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The Who Announce ‘Sensation: The Story of Tommy’ DVD

The Who, 'Tommy'

One of the Who‘s rock masterpieces is getting the documentary treatment this spring.

Eagle Rock Entertainment has announced the March 11 release of ‘Sensation: The Story of Tommy,’ a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the 1969 double-LP that took the band from the verge of breaking up to taking the world by storm.

Guitarist and principal songwriter Pete Townshend had been struggling at a creative crossroads for some time during the months leading up to ‘Tommy,’ trying to maintain the band’s success while taking rock to what he viewed as its necessary next level. “I’m worried because once pop was progressing and now it’s static,” he lamented during a 1967 Melody Maker interview. “The 13-year-old kids who want to dance have to go to their local groups who play last year’s Beatles hits because they can’t play today’s music…They are good pop groups who go out and entertain, but who will they turn to when they want to hear something better? I think they might go into blues, or modern jazz or even — dreadful thought — traditional jazz.”

Townshend alluded to a major Who project during a 1967 interview with Crawdaddy!, saying, “The idea we’ve got will answer all the problems. The group will be able to do what they like. I can bring out an opera day if I want to, or conduct at the opera house, and they would all be tremendous successes because of this little secret.”

His words proved prophetic, as ‘Tommy’ went on to sell more than 20 million copies, spawn stage and theatrical adaptations, and enjoy induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. While it’s certainly far from alone in terms of the band’s critical and/or commercial successes, it’s gone on to define the peak possibilities of the much-maligned ‘rock opera.’ “I wanted it to be a big step in terms of rock and roll and in terms of Who history and in terms of just what we’ve been doing,” Townshend told Crawdaddy! in 1969, and as the album approaches its 45th anniversary, it would be impossible to argue that he didn’t achieve those goals.

Made with the cooperation of the band, ‘Sensation: The Story of Tommy’ features interviews with Townshend and Roger Daltrey, archival interviews with John Entwistle, and contributions from engineer Bob Pridden and designer Mike McInnerney, as well as others involved in the album’s creation and pundits who weigh in on the record’s legacy.

Next: Top 10 Who Songs

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