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The Who Created An Explosion On 60s TV That Caused Injury And Panic


The Who were not a terribly political band. They were, however, loud. Really freaking loud. And this, in itself, was something of a political statement in 1967.

The Who had just scored their first big hit in the United States with “I Can See for Miles,” establishing themselves as a straight-ahead rock band at a time when the genre’s biggest acts (e.g. The Beatles and The Rolling Stones) were diving headlong into psychedelia. The Who would hit their heady concept album phase in due time, but for the moment all they wanted to do was raise a sonic ruckus.

And what better way to do this than to set off an explosion at the end of their performance on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour”?

In The Hollywood Reporter’s 2017 oral history of the show’s rocky three seasons on the air, the Smothers and their creative associates said The Who approached them about blowing up Keith Moon’s drum kit at the conclusion of “My Generation.” The Smothers signed off on the idea, but, during rehearsal, were mightily underwhelmed by The Who’s idea of an explosion. They wanted something bigger. So did The Who. But while they were both on the same page, they didn’t communicate this to each other.

According to producer-writer Allan Blye, “In dress rehearsal, it was a powder puff. So, I say to the special effects guy, ‘We have to make a bigger boom.’ Unbeknownst to us, The Who had told their own guy the same thing.”

What happened next made television history (and left guitarist Pete Townshend partially deaf).

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