FROM YOU I GET THE STORY: Tracking spirituality through the three iterations of The Who’s Tommy
Harding, James M
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In the late 1960s, Pete Townshend, lead guitarist and composer for British rock band The Who, discovered the teachings of Indian spiritual leader Meher Baba. Inspired by these teachings he wrote the concept album for the first successful rock opera: Tommy. The smashing success of this album led to its adaptation into a major Hollywood film directed by Ken Russell in 1975 and its adaptation into a Broadway musical directed by Des McAnuff in 1992. This thesis examines how each adaptation contributes to the Westernization, generalization, and sanitization of the spirituality inherent to the original concept album as well as how these adaptations reflect the conflicting objectives of their lead artists.