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Tommy isn’t about Pinball, but about impressing rock journalists and making money.

November 26, 2010


Pinball Wizard is a great song and probably did more for pinball than anything since the invention of the flipper. Still, if I have to hear it again I’ll probably punch a nun.

You see every casual player and I mean EVERY SINGLE CASUAL PLAYER who walks into the Pacific Pinball Museum just has to put this on the jukebox no less than forty three times.  Finally PPM took it out for awhile.  And then every casual player and I mean EVERY SINGLE CASUAL PLAYER now asks “how come a place like this doesn’t have Pinball Wizard on the jukebox?  That’s so lame.  How come?  Huh?”

The only solution I think is for PPM to take a jukebox and fill it with nothing but versions of Pinball Wizard (including mixes, covers by crappy bar bands, foreign language versions, etc), but unlike all their other jukeboxes, which are set on free play, charge a buck a song. This is one of those “can’t miss” ideas.

But I digress.  What I’m certain of is that not one of those folks knows that Tommy, the Who’s rock opera, wasn’t about pinball, at least not at first.

From Amazing Journey: The Life of Pete Townshend, by Mark Wilkerson

From The Who and the Making of Tommy, by Nigel Cawthorne:

A somewhat different version of how it went down, but most accounts agree that Nik Cohn’s influence was the primary driver of making Tommy about a “pinball wizard”.

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