Following are pictures taken by Dennis at the Winterland Auditorium in San Francisco in February 23, 1968.
you wanted a story. My memory came back and it was getting wordy. So I'm
doing it in two parts if you don't mind. The first part is The Who at
Winterland, Feb. 1968. With pictures. As follows, with photo attachments:
A Farmboy's meets The Who - part one
Following their odd-ball combo tour with Herman's Hermits in the summer
of 1967, The Who spent a great deal of time touring the U.S. in 1968-69.
They were stuck somewhere between "The Who Sell Out" and "Tommy" with no
apparant direction other than what they had always done - go on stage, put
on a very loud rendition of hit singles and odd LP tracks, set off some
smoke bombs, smash their gear and disappear behind a hovering white cloud
that slowly drifted out over the audience accompanied by a weird stench of
whatever chemicals produced the smoke in the first place.
That was my introduction to The Who Live. But first a little bit of
I fell immediately in love with the band in October, 1965 when the ABC TV
series "Shindig" visited England's Richmond Jazz & Blues Festival of that
summer. At that point The Who had two singles "I Can't Explain" and
"Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere" in release, and nothing else. "My Generation"
was just around the next bend. My 16-year-old fix on life told me "this is
going to be the greatest band since The Beatles!"
Whether time has proved right is a matter of individual opinion.
I felt like a Who fan removed by 6,000 miles. When your 16, living on a
farm in central California, the world of "Swinging London" is a long way
off. The first thing I did was join "The Who Fan Club of England" for a
modest fee. Through the club I began writing a pen-pal. In my wildest
dreams I never would have thought she knew The Who personally, but she did.
Then I subscribed to The New Musical Express, one of the two dominate
music-trade papers in England at the time. Now I was set. I was cool. I had
an inside track on the future biggest band since The Beatles.
And that's what I lived with from October, 1965 to February, 1968. Three
LP's, several singles, a growing collection of foreign news clippings, club
newsletters every other month, and the desperate wait for mail from my
The Who came to the U.S., for the first time, in the spring of 1967 for
a week-long stint at some foolish pop marathon in New York City and a
one-off concert in Detroit. Then they went home. They returned in June for
two nights at San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium followed immediately by
the Monterey International Pop Festival.
Those California shows were right in my backyard and I did not hear about
them until later! If you wanted to see a confused and pissed farm-boy Who
fan, you should have seen me then.
Eight months later, on a Friday afternoon in February, 1968, two
pot-smoking jokers told me "By the way, The Who are in San Francisco
tonight: you want a ride? Only two bucks!" Yeh! I wanted a ride. I gave
them two dollars and show up at the predetermined location several hours
later, only to find I'd be riding the 90 mile trip in the back of a pick-up
truck - in February.
Winterland, February 23, 1968:
The pot-smoking jokers drop me off in front of the auditorium, promising
to return much later after scoring. I buy my ticket for $3 from a dimly-lit
one-person booth and go in. This was a place I'd been to once before, in
1959, when I went with my parents to an ice-skating show. The auditorium
was now a former shell of what it had been and surrounded by an encroaching
"bad part of town".
I wander into a dark, cavernous, empy hall featuring black-lights,
Jefferson Airplane background music coming from hidden speakers, several
hundred San Francisco hippies lounging around the peripheral and an unusual
sweet yet pungent aroma drifting across the spacious, empy floor. But I had
my Kodak camera. I was ready!
Three acts into the show, a thin, English-looking fellow hauls the
'Pictures of Lily" drum set to center stage and begins nailing it to the
floor. I remember thinking "Is that Keith?". It sort of resembled the
photos I'd seen. Other stage hands were moving things around. I kept
looking for Pete or John, thinking they must be up there. This is their
stuff, after all. It never occured to me they had a road crew.
Everything is in place. The lights are dimmed. Jefferson Airplane music
is still coming from somewhere unseen. Out of the shadows Bill Graham,
himself, walks up to a mike..."Ladies and gentlemen, from England - The
That was my introduction to The Who -Live. In a half empty arena, with
500 to 600 local San Francisco hippies as fellow observers, and the
biggest, loudest blast of sound I've ever heard. I don't remember the songs
done that night, because I was so overwhelmed at being five feet from
everything I'd ever hoped for. If you saw The Who in those years, you can
fill in the blanks. If you did'nt - maybe because you weren't born yet -
well, I don't know. There's no putting it into words. You had to have been
I took pictures, using my mom's Kodak Brownie Camera. Several of which are
Part two to come - A Farmboy meets The Who in person
-A Farmboy's meets The Who - part two
Once you hear live WHO, the recorded WHO is never the same. Following
that first night, I put "The Who Sell Out" on my turntable. As loud as I
turned the volume up on my little Columbia portable stereo-in-a-suitcase,
"Relax" was nowhere near the incredible tour-de-force I'd heard the night
The Who returned for a summer tour in July. I'd now recruited my younger
brother and his best friend as Who fans and together we went up to
Sacramento, California and were surprised to find front-row seats still
available an hour before the show. This is what I vaguely remember as the
poorest Who concert I ever saw. The band was in top form, but the sound
system, the mediocre staging and the amps and cabinets provided gratis by
the Sunn Corporation didn't meet the task.
Sacramento, California - July 8, 1968
Thursday night, August 15, 1968. The Who are back in San Francisco at the
Carousel Ballroom (Fillmore West) for their third night in a row. .We made
the trip up on tuesday - opening night - and here we are again.This has
been a bluesy show with Magic Sam opening, followed by the James Cotton
Blues Band. I love Blues, but sometimes a little goes a long ways.
But this is it. I've got my younger brother, his friend, my dad's 1938
Korolla Reflex camera with a new roll of film. Let's rock!
Again, the stage is cleared. Some chap comes out with, again, Keith's
"Pictures of Lily" drum set and begins nailing it to the floor. Again Bill
Graham, in due time, appears from the shadows..."A warm San Francisco
welcome please for - THE WHO".
And again, I don't remember the sequence of songs performed. I leave that
to people who thrive on such details. But this was an historic night,
according to Rolling Stone Magazine. This was the night Pete chose not to
smash a guitar. The full details of that decision, as well as some great
photos can be seen in Rolling Stone #18, Sept. 28, 1968, a copy of which I
sure would like to have (hint hint). This was also the last time I ever saw
Keith's "Pictures of Lily" drum set.
This great concert ended with Pete climbing up his speaker cabinets,
standing atop them and, in a big circular spotlight, with legs spread,
windmilling his way through the final chords of "My Generation" before
throwing his Gibson SG to the floor below, leaping off the cabinets,
kicking them over and disappearing backstage, leaving only Keith to create
the final havoc.
The show is over, the medium-sized audience is leaving the ballroom. My
brother, his friend and I are standing by the stage watching the cleanup
when the strangest thing occured. My brother, Randy, had the gall to ask
Who tour manager Bob Pridden "can we go backstage?"
Bob Pridden replied "Yeh, if you help us take this equipment to the truck."
And so, on Thursday night, August 15, 1968 at or around 11 p.m., my
brother, his friend and I began hauling Who equipment down a twisted flight
of stairs from a second-story ballroom on Market Street, San Francisco to a
pair of Hertz rent-a-trucks parked on a side street in silent, heavy fog. I
know we had help from the regular crew, but I sure don't remember any. The
speaker cabinets were the worst. Almost impossible for one person to
handle. Bob Pridden was taking us for fools.
The wonderful part was the joy of carrying Keith's "Pictures of
drums, in containers, to the truck. By this time it was midnight. It was
almost as if the city had gone to sleep. the street was empty, the fog was
thick, it was spooky quiet and the regular Who crew were all upstairs.
There I am, standing in fog on a deserted street with Keith Moon's drums.
Shall I set them by the truck or just start walking down the street with
these magical pieces, never to be seen again?
I set them down and went back upstairs.
Bob Pridden kept his word. We did our job and now the dressing room was ours.
Strange, the things you remember from so many years ago. The first thing I
now think of is a wall of huge, black curcuit breakers. I'd never seen such
a mass of power source in one place. And Roger Daltrey is standing there.
Unbelievably, he begins a conversation with us. Small talk, I don't recall
any of it.
John steps out of the dressing room, which is actually two steps up and
seperated from this room of amazing curcuit-breakers. I ask him if I can
feel his hair. Stupid! Stupid! What a remark! I want to feel his black hair
because it appears, from a distance, to be as dry as straw. It's not. It's
the silkiest, smoothest hair I've ever felt. What other stupid things can
I do tonight in the presence of the most gifted and powerful rock band on
We step up into the dressing-room proper. It's only about 12 feet by 20
feet, with tiny dressing closets off to the side. The room contains a
worn-out couch, a table with an assortment of bottled drinks and food,
several young ladies in typical, outlandish hippie fashions of the time,
various Who crew members and, I swear, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd (who, I'm
finding out even as I'm writing this, played in Sacramento, 60 miles to the
east the next night, so I guess it's possible.)
Pete Townshend is coming toward me. I don't know what to do or say, if
anything. My mouth opens on it's own accord and out come the words "I'll
give you five bucks for your jeans".
It sounds more stupid now than it did to me at the time. Five dollars was
all I had in my pocket. Pete was wearing the jeans he'd been wearing on
stage. It was an historic show, the first night he didn't smash his guitar,
and I really wanted a souvenir.
I can't describe the look he gave me. It struck me at the time as pure,
undiluted contempt. He says nothing. He glowers at me. Thankfully, Keith
jumps out of a dressing closet and says "I'll give him fifty bucks just to
see his legs!"
The remainder of the evening is a haze. I feel distinctly uncomfortable.
The girls in the room are whispering, giggling and looking at us...three
farm-boy innocents who seem so out of place.
There's going to be a party at the hotel. We're invited. I don't know who
invited us, but my brother says we're invited to The Who's hotel room for a
party. I tell him we can't. It's already after 1 a.m. and it's an hour and
a half drive home. Our parents would worry if we don't come home. We're
given directions, in case we change our minds. I don't. And we go home.
That's all I can remember of my meeting The Who. A lot of work and sweat.
A mouth that said stupid things. No minute-by-minute recollection. No great
tales of cameraderie. No exchanging guitar riffs. Not even an autograph.
Just hanging out for an hour with a most special band.
Fillmore West, San Francisco - August 15, 1968
Fillmore West, San Francisco - June 1969
Following are photos taken by Dennis at the Cow Palace in San Francisco November 20, 1973. This is the show where Keith passed out and was replaced by audience member Scott Halpin.
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