Bowie and The Who

Sroundtable at Sroundtable at
Thu Aug 19 21:28:32 CDT 2004

In a message dated 8/19/2004 9:01:14 AM Central Daylight Time, 
thewho-request at writes:

> Mc:
> You are utterly wrong. First of all, Bowie was a Mod
> and a Who fan, his band opened for them early on.
> Second his writing tended toward concept albums (Ziggy
> Stardust, Diamond Dogs, Outside). Thirdly he certainly
> would have been a part of Tommy! If you knew ANYTHING
> about his writing, that would be obvious. Fourth he's
> a SF fan and that would have worked in regard to
> Lifehouse. Fifth, Quad would have been a slam
> dunk...try LISTENING to the man's music sometime, like
> for instance London Boys which is about the same
> subject as Quad!!!
> Bowie is the single artist I can point to who had
> about as much influence on Rock music as The Who. If
> he had been in the band, it would have been
> different...but not worse. And Townshend/Bowie
> collaborations might have been pretty incredible.
> For future reference, knowing your subject is always a
> good idea when you sit down to write about it.

Leave it to you to make sure a disagreement with me turns personal.  Thanks 
for all the sarcasm and thinly veiled insults the list has been without for the 
last couple of months.  I know plenty about Bowie, his music and songwriting 
and have listened to quite abit of it.  Know all about his conceptual ideas, 
etc.  You missed my point entirely (shocking, I know).  

IMHO Pete was able to write Tommy because of his individual freedom to do so 
as the lone (basically) songwriter of The Who.  With Bowie, I believe Tommy 
would have been something else entirely- perhaps not a rock opera but something 
more akin to Sgt. Pepper's- but even more weird than Tommy as it is.  Of 
course, it might have also gone down exactly the way my hypo described.  The guts 
of Tommy is the vision and inspiration of Townshend.  With Bowie in the mix it 
would have been some bizare Sgt. Pepper's like album- clearly not as 
revolutionary- or the whole idea would have broken down between Townshend and Bowie and 
we would have gotten an album with a few Tommy songs re-worked into radio 
hits along with some Bowie material.  

And Townshend has never been able to write music on any appreciable scale 
with others as it is.  Look at all the great friends he has in the industry- 
Clapton, McCartney, Jagger, Bowie, Elton, etc, etc- and he has never collaborated 
with them in regard to songwriting to any great degree.  He did some stuff 
with Ronnie Lane, I suppose, but that's the  exception.  Pete would not have 
accepted a significant contribution from Bowie on Tommy anyway because it would 
have disturbed his vision of the album.  Their collaboration might have been 
incredible, but I don't think so.  I think the whole thing would have imploded.

As for Quad and Lifehouse, again you missed my point.  Without Tommy, I don't 
think those other concepts would have materialized because Pete either would 
have been too discouraged over the Bowization of Tommy (or whatever album may 
have materialized), or the band wouldn't have made it out of the 60s at all, 
with John and Keith in Zeppelin and Pete and Bowie going solo.  And to be 
perfectly honest, the music of The Who wouldn't have been as "balls out" with 
Bowie, who is artsy and cerebral and wierd.  Roger brought the bravado and 
cock-strength to The Who that was such an integral part of their sound and stage act.  
Would Pete have been the insane live guitarist without Roger to compete with 
on stage?  Think about it.


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