Rarities-Packed Film Traces The Who’s ‘Journey’
Never-before-seen concert and archival footage is at the center of “Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who” and its companion film “Six Quick Ones,” due Nov. 6 on DVD via Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The movies were made with the cooperation of surviving members Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, who also contributed material from their personal archives.
“We decided the film was really about the journey to the top,” executive producer Nigel Sinclair tells Billboard.com. “You really see these four young people putting it together. Then, the band becomes successful and many things happen: some good and some bad. We discerned from it that the most interesting thing was the evolution of Pete and Roger’s relationship. The fact that these two are able to continue as the Who, it is almost like it was meant to be that way. Discovering, as we did from interviewing them, what the magic or their working partnership was, that was very exciting.”
When the project first got off the ground, original director Murray Lerner put out a request online for fan-shoot footage or rare clips. This yielded “quite a considerable amount of stuff that nobody had ever seen before,” Sinclair says. “I’d say almost half of the [clips] have never been seen before in any context.”
Sinclair is particularly excited about film shot by managers Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert in 1964, when the Who were still known as the High Numbers. “They shot a number of songs of the band playing in a hotel in London,” he says. “The film was lost for the ages, but three years ago, an old gentleman in Amsterdam was cleaning out his loft. His grandson knew this was what the Who used to call themselves, and they put it on and realized what it was.”
But taking possession of such disparate footage proved a bit of a logistical nightmare for the production team. “We had 834 separate items we had to clear in the past few months,” Sinclair says. “Our post-production specialist is now writing a PhD paper for NYU based on this project. It was unprecedented. It is really difficult to take these different formats and make them work.”
The film culminates with a clip of the Who performing “Tea & Theatre” earlier this year in California, a moment Sinclair says was “key to the storytelling. You take for granted how many partnerships have really survived in the art business. Simon ain’t with Garfunkel anymore. We find ourselves in the film reflecting on that and that song becomes very poetic and powerful.”
Elsewhere, the narrative is helped along by interviews with fans such as Sting, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, U2’s the Edge and Oasis’ Noel Gallagher. “For me, Edge’s comments about Pete’s guitar playing really revealed what is his sound and why does he sound so different,” Sinclair says.
Look for “Amazing Journey” to have a limited theatrical run in the United Kingdom later this year, as well as a handful of screenings in major U.S. markets.