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Thousands queue for The Who in Southampton in 1970
2:32pm Tuesday 26th June 2012 in Archives
By Lewis Wedgwood
POLITENESS and courtesy might not be synonymous with the wild excesses of rock music.
But back in October 1971 genteel British manners triumphed when Southampton residents became desperate for tickets to see legendary rockers The Who. As the Echo reported: “Nearly 1,000 rock fans formed an orderly queue outside Southampton University waiting patiently for tickets to a concert by The Who in the city.
Clive Fisher, the press officer for the Events Office, added: ‘Everyone has been extremely well behaved’.”
The Hampshire branch of The Who’s fanbase showed a dedication that puts 21st century music fans to shame. In contrast to conveniently buying tickets and albums online with a few keystrokes the hardy Who fans had to queue for hours in a long, snaking line.
“By the time the box office opened early this afternoon the queue stretched for almost a quarter of a mile. Some of the fans had slept outside the university overnight to make sure of their tickets. Even the rain did not deter them. They carried umbrellas and plastic bags as protection, while one small group wore paper hats ingeniously made out of past issues of the Echo.”
A box office spokesman told the Echo: “I reckon there would have been many more but today is the first day of term and a lot are attending lectures.“ This was the zenith of the band’s career: they had just returned from their biggest US tour in July and August that year and their instrument- destroying antics had helped earn them the unofficial nickname ‘The World’s Greatest Live Rock’n’Roll band’.
This was also the year of their only UK number 1 album, Who’s Next, and their October 1971 tour of the UK, of which this Southampton date was their opening gig.
They arrived in the city fresh from headlining a benefit gig for Bangladesh at The Oval, attended by 35,000 fans.
But it wasn’t all camaraderie and community spirit when they visited.
Days before the concert, the Echo disclosed: “Large quantities of forged tickets are in circulation.
The organisers are now faced with a big headache – sorting out the real tickets when the fans arrive, to make sure that those fans with genuine tickets get into the concert.”