Tommy exhibit at Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Wed Mar 16 18:24:56 CST 2005

Press release at:

'TOMMY: The Amazing Journey' Opens at the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
Wednesday March 16, 4:19 pm ET  
- Rock Hall displays Pete Townshend's
never-before-seen archives of the Who's concept album

CLEVELAND, March 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame and Museum is pleased to announce the new
exhibit "TOMMY: The Amazing Journey." The exhibit will
open on April 7, 2005 at the Cleveland music museum
and will remain until March 2006.
Tommy is one of the earliest and most important rock
operas. The iconic rock opera had many incarnations,
including an album, movie, soundtrack, a Broadway play
as well as an orchestral version and a ballet
interpretation. Conceived and primarily written by
Pete Townshend, the Who's critically revered concept
album, Tommy, was released in 1969.

March 18, 2005 marks the 30th anniversary of the
motion pictures version of Tommy, directed by Ken

When the album Tommy was released over 35 years ago,
the media divided in two distinctive groups. On one
side, critics labeled it "shattering" and
"remarkable." On the other side, some media viewed the
work as exploitative. The story of Tommy is one of a
handicapped child who is exploited and abused by
family members and others and goes on to become a
spiritual leader. This is an area that no pop album
had dared to tread before Tommy.

The controversy of Tommy led to the album being banned
by the BBC and various radio stations, an act that did
little to hurt its sales.

Richard Barnes wrote in the liner notes of the 1993
Tommy reissue, "Its story covers murder, trauma,
bullying, child molestation, sex, drugs, illusion,
delusion, altered consciousness, spiritual awakening,
religion, charlatanism, success, superstardom, faith,
betrayal, rejection, and pinball."

While Townshend did not intend for Tommy to be
autobiographical, he has said that in 1991 -- when the
Broadway show was released -- he realized it indeed

The album chronicles the story of a boy who becomes
deaf, dumb and blind after witnessing the murder of
his father. Through his mastery of pinball, he is
cured, elevated to prophet status and then turned on
by his followers. Without his major senses, Tommy is
left to feel everything through rhythms and

This examination of spirituality and self was a
massive success and hit Number 4 on the U.S. album
charts. The Who's subsequent tour included a full
performance of Tommy at each show. Ultimately, the
barrier-shattering piece was performed at several
major opera houses, including New York's Metropolitan
Opera House.

In 1975, director Ken Russell released his film
version of Tommy, starring the Who, Ann-Margaret,
Oliver Reed, and Jack Nicholson. The film also
featured appearances by Eric Clapton, Tina Turner and
Elton John. A Broadway musical version debuted in

"The Who are one of the great bands in rock and roll
history, and Tommy is one of their greatest works,"
said Jim Henke, the Museum's vice president of
exhibitions and curatorial affairs. "We have worked
closely with Pete Townshend, who created Tommy, and
the result is a comprehensive look at the first rock

The exhibition features Townshend's handwritten
manuscripts and production notes as well as costumes,
instruments, posters and other artifacts from the
numerous incarnations of Tommy.

Artifacts in the exhibit include:
-- Track Listing and Conceptual Notes, 1968
-- This handwritten manuscript reveals Pete
Townshend's evolving concept of the opera.
-- "Tommy Can You Hear Me/Go To the Mirror"
handwritten lyrics, 1968
-- UK Tour Concert Program, 1970
-- Roger Daltrey Suit from Ken Russell Tommy film,
-- Fillmore East Program, 1969
-- Ticket and brochure from Woodstock
-- Program from Theatre de Champs Alysses, a European
opera house where the Who performed Tommy.
-- A typed letter from Pete Townshend to the fan club,
Fall 1969
-- Posters for both Isle of Wight concerts, 1969 and
-- Letter from Pete Townshend to Ken Russell with
detailed casting proposals for the movie
-- Posters from 5 different countries for the movie
-- Poster for the Who, James Gang and James Taylor
performance at Public Hall, Cleveland, 1970

The Museum is open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m.
to 5:30 p.m. On Wednesdays the Museum is open until
9:00 p.m. Museum admission is $20.00 for adults,
$14.00 for seniors (60+), $11 for children (9-12) and
children under 8 and Museum members are free.

Source: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

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