Each and every Sunday night when the clock hits eight, The Strombo Show celebrates the spirit of radio over on CBC Radio 2. It's music for music lovers by music lovers. To kick off the program, we always tip our hats to the legends, the noisemakers and the ground-breakers in a segment that we like to call: Nod to the Gods.
On this day in 1965, Roger Daltrey was told by The Who's manager Kit Lambert to try sounding like a British kid on speed. With an aggressive tone, his John Lee Hooker-inspired performance resulted in one of the most popular songs of all time. It has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for "historical, artistic and significant" value - not bad for a track off the group's first album, 'My Generation'.
Pete Townshend allegedly wrote the song on a train after being inspired by the Queen Mother who is said to have had Townshend's 1935 Packard hearse towed off a street in Belgravia because she was offended by the look of it while on her daily drive through the neighbourhood. He was also inspired by Mose Allison's 'Young Man Blues' and clarified during an interview with Good Morning America in 1989, that the line "I hope I die before I get old" was about the idea of getting "very rich". Initially, the BBC refused to play the track because they didn't want to offend people who stutter, but once the song became more popular, things changed.
Two years later, their performance on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour was not only a defining moment in the comedy series, but one of the most iconic moments in rock'n'roll history. Keith Moon set his drums to explode after the performance, but the technical crew had already done so. It burned Townshend's hair and permanently damaged his hearing. Also, the performance is known for Moon's total disregard for the illusion of live performance as the band were playing along to a recorded track - common practice on the show - so while the rest of the band synched their movements to the music, he made no effort to keep time, even knocking his cymbal over at one point.
It has been covered by numerous artists; some of the most recognized and celebrated include Alice Cooper, Count Five, Gorky Park, Iron Maiden, Oasis, Green Day, Phish, Generation X, Soul Asylum, Sweet and Patti Smith, who used this track to close her sets from 1974 to 1978.
For further musical musings, new and old, join the collective for The Strombo Show on CBC Radio 2, every Sunday night at 8PM. And if you'd like to catch up or relisten, all of the episodes are archived on our Radio page.