron the impression he was walking through a maze of back alleys in Shepherd’s Bush. The middle photo on the right is where we had the record booth. It was manned every day by Who roadie Steve King, a stout, flaxen haired hippy from Worester Park in Surrey with a giant smile. In the top photo on the right we added a tribute frame picture of Peter Meaden (written up by Bill Curbishley) who sadly died on us on Monday 7 August hardly a week after we opened. He had been at the reception opening and we talked about the Goldhawk. He was King Mod.
2-photo sheet. A great b/w shot of Pete next to the framed guitar-smash sequence, it might have been what influenced the ‘This guitar has only seconds to live’ theme. Below is the fantastic Pictures of Lily graphic art work by Allen Jones. I could go on for hours about him but readers will find all they want to know about this gifted artist on Google or Wikipedia. Allen Jones, of course, contributed a fantastic part-skeletal portrait of Roger for the Face Dances album in 1981. The I.C.A. said it would be too costly to hire a security man to prevent people from getting up on the drums for a photo, so we got a madman in called ‘Paddy The Plank’ and John Wolffe sent us a Who roadie called Keith Smith.
Daily Work Sheet, Thursday 24 August
Top : I took Doug Sandom along with Steve Margo and Pete Johns to see the Pirates play at the Marquee. Historians will be only too well aware that it was upon supporting Johnny Kidd & The Pirates at St. Mary’s Hall in Putney in 1963 and seeing Mickey Greene play that the Detours decided to be a quartet. John Entwistle was supposed to come along as well and Margo and myself had a half hatched plan to get John and Doug up to play a number. When Entwistle didn’t arrive at the appointed time in the Ship Bar on Wardour Street, I phoned his house at Hangar Lane and Allison told me he was due back and had mentioned going to see the Pirates later. We managed to cock it up in a way because we actually left it to the last of the three nights the Pirates played. Had we organised it for the first or second night we would have stood a better chance of including Entwistle. He missed out on quite a night and could have bought drinks for the four of us.
Mid : I took Helen Queen and her brother David from Hillhead, Glasgow along to the Golden Egg in Fulham Broadway to see The Simon Townshend Band. That was the first time I met bassist Tony Butler (now a school teacher in Launceston, Cornwall) and drummer Mark Brzezicki who became a good friend of mine.
Clipping from the Evening Standard showing Pictures of Lily drums. We were told at Essex Music that the Evening Standard were sending their art critic. I remember this well because this guy was a bit like Frank Rich the theatre critic known as the ‘Butcher of Broadway’. This was no teeny pop magazine google-eyed review and it was our first real test for the Exhibition to be taken seriously. I remember Mafalda Hall phoned up the Standard and asked if he would like to interview the organisers and was told ‘No !’ in no uncertain terms, ‘he will pick his own time to visit and that’s the way he likes to work.’ Well, nothing could be clearer. “Does he know the I.C.A. is closed Sundays and Mondays?”, I asked Mafalda over the phone hoping for dear life that an unfortunate pointless trip to find the hallowed portals of the Institute of Contemporary Art padlocked might enhance his ire and deign us a pretty lousy review. “Darling, I’m sure he’s been there many times before. Don’t worry, everything will be fine. You’ll see.” ‘Oh, God!’, I thought to myself as I pressed button-B to try and get some coins back, ‘if only I had Mafalda’s faith, hope and charity…and her sexy Englishey-French accent. ‘Does anybody know what he looks like?’.
Here’s a great shot of us. From left, Steve Margo, Pete Johns, Paddy The Plank, Simon Platz and Irish Jack. In the top left hand corner is a truly remarkable composite of the four faces of The Who. I don’t know who exactly put it together but it was a masterpiece and a great idea. We used to kid each other about it and say ‘Imagine if a person with that face walked into the Exhibition?’ Maybe he or she is out there somewhere? Paddy The Plank was part of ShowCo who provided a lot of security for Who gigs. I got to know Paddy well down through the years. I think he had a pub in north London or somewhere near Watford. His brother is Jim Callaghan who looks after Mick Jagger. I have been rescued from drink and groupies many times by both Paddy The Plank and his brother Jim. Jim Callaghan pops up in my spoof letter to Pete Townshend from the manager of Tillington Hall Hotel complaining about Irish Jack, it can be found in the Odyssey & Sodyssey thread on my web site www.thewho.net/irishjack The piece would have been sent to Pete to honour his birthday some years ago, one of my idiot-syncrasies was to “surprise” Pete every second year with something unusual, the spoof letter along with a box of old socks I had rubbed into a box of rotting fish thus attaining the required radon would have accompanied the spoof letter…”I notice you appear to possess a keener sense of smell than the average” opined Mr. Percy Tillington the fictitious manager of the (real) Tillington Hall Hotel in his letter of complaint to Pete where we stayed after the gig at Stafford Bingley Hall, November 1979. – Back at the Exhibition, one afternoon certain members of the organising crew and Who-loaned security were feeling quite parched. Mindful of the fact the C.I.A….sorry, I.C.A., did not have a bar Paddy The Plank made a whip round and gave me something like £ 10 (a lot back then) to go out and buy some cans. After half an hour I returned to the gallery sweating profusely and armed with two dozen cans of Brown ale. When Paddy opened the plastic bags he looked at me and said, “Christ Almighteee, why didn’t you buy a fucking selection of drinks, Jack. Who wants two dozen cans of fucking Brown ale?” The last time I saw Paddy The Plank he was minding Elvis Costello at a gig in my home town Cork many years ago. And every time we ever met at a Who gig that story came up. (Photo: Robert Ellis)
Who-Doo You Come From? This was a poem I sent Pete years before the Who Exhibition was even a twinkle in Steve Margo’s eye…he only ever used just the one eye to twinkle ! Pete loved this tribute of mine and said he was glad to see the portable Olympic typewriter wasn’t going to waste. While we were organising material prior to the opening Pete flew back from New York on Thursday 27 July. Judy Waring, Pete’s secretary, phoned Essex to say Pete wanted to record the poem as a novelty piece for the Exhibition. Well, I was over the moon. Unfortunately Pete got somewhat sidetracked catching up on business upon his return and within a few days we were open. I might ask Bob Pridden to record it sometime!
3-photo sheet. Top : Rejected art work for Meaty, Beaty, Big And Bouncy (does anyone know her name?) More pictures of Lily Bayless. I was constantly buying rolls of Sellotape.
When I went to London some years ago to help Tony Fletcher with background for his book ‘Dear Boy : The Life Of Keith Moon, I was intrigued when he told me that as a 14-year-old he had paid a visit to the Who’s Who Exhibition and met Keith Moon. At the time Tony ran a fanzine called Jamming. While studying the bizarre life-sized hologram of Keith the fourteen year-old Tony found the real thing standing right next to him. Tony related this story to me as we sat with a drink in the old Goldhawk Social Club where I had taken him as part of his induction if he were to write a book on Keith Moon. Sadly perhaps an editor did what editors do when they are editing..edited.. out that bit about our trip to the Goldhawk Social Club and Tony being asked to leave by a club steward because he was wearing jeans..I got it sorted in time through Roy Shelley, old Goldhawk Mod Tommy Shelley’s uncle, then again perhaps Tony never submitted the account. Tony went on to tell me that back at the Who Exhibition Keith signed his Jamming fanzine, an edition which contained a biography on the Who. When Keith saw the magazine he remarked he hadn’t seen it before. Tony was about to hand him his copy. “No, no. You want this one signed,” said Keith. To Tony’s amazement Keith hurriedly scribbled his Flat 9, Curzon Place, Mayfair address on a slip of paper and handed it to Tony. A couple of weeks later young Tony Fletcher arrived at the address. There was nobody in. There never is, is there? Tony slipped a spare copy of Jamming and his name and address and phone number under the door and left the building. He never heard back from Keith but wasn’t really surprised. His good fortune was that he had attained the greatest prize of all; a kind word, a friendly smile and a promise of the impossible. That’s all you needed from Keith Moon.
3-photo sheet. Top left : Jeff & Kevin Stein arrived at the Exhibition one day just before we were closing with a cousin of their’s whose claim to fame was that from a side view, at least, he resembled Roger Daltrey…(eat your heart out Barry Wholigan !!). The unexpected visit held all the appurtenances of it being a part private, clandestine affair. Now I can’t for the life of me remember the young lad’s name but the Stein’s brought along a very nice photographer from Zurich called Alex Kipfer. Alex is the man who took nearly all of the colour shots on view in this Retrospective apart from where Bob Ellis is credited. It was a hilarious half an hour as Jeff coaxed his cousin to pose at several angles in a desperate attempt to resemble Roger (Barry would have absolutlely no problem there !) The young man might even have sat behind the drums but I have no evidence of that..Alex might.
I might have my time frame all wrong here though I am blessed with quite good recall..but I find it a little strange that Jeff Stein did not include any of the Who Exhibition in his otherwise fantastic Kids Are Alright documentary. Looking through nearly all of my daily work sheets, only 8 are shown here, I find I was in constant touch with Jeff and Kevin, I stayed overnight in their rented house at 119 Heath Street in Hampstead and we did lunch a few times. I remember him lending me 50 pounds for something, for some reason he was in joyful mood as he read a letter from his father Saul to his brother Kevin. I often wondered if his camera was still rolling when Pete walked across the stage with me in his arms at Shepperton..?
The b/w at the bottom of the photo sheet is the only one I have of the famous hologram we used of Keith Moon. It was assembled by John Wolffe at Shepperton studios and was regularly checked over by another Who technician John Carr. I’m not technical enough to reveal its inner most details except to say it was very unusual to have such an exhibit for the public and indeed, I might add, very unusual to have an Exhibition on a rock band. The Who had a roadie called Keith Smith who looked after John Entwistle’s amps among other things. He was a lovely chap and a great guy to have a drink with. One afternoon, things were a bit on the quiet side, so Keith who had been entrusted by Shepperton to look after the revered hologram every day said he was popping out on a bit of urgent business…As he hurried away with assurances of a speedy return the wisdomed Cockney vowels of Paddy The Plank could never have been more on target…”That’ll either be a woman or a pint up the road!” As I have said already at the beginning of this Retrospective, looking back at 1978 there is a refreshing model of both innocence and community in so far as not one of my daily work sheets contain a mobile number, an e mail address or web site..Hyper-Text-Transfer-Protocol, who he when he’s out? Bereft of mobile phones and without a wall phone in the vicinity of the New Gallery at the I.C.A. sometimes led to the funniest situations…Keith Smith, whatever he was up to, woman or pint (as Paddy The Plank had suggested) was not there when the Emporer of Japan…the bald figure of John Wolffe came ambling up the stairs making a totally unexpected visit to the exhibit rooms. I had no way of warning Keith Smith that his boss was around and would very soon be taking a look to see how his baby -the revered hologram- was getting on. I nipped downstairs to the entrance hall in an attempt to ambush Keith but there was no sign of him. Back upstairs something had gone wrong with the hologram and it needed attention. John Wolffe (“Wiggy” as he is more universally known) was apocletic that his young charge was obviously out on a “bloody completely unauthorised skive” as he put it. As a result of his misdemeanour Keith Smith was suspended from the pay roll for three days. I just hope she was worth it or that it was a well poured pint.
Time Out. Roundabout: Other Events. Just before we opened, we had an exciting visitor to interview us at Essex Music. Time Out magazine was the real thing, the cutting edge of what was frothing up on the London scene and if we could get a good pre-view from them the Exhibition would have a semblence of street cred about itself. She was a small, young punk journalist called Jennifer Selway and I met her in the reception entrance downstairs. As we stood waiting for the lift to the 3rd floor we could hear the strains of a band recording in another room. Judging by the music it certainly wasn’t The Who. She seemed distracted by the sounds, so stuck for something intelligible, I asked, “Who’s that?” She looked at me as if I should already know. “That’s Poly Styrene.” “Who?” ” X-Ray Spex. I heard they’re recording here.” I looked down at my late-70s bell bottoms, my over-sized Dr. Marten boots and my very un-punk-like flight jacket and replied with a container of gravel in my mouth, “Oh ! X-Ray Spex, didn’t they do that erm………?”
She was a little piqued and what really told me was the way she jabbed the button for the 3rd floor herself as we ascended towards Taj Mahal Essex and it’s hair-brained 70s personnel who couldn’t tell the Strangers from Eddie & The Hot Rods. And I was one of them. I knew she would write something acidy.. ‘My suggestion that such relic fetishism was a nail in the coffin for the band and their music was hotly denied by Irish Jack (wearing Pete Townshend’s boots—I was !) who’s been chasing up middled-aged mods all over West London and turning over their memorabilia. Simon held out an old poster questioningly. ‘File it under W advised Jack.’ It could be said that when we first met she wasn’t exactly impressed but when she saw the madness abroad in that hot stuffy office we called home and how dedicated we all were I think she saw traces of a kind of punk anarchy. She was much happier going back down in the lift than coming up. When we shook hands and she left I remained standing by the lift listening to the music and wondered if I should invite X-Ray Spex to the reception.
5-photo sheet. The rest speak for themselves but top right Pete donated a novel profile of himself in typical confusion. What makes it credible is his own handwriting.
5-photo sheet. Middle left, this is Helen Queen and her brother David with John. She lived in Glasgow Street, Hillhead in Glasgow and travelled down to London with her brother David to see the Exhibition. I haven’t seen sight nor sound of her for a very very long time and often wondered how she’s getting on. I took her and her brother to see Paul Townshend and his punk band Heroes play. I also took them along to see Simon Townshend’s band play at the Golden Lion in Fulham Broadway on Thursday 24 August. Bottom left, me refusing to wear the sleeveless Who’s Who tee-shirt. Look at the length of the hair ! Bottom right, this is Dave Gray and his little boy Michael with Roger, they lived at Sudbury House, on Wandsworth High Street, south west London.
Outstanding coverage from What’s On In London two inside pages and front page! The guy who interviewed us was a pure Who fanatic and though Time Out’s Jennifer Selway made me slightly uneasy with punk storm clouds gathering, Mike Mills was a breath of fresh air. Even while he was asking me questions he was doing windmills he’d seen at Charlton. He was also a big Mod and was well tutored in 60s music. A bit of what he wrote in his review : “Well, the place must be wrong for a start (I.C.A.) it’ll be full of arty trendies cooing about the importance of Pop Art as a movement, (‘Oh, yeah?) and the whole thing is probably an industry rip-off to promote more record sales…But no, it isn’t. The show is the product neither of the culture factory nor of the rockbiz. It represents a homage of a kind, put together by and for the fans. For, as far as the true Who fan is concerned, they’re all in the band, and the band is just the performing end of the family, so to speak. (‘Oh, yes, yes ! Shades here of brilliant quote from Celia Farber interviewing Townshend for Spin magazine..Kurt Cobain cover ’95 “The relationship between Pete Townshend and his audience is unique in rock sociology…. We never seem to get over whatever it is we can’t seem to get over. And Quadrophenia is our favourite album.” And now, back to Mike Mills : “This (exhibition) is not a manifestation of hero-worship. In the nicest possible way, it’s an expression of the narcissism which is what the mods were all about.” We just couldn’t keep out of the press during August. Incredible to believe, when in an age now where promoters of art exhibitions and organisers et al are striving for press coverage, The Who were given an unprecedented 3 pages by Chris Welch in Melody Maker under the heading ‘Amazing Journey…15 Years of The Who’, Steve Margo got a lump sum of print