1970: It was the decade of the supergroup and The Who was one of the hottest bands on the scene. Their popularity had soared rapidly throughout the 60s, with hits including My Generation and Teenage Wasteland encapsulating the spirit of the revolutionary era.
Following a triuphant tour of North America, The Who played a series of gigs at Student Unions across the UK. At at a time when good venues were scarce, the universities were the places that everyone wanted to play. As Pete Townshend remarked “If the pirate radio stations drove the first wave of rock, then universities drove the second”.
Around the same time, the band also came up with the idea of releasing a live album. They couldn’t be bothered to trawl through the recordings from the US tour so they decided to record the Leeds and Hull gigs and release the best. The Hull recording was unusable, because the cable connecting the bass guitar to the tape recorder didn’t work. That left Leeds.
The three-hour concert took place on Valentine’s day 1970. Students queued for hours to get a ticket and many who failed took to the roof of the building that evening to hear and feel the music.
Townshend joked: “We decided before that we were going to put it out whatever. It was lucky it was good”.
As it turned out the recording was more than good: it was phenomenal and would become one of the most successful live albums of all time.
Roger Daltrey said: “Live at Leeds was perfect because it was so
simple, it was the raw band!”