The British rock band The Who are celebrating its 50th anniversary with a world tour (which includes a stop at the Mohegan Sun Arena on May 24th). To celebrate, the band released a new compilation of greatest hits on CD and vinyl ("The Who Hits 50!" review here), but that doesn't really tell the true story of the band's beginnings. To find that out, you need to search for the newly published book "Pretend You're In A War: The Who & The Sixties" by Mark Blake.
The title comes from a quote from guitarist Pete Townshend in 1964, who described his preparation for a Who show as pretending "you're in a war." The new book goes all the way back to the beginning, going into depth of the childhoods of Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwhistle and later Keith Moon. Their upbringings described within these pages help explain their later-day personalities, but the meat of the book describes the early days of The Who, when they were first known as The Detours and The High Numbers. Being an aviate fan myself, it was interesting to read about Daltrey being the band's first lead guitarist and how Townshend smashing his first guitar came about by embarrassment because the ceiling was too low for his onstage antics. The book also goes into great detail as to The Who's early rise to success behind the lyrics of Townshend and the engine like rhythm section of Entwhistle and Keith Moon, which was unmatched by any other band in the mid-sixties.
The book, based on interviews with Townshend, Daltrey, Entwhistle also goes into detail about their early managers, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp. That duo had a very important role in shaping The Who and what also went on behind the scenes during the sixties. The book ends with The Who riding an emotion and popularity high, having their latest album "Tommy" exceed everyone's expectations and performing in front of half a million people at the 1969 Woodstock festival. "Pretend You're In A War: The Who & The Sixties" was published in March through Aurum Press in association with the Quarto Publishing Group. To find out more about this great new book that belongs on every Who fan's shelf, please visit qbookshop.com.