The Who: 50 Years on the Magic Bus (Photo Essay)

The Who: 50 Years on the Magic Bus (Photo Essay)


The Who hit 50 this year and in honor of their golden anniversary tour, we thought we’d put together a sites related to their history in the United States.

  • RKO 58th Street Theater – 154 East 58th Street NY, NY

first show

On March 25th, 1967, the Who played their very first American shows at the old RKO 58th St. Theater in New York City. They played there for a full week, playing between two and three shows per day, as part of a Murray the K revue which also featured Cream, Smokey Robinson, Mitch Ryder and Wilson Pickett among others. The theater was demolished a couple of years later.

  • Monterey Pop Festival – Monterey County Fairgrounds 2004 Fairgrounds Road (off Fremont Street, near Highway 1) Monterey, California


Held in Monterey, California on June 16–18, 1967, the Monterey Pop Festival was the first commercial American rock festival. Dunhill Records executive Lou Adler and John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas organized the festival around the concept of the successful Monterey Jazz Festival and staged it at that festival’s site.

Featuring the first major American appearances of Jimi Hendrix, and the Who, it also introduced Janis Joplin to a large audience.

  • Flint Holiday Inn (now a Days Inn) – 2207 West Bristol Road Flint, Michigan

keith moon hotel

On August 23, 1967, Who drummer Keith Moon celebrated his 20th birthday. That night, the band had opened for Herman’s Hermits at Atwood Stadium, a Flint high school football field.

Afterwards, everyone returned to the hotel to celebrate Moon’s birthday and the rest is rock and roll history. Moon emptied fire extinguishers, jumped naked into the motel’s pool, threw food all over the place, and finally drove a Lincoln Continental into the same pool.

After spending the night at a dentist (who couldn’t repair Moon’s newly broken teeth—due to the amount of booze in his system he couldn’t administer anesthesia), Moon joined his band in leaving Flint the next day. The tab for the “party” came to almost $40,000. And it’s the last time the band was ever allowed to stay at a Holiday Inn.

  • Stage 43 – CBS Television City 7800 Beverly Boulevard Los Angeles, California

smothers brothers

On September 15, 1967, Keith Moon affixed explosives in his drums for The Who’s appearance on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. At the end of their second song (lip-synching to a live version of “My Generation”), Moon ignited his drums, causing a ferocious explosion which is what originally impaired guitarist Pete Townsend’s hearing. Game shows use the stage today.

  • Woodstock – Hurd and West Shore Roads, outside Bethel, New York


A concrete marker sits at the spot where the stage stood for the original, legendary Woodstock “Music and Art Fair,” three days of peace and love that took place on August 15–17, 1969 at Max Yasgur’s farm.

This seminal event was documented both on film and record. Woodstock festivals in the 1990s were held in the nearby town of Saugerties on the Winston Farm at the intersection of Routes 212 and 32. Among the performers were: The Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills, & Nash, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Santana, Sly & The Family Stone, Neil Young (Young performed a few songs with Crosby, Stills, & Nash and later joined the group) and of course, the Who.

  • Cow Palace – Geneva Boulevard Daly City, California


During a November 20, 1973 concert here, Keith Moon collapsed onstage during the song Won’t Get Fooled Again. The roadies carried him backstage into the dressing room, where he was placed in a cold shower and brought to. After a 30-minute delay, Moon was unable to continue playing, and in fact was taken to a local hospital.

Pete Townsend took the microphone and said, ”Hey, can anybody out there play drums? I mean good. Any takers come up here onstage.” Scott Halpin, a 19-year-old, made his way to the stage and took over. Townsend introduced him, called for the song Naked Eye, and they were off. The Who ran through two other songs, Magic Bus and My Generation before finishing the set with the substitute drummer.

  • 116th Street and Morningside Drive – Morningside Heights, NY


The Who posed here against the Carl Schurz monument for the cover of 1979’s, The Kids Are Alright.

  • Riverfront Coliseum – 100 Broadway Cincinnati, Ohio


Eleven people tragically died here at a 1979 Who concert during the band’s first tour after Keith Moon’s death some three months earlier. The fans were trampled in a stampede that developed when they were trying to reach unreserved, “festival” seating. An episode of the TV show WKRP in Cincinnati later made the incident a focal point of one of its shows.

The popular video for the 1982 video for Eminence Front was shot just outside Washington D.C. at the Capitol Center in Landover Maryland, which was demolished in 2002.

  • Hard Rock Hotel – 4455 Paradise Road Las Vegas, Nevada

hard rock

John Entwistle, the quiet, rock steady bassist (and co-founder) of The Who died here of an apparent heart attack on June 27, 2002. He was just 57.

Entwistle was in Vegas for an exhibit of his artwork, which was to be followed by a Who performance at the Joint, on June 28th, the opening night of the group’s U.S. tour. “The Ox” as he was nicknamed contributed tracks to The Who including Boris the Spider and Whiskey Man.

He also had a prolific solo career in the early-1970’s, releasing Smash Your Head Against the Wall in 1971, which was quickly followed by Whistle Rhymes a year later and John Entwistle’s Rigor Mortis Sets In (1973), Mad Dog (1975) and Too Late the Hero (1981). Entwistle’s final release was 1999’s live album, Left for Live.

Today, the hotel has yet to reveal the exact room where he passed, as to not attract undue attention by fans of Entwistle.

One Response to "The Who: 50 Years on the Magic Bus (Photo Essay)"

  1. Katy Moon   April 5, 2016 at 9:32 am

    Keith Moon was actually celebrating his 21st birthday at the Flint, Michigan Holiday Inn, not his 20th. He was born on August 23, 1946.


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