The Who: Pete Townshend interview, 12/14/82. The first “Farewell Tour”

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One of our biggest events in 1982 was buying out the Who’s two Richfield Coliseum concerts on December 13 and 14.  The tour was billed as the band’s farewell – as every subsequent Who reunion tour has been – and we got exclusive local ownership by putting up the guarantee and all costs in advance.

The two Cleveland shows were the final U.S. dates of their North American tour.  Schlitz Beer was the tour’s national sponsor.

Over the years, the Who, especially Pete Townshend, made many friends in the Greater Cleveland area. Among them was Joe Walsh, who he met when Walsh was guitarist for the locally-based James Gang.

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The Who was touring in support of their Face Dances album, billed as their final studio album. In reality, it would be their last studio album for twenty-four years.

Earlier that year, we premiered the entire Face Dances album on-air over a week before its official release, which landed us a cease and desist telegram from their label, Warner Bros.

The two concerts sold out in record time, and surveys at a number of ticket sales locations showed that more than 99 percent of the ti9cket buyers heard the concert announcement on WMMS. 

The official tour name, which had to be used on all advertising, was WMMS 100.7 FM presents The Who

We allowed other radio stations to buy tickets for giveaways, but they all had WMMS imprinted on them, and any alteration, such as running a marker streak over our call letters, made them null and void.  Best of all, anyone using a check to buy tickets had to make it out to WMMS.

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Pete Townshend did two interviews with WMMS.  The first, before the first show, with Dia, and the second, after-concert, with Kid Leo.  Both Dia’s and Kid Leo’s interviews were lost in the WMMS archives purge – but thanks to J.D. Kunes, we have an on-air broadcast copy of Pete Townshend’s interview with Leo. 

According to notes I have, with the exception of WGCL, we did allow other radio stations access to the band for interviews – but no IDs.

Three nights after the second show, WGCL picked up the “farewell” broadcast of the Who’s final North American show in Toronto that we passed on, because it would’ve cost us $2,000 that I couldn’t justify. Instead, we did another Friday Night Live feature – where we played eight hours of excerpts from our WMMS concert archives – and also threw in a previously unreleased concert Led Zeppelin did for the BBC.  It blew away WGCL’s Who concert broadcast, which was riddled with unexpected engineering problems from a hastily put-together ad hoc network of U.S. and Canadian stations.

More on the Who’s 1982 Farewell Concert can be found on Chapter 22 in The Buzzard

Special thanks to radio historian Jim Davison for the music editing.

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2 Responses to “The Who: Pete Townshend interview, 12/14/82. The first “Farewell Tour””

  1. Jim Davison Says:

    I still get chills thinking about the times WMMS aired for the first time “New Music” with an exclusive cut…like a cut from the Who’s album “Face Dances”, then running out to the record store to buy a copy, I miss those days of “hearing it first on WMMS”, then even checking out Record Exchange in Warrensville Hts. to see if they got a copy in yet. Those were great days of Rock and Roll, and “World Premier Exclusives”

  2. Jeff Altomari Says:

    Wasn’t the last tour in 1982 in support of the Album “It’s Hard”? Face Dances was released in 1981. The sticker up to has the It’s hard cover.

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