25 Oct The Who Play Southsea – The Power of Music

Rikki Farr, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Audio Design Experts, Inc. and RIVA Audio, tells a story of booking The Who at the Savoy Ballroom in Southsea, England in 1965. He talks about risking financial ruin to help The Who play in larger venues, and what happens when it pours rain on the night of the concert…

“Yeah! I can see we are going to have one hell of a great festival! I really do feel that! We’re going to get started! HA!”

And you know, Roger who was not a great singer. This is a guy who taught himself how to be a great rock singer. And Pete pushed him to be a great singer. And, you know, when he lets out the primal screams that he does in his songs and…and…and it’s just a release. And these are guys from Shepard’s Bush who had nothing. I mean Roger’s father was a, he made pots, he was a pot maker, tin pot guy. Roger made his own guitar. He used to drive, go by the music store down in Shepard’s Bush and look at these guitars and dream. And he made his own, and it played. And now he has a house full of them. And a more wonderful human being you couldn’t hope to meet. I love the man. Can I tell you a story they just had anyway, anywhere, anyhow, out on decker. And I said “Why don’t we go down to the Southsea, to the big ballroom there and put on a show?” Cause they’d been in the clubs. They’d been playing all the clubs. The Ricky Tick, The Core Daddy, The Marquee, they were playing the The Twisted Wheel, The Boat Club. They were playing all the clubs. I said, “Look! I’ll give you a $100 pounds. I can’t afford anymore. I gotta book the whole…” That was a lot of money than in those days.

And down the south of England in the winter, you can have some rainstorms. Where you think, “It’s biblical!” Hahahahaha! I mean, I went…”Oh no!” I mean even the windshield wipers couldn’t even get rid of it. And I thought “Oh! $100 pounds! I’m ruined!” And I drove down, and I drove down across a couple of bridge. Down to Southsea esplanade and around the corner where the Southsea ballroom was. The rain was coming down. It was like an Ingrid Bergman film. It was just like, it was nothing. It was all shades of gray. And I’m looking, and there alongside the building, all huddled up, huddled up, all the way, all the way around the building and all around the corner. In two’s, under newspapers, bags, umbrellas were hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people. I just…then I realized the power of music. You wouldn’t go out for a loaf of bread in that weather. You wouldn’t feed yourself in that weather, but you’ll stand in that weather to hear The Who play their new record. And I let everybody in early and we had all the coats hanging up to dry. And we let them in and the people didn’t like it. “What are you doing?!” I said, “These are the people. I’m letting them in early.” Even with the crew was setting up the sound and the lighting, which was very rudimentary in those days.

And that was a night to remember. The Who felt it. They felt that this was their…this is the night that they lost their virginity. This is when they went from training wheels onto a big stage in front of thousands of people. And you just saw them…”We were born to do this”. No more in a cloud with a low ceiling. “We were born to do this” and you saw them just flower. I felt an energy, I mean I had goose bumps all through the night. And the people, I mean the people roared as ONE. And that’s when I knew… I just had to that for the rest of my life. And I have done. I’ve heard that roar many, many times. And it’s never less thrilling. It’s never met, it’s never…You can never take it for granted. You, you, it comes at you, you earn it, you deserve it, and that’s why I said earlier, “Um, I owe, I owe everything to the music, business”. Business, the music world. huh, it owes me nothing. I’ve got more to do.”

Rikki Farr
Chairman & Chief Creative Officer