The interweb's gone viral with excoriations of The Who's appearance at the Super Bowl 2.7.10, hoisting them on their own petard of "'hope I die before I get old." When my niece's friends tweeted that the band reminded them of their grandparents dancing inappropriately at a party, I countered with "...only if your grandparents wrote all the music for that party."
Elsewhere, someone no doubt my age suggested "Give them their victory lap already" in response to a fairly personal blog about same (considering he has been friends with Pete) http://johnmendelssohn.blogspot.com/2010/02/so-sad-about-us.html
Above, here's my classic (unPhotoShopped) (we didn't have those contraptions then) shot of all four original members of The Who in 1970, end of their Tommy tour, in all their extravagant, powerful, savage glory. I didn't feel compelled to go find my more recent shot of Townshend playing live, because he comes off exactly the same in intensity, windmill arms akimbo mid-power chord. Except he's not leaping, has far less head hair and two of his buds are no longer with us. So what are we to do about the most venal enemy of rock and roll, the passage of time?
A: we should be glad when there's something to see and hear. My two aligned shots above are Dick Dale (King of the Surf Guitar) and the Del-tones at the first Surf Revival at the Hollywood Palladium, 1973, an interesting intersection of surf and original era Glam styles at the time. Observant readers will note the presence of Mr. Dale atop the band's piano, with the second photo recording his daring leap from same. My third photo was shot twenty-one years later at the Santa Monica Pier in 1994. Response to a press/photo pass invite to see the sexagenarian play outside at the beach at night? "Misirlou" from "Pulp Fiction" aloud? You betcha! despite little likelihood that that he'd leap tall pianos in a single bound again. I wanted the sound, even if time had abridged the fury. Oh, and by the way, my lost-in-my-files photo of Pete Townshend looks remarkably like the latter day one of Dale, except right-handed.
It seems the loudest protesters are intolerant of change, with the terrified vain and the unscarred young at the forefront. We shouldn't have one demographic banning another, even if it's topsy turvy to whichever generation feels slighted. The Stooges reunion with James Williamson in Brazil last November sounded rock hard, balls-out terrific, even if the band is no longer twenty and prone to physically assaulting itself for the audience's entertainment and delight. They play way better than any of today's twenty-year-olds! (or thirty-year-olds, forty-orfifty-year-olds.)
I myself have no qualms about the process except for the severe physical pain from multiple damage (one copes.) It's the natural order. But it's practically against the law to reveal one's true age in Hollywood so I don't, since I want to continue working. As artists indeed change, improve and stay fresh over their lifespan, one should bestow upon the artist himself or herself the same tolerance of latitude. But that's only in Cloud Cuckoo Land.
Here on Earth, consider my two fashion photos below as a pop quiz in The Meaning of Life, and assessment thereof. What do they have in common, besides the fact that I shot both of them in exchange for free clothing from their respective fashion designers, the first photo actually depicting one, Laure Mire? A: they are both very, very attractive females, albeit at very different stages of life, both having honed their personal styles to look their best as models and beyond in life. When all of us accept that answer, then rockstars won't seem to be embarrassing themselves like dancing grandparents.
all photographs (C) 2010 Heather Harris. All Rights Reserved.