Pinball Wizard – The Who – 1969

Arguably the best known of all The Who’s songs, 1969’s Pinball Wizard has become a rock ‘n’ roll anthem.

keith’s dead!?!?!

I know this song is a few months outside of the 70s but, having heard the news (I heard the news today, oh boy…), I couldn’t resist.

It seems the committee who are organising the Olympic Games in the UK sent a letter to Keith Moon’s agent asking if he was available to appear in the opening ceremony in an event called the Symphony of Rock.  Unfortunately, as most of us know, Keith passed away 34 years ago.

It a fashion Keith would have approved of those involved have taken every opportunity to rub it into the faces of the Olympic Committee. Keith’s agent responded with a simple email saying he no longer represented Keith but organisers could get a hold of him easily as he now resides in Golders Green crematorium, having lived up to the Who’s anthemic line ‘I hope I die before I get old. The agent also suggested they might have a greater chance of talking to him if they take a round table, some glasses and candles.

One reporter noted that the Olympic Committee had not yet had replies back from Elvis or John Lennon. Another reporter wrote:

Earlier this week, it was reported that Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols turned down an invitation to play the Closing Ceremony. No excuse was reported. Whatever it was, I doubt it was as good as Moon’s.

the era of rock operas

Throughout the late 60s and 70s there were a number of rock operas produced. They included:

  • 1968: The Pretty Things – S.F. Sorrow.
  • 1969: The Who – Tommy.
  • 1969: The Kinks – Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire).
  • 1970: Jesus Christ Superstar.
  • 1972: David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
  • 1973: The Who – Quadrophenia.
  • 1973: Lou Reed – Berlin.
  • 1974: Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.
  • 1978: The War of the Worlds.
  • 1979: Pink Floyd – The Wall.
  • 1979: Frank Zappa – Joe’s Garage.

I’ve probably left a couple out!

For my mind the best has to be The Who’s Tommy.

tommy can you hear me?

The Who’s fourth album, Tommy, has sold over 20 million copies and in 1998 was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for “historical, artistic and significant value.”

Tommy tells the story of a deaf, dumb and blind boy who becomes the leader of a messianic movement, Despite the Pretty Things’ work a year before, Tommy was the first musical work to earn the terminology, ‘rock opera.’

pinball wizard fax

  • Pinball Wizard appears mid-way through The Who’s fourth album Tommy.
  • Pinball Wizard was written by Pete Townshend and was released as a single on March 7th 1969.
  • Pinball Wizard peaked at #4 on the UK singles charts and at #19 in the US.
  • One of The Who’s most famous live songs, Pinball Wizard has been played at almost every Who concert since its debut live performance on 2 May 1969. The Who played Pinball Wizard at Woodstock.
  • Pinball Wizard was the last song written for Tommy. The story goes that Pete wrote it when he found out Nik Cohn a top UK music critic was coming to review the project. Knowing Cohn was a pinball fanatic, he wrote Pinball Wizard.
  • Dutch group The Shocking Blue used Pinball Wizard’s guitar riff as the intro to their hit song, Venus.
  • Cover versions of Pinball Wizard have been released by: The New Seekers (in a medley with See Me Feel Me, another song from Tommy), Elton John, Rod Stewart, Tenacious D, Genesis, and Guns N’ Roses.
  • Elton John’s version of Pinball Wizard made it to #7 on the UK charts – the only cover version of a Who song to make the #10.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode Sweet and Sour Squidward, Pinball Wizard is parodied by Plankton and Squidward.
  • Pinball Wizard lyrics

pinball wizard – the who – 1969 – video


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