On this day in music history: May 23, 1969 - “Tommy”, the fourth studio album by The Who is released. Produced by Kit Lambert, it is recorded at IBC Studios in London from September 19, 1968 - March 7, 1969. The twenty four track double album is a rock opera composed by Pete Townshend (with contributions from John Entwistle and Keith Moon) about a deaf, blind and mute boy who becomes the leader of a messianic movement, whose followers eventually turn on him in the end. Townshend takes inspiration from the teachings of Indian mystic Meher Baba, and the spiritual enlightenment he has found during the period he begins composing the songs. Musically, it is more sophisticated and complex than anything that the band has previously attempted, augmenting their traditional instrumentation with horns, keyboards, orchestral percussion, and intricate vocal harmonies. Recording sessions begin in the Fall of 1968, though they are constantly interrupted as the bands then perilous financial state forces them to go on the road to pay the bills. The original LP release is packaged in a tri-fold jacket with cover artwork by pop artist Mike McInnerney, also being packaged with a booklet containing the song lyrics. In the US, “Tommy” performs decently during its initial release. The band mounts a tour in support of the album, performing the work in its entirety, including a now legendary performance at the New York Metropolitan Opera House. It is during and after that tour that the album really takes off stateside. Following the concert at The Met, the buzz created by the performance, renews interest in the album, and drives it back up the charts to a new peak in the Summer and Fall of 1970. As a result, “Tommy” sells more than triple its initial US sales. It is regarded as a watershed moment in the bands history, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest rock albums of all time. It spins off three singles including “Pinball Wizard” (#4 UK, #19 US Pop), “I’m Free” (#37 US Pop) and “See Me, Feel Me” (#12 US Pop). First released on CD in 1989, it is remastered and reissued in 1996 and again in 2003 as a two disc Deluxe Edition Hybrid SACD. The first disc contains the full album with the original stereo mix and a new 5.1 surround mix. The second disc contains outtakes and demos. In 2013, it is reissued as a three CD + Blu-ray disc Super Deluxe Edition. The CD’s are newly remastered with more outtakes, an entire disc featuring the album performed live in its entirety. The Blu-ray features stereo and 5.1 surround mixes. The US release featuring two discs, containing the stereo album and the live bootleg album. Long out of print on vinyl, it is reissued in Europe in 2013 and in the US in 2014. “Tommy” peaks at number two on the UK album chart, number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA. “Tommy” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1998.
Then I’m not surprised that Panic! At The Disco came from the lyrics of “Panic” by Name Taken (Panic at the disco/Sat back and took it slow).
Mikey Way used to work at a Barnes & Noble. While stacking books during his shift, he saw a book by Irvine Welsh called Five Tales Of Chemical Romance. He wrote the title down and showed it to his brother Gerard after he came home. Gerard agreed with the name for the band - he just added “My” to make it personal.
While performing for the first time, Fall Out Boy was nameless at that time. The band asked the audience to give them name suggestions. One of the audience yelled out “Fallout Boy”, who is the sidekick of Radioactive Man in The Simpsons. The name stuck.
Green Day is actually a slang for someone who does nothing but smoke marijuana all day.
AC/DC was an acronym for “Alternating Current/Direct Current” on a electric sewing machine. Kinda fits the rhythm of the band if you think about it.
Black Veil Brides is a Roman Catholic term used to describe a woman who gives up her pleasures after getting married in a church so she could devote her life to God. Since marriage is the happiest moment of one’s life, the opposite of it is be having to attending a beloved’s funeral.
Imagine Dragons is an anagram of letters from different words. The band kept a secret of revealing the words.
Joy Division is the name of a prostitution wing of a Nazi concentration camp from the novel The House of Dolls.
Avenged Sevenfold was mentioned in Genesis 4:24; “If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, Truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.”
Coldplay was originally called “Starfish”. They renamed themselves after another friend’s band, who had named themselves after a book of collected poems, Child’s Reflections: Cold Play.
The Beatles misspelled their name to describe their music “beat”.
Nirvana is a term of Buddhism for a person who succeeds into transcending the human suffering and rebirth through many spiritual practices and meditation.
Linkin Park is the change of name of Lincoln Park, the same park where Chester used to drive past every day for band practice.
Pierce The Veil was a social term that Vic learned in his Sociology class. According to his professor, “piercing the veil” is a fancy term for cutting the root of a problem before it influences you.
Twenty One Pilots got its name when Tyler was in theatre class. The play he was studying was All My Sons which involved the main character allowing the flight of various planes after finding faulty parts. Due to his actions, the protagonist becomes responsible for the deaths of 21 pilots.
There are a couple reasons how The Who got its name. The most popular was that Pete Townshead’s grandmother often called popular bands “The Who?” due to her impaired hearing.
Of Mice & Men named themselves after the novel by John Steinback.
Paramore is a respelling of paramour which means “secret lover”.
Iron Maiden is the name of a torture device.
Foo Fighters were used by the Allies during the WWII to describe UFOs.
Evanescence means a disappearance/dissipation like vapor. The band chose this as they find it as the description of the temporal nature of life.
Asking Alexandria was named after Alexander the Great.
“All Time Low”was mentioned in the song “Head On Collision” by New Found Glory.
Led Zeppelin refers to the Hindenburg disaster. Before the band was formed, Keith Moon and John Entwistle made a joke of how a supergroup containing themselves, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck would be a “lead balloon”, a British idiom for disastrous results.
Muse originates from the fact that the bandmates heard someone from their hometown suggested that a muse is hovering Teignmouth, England to explain why many of the town’s populace are becoming members of band.
The Misfits is the name of the 1961 film.
Yes, there are some bands whose names are inventive and original but seriously. There are many musical groups that I can count whose names come from something. So if you say any band names are just “made-up”, I dare you to do some research like the members did before you could say it right in my face.