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The Who Stateside Without Keith Moon

In September 1979, the band played their first US concerts with Kenney Jones behind the drumkit.

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The Who 1979 programme

On 10 and 11 September, 1979, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle got on stage in New Jersey, looked behind them and, for the first time ever in the States, they didn’t see Keith Moon. At the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, The Who played their first US concerts since Moon The Loon’s death the year before.

The band’s beloved drummer had died in September 1978, from an overdose of the pills he was taking to combat alcoholism. The very next day, his bandmates vowed to continue, and were in production with the Quadrophenia movie before the end of the month. In January 1979, they announced former Faces drummer Kenney Jones as Keith’s replacement, and in May, he joined Pete, Roger and John on stage at the Rainbow in London.

As Quadrophenia was released that summer, The Who played their biggest ever UK show, at Wembley Stadium. Then it was time to hit the road in the States for the Who Are You tour, which began in New Jersey, before five straight nights at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The Who Passaic Theatre

The gigs in Passaic mixed songs from the album they’d released just before Moon’s death, including the title track and hit single ‘Who Are You,’ alongside a host of Who favourites. At the 11 September show, they also played the new song ‘You’ve Got Rock ‘n’ Roll.’

The encore that night began with another Who Are You track, ‘Music Must Change,’ followed by their celebrated cover of the Eddie Cochran rock ‘n’ roll staple ‘Summertime Blues’ and versions of Bo Diddley’s ‘Road Runner,’ a snippet of ‘Pictures Of Lily,’ an unusual run at Free’s ‘Alright Now’ and finally, from deep in their blues roots, Jimmy Reed’s ‘Big Boss Man.’

“I loved playing with the new Who,” wrote Townshend in his autobiography Who I Am. “I was able to stretch out a lot more, play more single-note solos and my playing quickly got better. I was drinking on stage, but as long as I kept moving I’d stay in good shape.”

Follow the official The Who Best Of playlist.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Erik Scheibe

    September 11, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    You’ve Got Rock ‘n’ Roll.’???
    Has anyone ever heard of this?

  2. Bill Shoemaker

    September 12, 2014 at 8:58 am

    I don’t recall. For years I had a tape of one of those shows. It definitely had “All Right Now” and “A Trick of the Light” but I don’t remember a song called “You Got Rock And Roll,” unless someone was a little generous in assigning a title to some of the improvising they did.

    • pausextudusm

      September 12, 2014 at 5:57 pm

      Bill and Erik, many thanks for your contributions to the post. We’re also unable to find any further references to ‘You’ve Got Rock ‘n’ Roll’ in Who history. We suspect, like you, Bill, that it may be a title that’s been assigned to a bit of an encore jam that night in Passaic! If anyone else has any information about the song, we’d love to hear it.

  3. Brian

    June 29, 2019 at 4:12 am

    The song is actually referred to as THATS ROCK N ROLL. Ive heard the bootleg of the show. The song was really just a loose jam and honestly sounded quite unfinished.

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