The Who were beginning to enter the peak of their creativity in 1967 as they released three iconic records in the space of three years, a prolific spell which saw them become a household name in Britain. Despite their success on home soil, the band were still quite some distance from matching the global dominance that their contemporaries The Beatles had been rewarded with.
However, despite still being relatively unknown outside of the UK, there was one country that had taken The Who firmly into their hearts; Germany. The European nation was the only other territory that the band’s debut record, My Generation, had charted in two years previously.
The Beat Club was an institution in Germany, one that ran from 1965 an up until 1972. The live music programme, which was broadcast from Bremen, immediately caused hysteria among viewers with the countries adolescence falling in love with the rebellious nature of Beat Club. However, not everyone was on board with the groundbreaking programme as the older generation openly despising everything that the show represented—and they made sure to make their feelings abundantly clear.
The show, somewhat bizarrely hosted by the now-disgraced British radio DJ Dave Lee Travis, provided a platform to artists such as Black Sabbath, The Beach Boys, David Bowie, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead and many more legendary artists through its doors. However, The Who’s performance of ‘My Generation’ is arguably the high watermark of Beat Club’s tenure.
The Who had released the timeless anthem almost two years before their appearance but the track became a hit in Germany in the months that followed, charting at number six and it was only fair that they gave it an outing during their debut appearance on the show.
The song was written by Pete Townshend from a place of feeling like he didn’t belong in the world, penning it while taking a train journey from London to Southampton on May 21st, 1965. The feeling of being lost is an especially poignant one as Townshend was living a secretly gay life at this point in time. With homosexuality still being illegal in Britain for a further two years, it essentially meant that the songwriter general was committing a crime for something he had no control over and that left him feeling like he didn’t fit into society.
In a 1987 Rolling Stone magazine interview, Townshend explained: “‘My Generation’ was very much about trying to find a place in society. I was very, very lost. The band was young then. It was believed that its career would be incredibly brief.”
Watch The Who’s blistering version of ‘My Generation’ which captures Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, Keith Moon and John Entwistle deliver an electrifying rendition of the classic track.