When The Who Campaigned For Mick & Keith


This was the day in 1967 that The Who paid tribute to their friends the Rolling Stones by releasing covers of two of their songs — when they briefly hoped to help Mick Jagger and Keith Richards make bail, after they were jailed for charges that followed their infamous drugs bust.

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After a News of the World story prompted a police raid on Richards’ Redlands home in February that year, Mick’s trial on drugs charges had begun on June 27 in Chichester, and Keith’s the next day. June 29 brought the sensational verdict that both had been found guilty. Jagger was sentenced to three months for possession of amphetamines, and Richards to a year for allowing cannabis to be smoked in his home.

Meanwhile, as recorded in Bill Wyman’s ‘Rolling With The Stones’ book, with Richard Havers, “Spontaneous demonstrations broke out all over London. The Who’s Keith Moon, his girlfriend Kim and the band’s road manager John Wolfe drove in Keith’s Bentley to the West End and join the protesters.” Moon and his girlfriend were pictured (outside a Wimpy Bar), Kim holding a “Free Keith” banner, and The Who drummer one saying “Stop Pop Persecution!”

On June 30, they were freed on bail pending an appeal which would, a few weeks later, see the sentences quashed. But during the trial, with Stones fans and many in the establishment in unlikely unison over the harshness of the decision, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and Keith Moon hurriedly convened a studio session at De Lane Lea in London, on June 28.

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The decision was taken to record covers of ‘(This Could Be) The Last Time’ and ‘Under My Thumb’ to express their solidarity with their fellow stars. John Entwistle, still away on his honeymoon, gave his blessing for Townshend to play bass and overdub the parts. With ‘The Last Time’ on the A-side (and the label copy stating “in support of Mick Jagger and Keith Richard,” as he was then), the single was in shops just two days after recording, by which time Jagger and Richards were out on bail. The Who had intended to continue recording Stones songs for as long as Mick and Keith were in jail.

Even though The Who were coming off a substantial hit with ‘Pictures of Llly,’ which had reached No. 4 in the UK in May, the 45 was not a major success, peaking at No. 44. The big hit to emerge from the saga was the Stones’ own ‘We Love You,’ their thank you to their fans for their support, which opened to the sound of prison doors banging shut. Backed with ‘Dandelion,’ it spent most of September 1967 in the UK top ten, peaking at No, 8. By November, The Who were back in the top ten themselves, with ‘I Can See For Miles.’

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Here are the two Who covers and the Stones song, to evoke memories of this dramatic moment in British pop history.


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