The 1973 – 1974 tour

The Who went on tour to support the 1973 release of Quadrophenia, starting in  Stoke-on-Trent, England on October 28, 1973. The tour was plagued by numerous problems, and became a fairly short-lived endeavour. The last performance of the Quadrophenia tour took place in Lyon, France on the 24th of February, 1974.


The album Quadrophenia was filled with rich overdubbed sounds, and to recreate this on stage Townshend wanted to add additional musicians for the tour, especially the keyboardist Chris Stainton who had collaborated with the group during the recording of the album. Daltrey objected to this, as he felt the tour should only be for the four core members of The Who.

Instead of adding additional musicians to their live tour performances, the Who decided to use taped backing tracks – something which they had experience with from performing “Baba O´Riley” and “Won´t Get Fooled Again” live.

One of the downsides of using tapes was that it forced drummer Keith Moon to stick to a click track.

The group had only scheduled two days of pre-tour rehearsals with the tapes, and one of those days was wasted because Daltrey and Townshend got into an argument which ended in Daltrey punching Townshend and rendering him unconscious.

UK tour

  • The tour kicked-off in Stoke-on-Trent on the 28th of October, 1973.
  • The original plan had been to play most of the album live, but after the performance in Stoke-on-Trent the group decided to drop “The Dirty Jobs”, “Is It In My Head” and “I´ve Had Enough” from the act.
  • During a show in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the backing tapes to “5:15” malfunctioned, a mishap to which Townshend reacted by stopping the show, grabbing the sound-man Bob Pridden from the mixing desk, and proceeding to drag him and scream obscenities at him in front of the audience. Townshend then threw some of the tapes across the stage, kicked his amplifier and stormed off. Some of the backing tapes were destroyed from Townsends outburst. After 20 minutes, the group returned to the stage, but could only play older material. At the end of the set, Townshend smashed his guitar and Moon kicked over his drumkit. The following day, they both appeared on local television in an attempt as brushing things off.
  • After the failed show, the Who played two other shows in Newcastle without mishaps.

USA & Canada tour

  • The US & Canada tour started at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California on November 20, 1973. The drummer Moon passed out twice due to a combination of tranquillizers and alcohol; once during “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and the again during “Magic Bus”. After a pause and some jamming, Townshend asked the audience: “Can anyone play the drums? – I mean somebody good.” The 19-year-old audience member Scot Halpin, who had not played drums in a year, ended up filling in for Moon for the rest of the concert.Moon was taken to hospital, and then had a day to recover before the next show at the Los Angeles Forum. At this show, he played at his normal strength. The remainder of the performances in the United States went much better, and it was clear that the group had started to become more comfortable with the use of backing tapes.
  • After a performance in Montreal, Canada, the band (except Daltrey, who went to bed early) trashed their hotel room and were arrested by federal law enforcement. Among other things, they rammed a marble table through a wall and destroyed an antique painting.

France tour

The tour continued in February 1974 with a short series of performances in France.

The final performance took place at Palais de Sports in Lyon on the 24th of February, 1974. This was to be the last time Quadrophenia was played as a stage piece with Moon, as he died in 1978 from an overdose of clomethiazole.

1996–1997 tour

In 1996-1997, Townshend, Daltrey and Entwistle performed Quadrophenia live again.

It started with a concert at Hyde Park, London in June 1996, where they performed at the Prince’s Trust “Masters of Music” benefit concert. The performance was not billed as the Who; it instead credited the three musicians individually. Phil Daniels portrayed both Jimmy and the Narrator, Gary Glitter the Godfather, Trevor MacDonald the newsreader, Adrian Edmondson the hotel bell boy, and Stephen Fry the hotel manager. Zak Starkey played the drums instead of Keith Moon. The rest of the musical lineup was comprised of Simon Townshend, David Gilmour (who also played the bus driver), Geoff Whitehorn, Johan “Rabbit” Bundrick, Jon Carin, Jody Linscott, Billy Nicholls, a four-person backing vocal section, and five brass players.

A bit of the “Quadrophenia curse” seemed to be at play this time as well, as Daltrey was struck in the face by Gary Glitter´s microphone stand during rehearsals and needed to wear an eyepatch for the concert.

After the Hyde Park concert, the group went on a US & UK tour, employing most of the same people. Edmondson was replaced by Billy Idol, and for the second half of the tour Simon Townshend replaced Gilmour and P.J. Proby replaced Glitter.

In July 1996, the group did six nightly shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City, for a combined audience of 85,000 people.

In 2005, recorded material from this tour was included in the release of Tommy and Quadrophenia Live.

2010-2017 live performances

  • On 30 March, 2010, the Who performed Quadrophenia at the Royal Albert Hall in support of the Teenage Cancer Trust, with guest appearances from Eddie Vedder (from Pearl Jam) and Tom Meighan (from Kasabian).
  • The Who did a “Quadrophenia and More” tour in the U.S. In 2012-2013. The group setup was Townshend, Daltrey, Zak Starkey on drums, and the bassist Pino Palladino (who had replaced Entwistle following his death in 2002), and they also utilized five additional musicians.When Starkey injured his wrist, Scott Devours replaced him for part of the tour.Video clips from the past were included in the performances, e.g. a 1974 clip of Moon singing Bell Boy and the 5:15 bass solo played by Entwistle in 2000.
  • The tour progressed to the UK in 2013, with Devours still being the drummer. The final performance in the UK was held at the Wembley Arena in July 2013.
  • In September 2017, Townshend embarked on a short tour named Classic Quadrophenia, alongside Billy Idol, Alfie Boe and an orchestra.