Fifty years ago today, “that deaf, dumb and blind kid” who scored immortality in “Pinball Wizard” was born when “Tommy” — The Who’s game-changing rock opera — was released on May 23, 1969.
The movie Tommy debuted on March 19, 1975, in Us. Premiered in UK the 25th. Ken Russell transformed the Who’s 1969 rock opera into one of cinema’s all-time most audacious and incendiary trips.
And the story of the boy who played “a mean pinball” still resonates a half-century later. In fact, The Who’s frontman, Roger Daltrey — who brought Tommy Walker to life on the double album and later in the star-studded 1975 movie — said it doesn’t take much of a stretch to imagine the character as he would be in 2019. (source New York Post- to read full click here)
“It obviously hit a nerve with the youth of America, that’s for sure, or the youth all over the world,” said Daltrey. “And I think that had a lot to do with the Cold War at the time. Obviously, in America, you had the Vietnam War. That was a generation fighting for its identification and fighting for its spiritual path.”
The Who’s other major rock opera, 1973’s Quadrophenia, differs from the fantastical surrealism of Tommy in that it tells the straightforward story of a restless and depressed young man in 1964 London at the time of the Mods vs. Rockers unrest.
The movie versions of each record follow suit: whereas Tommy is all Ken Russell’s brilliant visual fireworks and electrifying musical performances, Quadrophenia, directed by Franc Roddam, is cold, hard, and realistic, and, to be sure, no one breaks into song.