‘I Can See For Miles’: The Who Finally Go The Distance To US Top Ten
Two and a half years after their first UK Top 10 hit, the band made the Hot 100 with what became their only US equivalent, ‘I Can See For Miles.’
Fans of The Who, try this one: what was it that the band achieved in Britain in the spring of 1965, that it took them two and a half years longer to achieve in America? The answer is have a Top 10 single, which they finally enjoyed on the Hot 100 of November 25, 1967. The song in question was “I Can See For Miles,” which had entered the US chart on October 14.
The Who reached the Top 10 in their own country with their first hit single, when “I Can’t Explain” climbed to No.8 in April 1965. That reached a meagre No.93 in the US, and three more chart singles in the next two years hardly tore up any trees, either. “My Generation” inexplicably petered out at No.74, “Happy Jack” at least gave them a Top 40 entry by reaching No.24, and “Pictures Of Lily” topped out at No.51.
A big pressing and a rush release
Billboard’s September 30 1967 issue reported that “I Can See For Miles’” was said to have one of Decca’s largest advance pressings. The single was rush-released in the US to capitalize on the infamous performance of it by The Who on the Smothers Brothers’ CBS network TV show.
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The song entered the Hot 100 at No.72 (one place below Elvis Presley’s “Big Boss Man”) and made steady progress, hitting the Top 10 on the November 18 chart and, a week later, spending the first of two weeks at No.9. It was listed in Billboard’s year-end issue as the 96th biggest hit of the year; in Rolling Stone’s 2004 list of the 500 greatest songs of all time, “Miles” came in at No.258.
The most remarkable thing about the story, though, is that The Who have never returned to the Top 10 of the Hot 100 – and the single that came closest is one that wasn’t a chart record at all in the UK: “See Me Feel Me,” which reached No.12 in 1970.
Buy or stream “I Can See For Miles” on the Who Hits 50! compilation.
November 26, 2014 at 12:54 pm
Their first contract through Shel Talmy was American Decca . Their first single as the Who was released by Brunswick, which was American Decca’s distributor in UK. However, Decca in USA had never tried seriously to promote the Who in USA. Still there was local phenomenon, in Detroit, whatever the reasons were. Basically Americans didn’t know the Who, till Chris Stamp went to USA with his brother Terence’s cooperation and somehow got the contract of their first gig at Marley the K. Still the second visit was as a support band for Herman’s Hermits, though it worked well for them to show their power, but they had wait till Frank Barsalona was impressed and seriously move forward for them.
November 25, 2015 at 6:16 pm
I suspected, and it was confirmed by a top DJ at WTAC in Flint Michigan, just few miles north of Detroit, WTAC was the first AM station in the USA to play The Who.