Pink Floyd: The band that Pete Townshend ditched The Who to see

Pete Townshend

The classic rock show was rather mild at the start of the 1960s. Even though acts like The Beatles had started to create a frenzy in audiences all over the world with their fantastic material, it took The Who things to the next level. It happened with Pete Townshend creating war onstage whenever he strapped on his guitar. He usually ends every show by smashing one of his guitars to pieces in front of the audience. While the band’s live concerts were unrivaled, Townshend believed that one group was doing it better than everyone else.

The Who, on the other hand, didn’t want to put on one of the largest spectacles of the period. Pete Townshend conceived the notion of smashing his guitar while working on their first concerts. He did so after accidentally breaking it when it went through a wall at one of his shows. It elicited a huge reaction when he ultimately put the instrument out of its suffering.

Townshend would even steal a few movements from the performers he had seen before him. He could do so when working on the beginnings of his theatrical repartee. He makes a move from Keith Richards to produce his famous windmill arm onstage. While The Who was an assault on the senses, Pink Floyd was hard at work laying the groundwork for the future of rock and roll.

While Floyd was not the first progressive rock band, Syd Barrett was captivated. The concept of bringing music to new heights captivated it. With the release of their debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, the band produced a psychedelic tapestry of sound that they would never duplicate again. They did so with Barrett gradually losing his mind while cutting the second album, A Saucerful of Secrets.

Although the trio could perform their material in the studio, it paled in comparison to the enormous live events they would put on. Floyd designed lavish graphics around the club scene, creating an atmosphere that transported the audience into outer space. The incorporation of numerous flashing lights left the listener desensitized once the music came on.

Townshend would later comment on the group’s ability to put on a live show. “A Pink Floyd gig is the only reason I ever missed a Who show. Even apart from car accidents or serious illness. On January 20, 1967, I left a Who show in Morecambe. I did so to accompany the legendary Eric Clapton to watch this person Syd Barrett play guitar with Pink Floyd. In February 1980, I traveled to Los Angeles to accompany film director Nicolas Roeg to view The Wall.”

However, Floyd had made considerable adjustments to their stage layout between the Barrett era and The Wall. Taking ideas from Pete Townshend’s rock opera Tommy, Roger Waters developed one of the most elaborate stage sets in rock history. He accomplished this by constructing a wall in front of the crowd. The magnificent spectacle concluded when the wall was taken down. While The Who and Pink Floyd are on opposite ends of the musical spectrum, the prog-rock titans grasped Townshend’s philosophy that music is about more than simply a catchy single.

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