Tommy is the fourth album by English rock band The Who, released by Track Records and Polydor Records in the United Kingdom and Decca Records/MCA in the United States. A double album telling a loose story about a "deaf, dumb and blind boy" who becomes the leader of a messianic movement, Tommy was the first musical work to be billed overtly as a rock opera. Released in 1969, the album was mostly composed by Pete Townshend. In 1998 it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for "historical, artistic and significant value". It has sold over 20 million copies worldwide.
On 9 December 1972, entrepreneur Lou Reizner presented a concert version of Tommy at the Rainbow Theatre, London. There were two performances that took place on the same evening. The concerts featured the Who, plus a guest cast, backed by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Measham. The concerts were held to promote the release of Reizner's new studio recording of this symphonic version of Tommy, which was released on Ode Records
Both in concert and on record, major singing roles were performed by leading pop and rock stars of the day – Graham Bell, Maggie Bell, Sandy Denny, Steve Winwood, Rod Stewart, Richie Havens, and Ringo Starr. Pete Townshend also plays a bit of guitar, but otherwise the music is predominantly orchestral. Richard Harris sang-talked the role of the specialist on the record, but he was replaced by Peter Sellers for the stage production, which was repeated with a substantially different cast including David Essex, Elkie Brooks, Marsha Hunt, Vivian Stanshall, Roy Wood, and Jon Pertwee on 13 and 14 December 1973.
The studio version of the orchestral Tommy was issued in boxed-set format. It featuring original artwork and photography, which used a pinball as its main motif, was designed by Tom Wilkes and Craig Braun and won the Best Album Package Grammy in 1974.
The orchestral version was also performed twice in Australia in March and April 1973, to thousands at open air venues (Melbourne's Myer Music Bowl and Sydney's Randwick Racecourse). Keith Moon appeared as Uncle Ernie (in Melbourne only), Graham Bell as the Narrator, with local stars Daryl Braithwaite (as Tommy), Billy Thorpe, Doug Parkinson, Wendy Saddington, Jim Keays, Broderick Smith, Colleen Hewett, Linda George, Ross Wilson, Bobby Bright, Ian Meldrum (as Uncle Ernie in Sydney), and a full orchestra. The Melbourne concert was videotaped, then televised by Channel 7 on 13 April 1973.
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