Behind the Poster: The Who, New York City, March 28, 1967
The show was billed as “Music in the Fifth Dimension” and the advertisement promised “9 Big Days! Continuous Performances Morning ’Til Night.” Beginning in March of 1967, young rock fans would be treated to live music from some of the biggest names in the business... Mitch Ryder! Wilson Pickett! And then, billed under those and advertised as coming “Direct from England,” The Who, who had never played in the United States before.
Once the obligatory dance contest concluded, the announcement over the loud speaker said: “And now, from London England, those ‘Happy Jack’ boys... Please welcome... The Who!”
Here's a review from one of the lucky individuals in attendance:
"Immediately, we heard the solo guitar intro to “Substitute” and then... BOOOOM! The bass and drums came thundering in and then, and only then, the curtain finally slowly started to open. The first Who we saw was Roger, menacingly throwing his mic in a fast tight circle. His hair style and color looked so perfect, it almost seemed fake. The curtain opened a bit more and there was Keith, in a Batman t-shirt, wildly thrashing away behind a brilliant cherry red sparkle double bass drum kit with THE on one drumhead and WHO on the other. Within the first three or four seconds he was visible, Keith shot at least six or seven drumsticks out into the audience, spraying them in every direction.
Then, the curtain opened all the way to reveal John and Pete, both head to toe in immaculate white, both playing blond Fenders, matching bookends. Pete was standing in his “Birdman” pose, legs spread, arms straight out with the guitar droning roaring noise. He contemptuously spit on the stage, actually hocked a real loogie (yikes!), sauntered over to his mic stand and angrily (and on beat) kicked it over and into the orchestra pit!
As John Entwistle watched, standing stock still, his shoulders barely shrugged as he theatrically sighed in weary boredom. A four ring circus!
And, remember, this was 1967. This kinda punk behavior was completely novel, wild, even disconcerting, and about a decade early!
The curtain trick was an amazingly clever move... and The Who were the only band to utilize the gimmick. No running out with a cheery wave and plugging in. No audience witnessing the toiletries. We never saw The Who as anything but gods. They were in full flight within 10 seconds of the beginning of their opening song and we hadn’t even gotten a glimpse of them. And... The Who simply produced the loudest, most brutally raw and exciting sound I’d ever experienced.
I’d seen the Beatles in 1964 and the Rolling Stones in 1965. Both were incredible. But The Who were the most breathtaking rock spectacle I’d ever witnessed. Frankly, to this day, they are the standard by which I judge every live band. And, literally, even sadly, I have never seen their equal.
Immediately after “Substitute”, Pete Townshend said something snotty into his mic and they launched into “My Generation.” Oh my God, my favorite!
But, as “My Generation” hit its chaotic coda, gray-white smoke suddenly started pouring out of the back of Pete’s amps! Oh shit! He yanked off his Telecaster, the hottest must-have guitar in the world and, holding it by the top of the neck like bat, started pounding the stage with it. Up in the front row of the mezzanine, three 14-year-old boys were losing their minds.
After banging it around and bashing it against the mic stand, Townshend threw the guitar so high it momentarily disappeared into the rafters. He let it fall with a huge Kerrrrang! While the guitar lay there groaning and shrieking, Pete stalked back to the two Vox Super Beatles (the largest amps in the USA back then) and with one graceful move, simultaneously pulled them over, both crashing to the floor face-down, and then he casually strolled offstage.
At the precise moment the amps were falling, Moon, on a riser, kicked his entire drum kit over, at least half of it flying into the orchestra pit, as the musicians down there scurried to duck incoming tom-toms. John casually unhooked the strap on his bass and it too slammed onto the stage with a monstrous Brooonnnng!
The curtains quickly closed on the carnage as the pungent smoke wafted into the theater. The audience was in a genuine frenzy. While there certainly was a contingent of us who were there to see The Who, most of the kids there had no idea who they were. Consequently, there was something akin to pandemonium as hundreds of totally mind-blown teenagers tried to assimilate what they’d just witnessed.
As we tried to recover from the ecstatic release of musical and literal vandalism, I realized that both my upper arms ached. Why? As the entire destruction episode went down, my friends, sitting on either side of me had been punching me over and over again in their excitement. Poor Wilson Pickett and Mitch Ryder had to follow that!" - Binky Philips, Contributor, Huff Post
“It was the craziest three weeks of our life,” Roger Daltrey said in an interview in 2018. “I think Murray the K was hoping to do five shows a day. We ended up doing four, I think, and the first one was at 11 o’clock in the morning.” As for their instruments, “we’d spend the next two hours, gluing guitars back together because even us—with the nonchalant attitude to money that we had in those days—couldn’t afford a guitar three times a day.”
This poster was created by Dan Mumford, and we are very thankful for all the time and effort he has poured into this project!
While no film footage exists from the “Music in the Fifth Dimension” shows, here’s The Who later in 1967 performing My Generation: