Guide to British Music of the 1960s

 

The High Numbers

Biography | Discography | Web Links | Books

Vocals- Roger Daltrey, guitar- Pete Townshend, bass- John Entwhistle, drums- Doug Sandom

Pete Townshend's first group was The Confederates which included John Entwhistle on trumpet, Chris Sherwin on drums and Phil Rhodes on Clarinet. Townshend himself played banjo. Townshend and Entwhistle were later asked to join Roger Daltrey's band themselves The Detours. The Detours played a mix of country & western, Cliff Richard & the Shadows and chart hits. Townshend was at art school in Ealing by this time and, when Daltrey bought a van for the group to travel to gigs, Townshend painted the band's name on the side with an arrow leading out of the O.

Later the band changed its name to The Who on St Valentine's Day 1964 having heard that another band was called The Detours. After an audition with Fontana Records Doug Sandom was asked to leave the band as it was felt he was "too old". The band auditioned several drummers including Mitch Mitchell who later joined The Jimi Hendrix Experience. However, they found a new drummer, Keith Moon, after one of the regular Greenford gigs. Moon had previously been with surf band The Beachcombers.

Around this time the band met Pete Meaden. He helped them to understand that they needed an image. The "Mod" image seemed to fit. Townshend was already wearing some Mod clothes and the band's setlist was taking more of an R&B direction. With the Fontana Records deal, Meaden wrote two songs for the first single. Zoot Suit / I'm The Face was released on Fontana on 3 July 1964. These were recorded effectively live. I'm The Face is heavily based on Slim Harop's Got Live If You Want It while Zoot Suit is very similar to The Dynamics' Misery.

Meaden also persuaded the band that their name was too much of a gimmick and they changed it to The High Numbers. This reflected the Mod image that the group was acquiring. Both sides of the single borrowed heavily from existing records and probably did not do full justice to the sound that the band was developing. Around this time, Townshend accidentally hit the neck of his Rickenbacker guitar into the ceiling of the Railway Hotel in Harrow. The auto destructive element of the Townshend act had started with countless guitars smashed over the years.

Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp (brother of actor Terence Stamp) now came on the scene. They were looking to film a young band for a documentary they were making. The High Numbers were ideal. More than that they offered to manage the band. After paying Pete Meaden 200 to buy the band they persuaded Townshend, Daltrey, Entwhistle and Moon to change their name. They reverted to The Who.

The High Numbers' single as well as two "unreleased" tracks are available on The Who boxed set 30 Years of Maximum R&B.

Making Time Recommendation

  • I'm The Face / Zoot Suit (Single)

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