NEW YORK -- Quadrophenia didn't go so well for the Who the first time around.
The band's second rock opera wasn't initially as popular as its first, Tommy. Its plot about the British Mods' rebellion against mainstream English society didn't really translate on this side of the pond.
On the opening night of its American tour, drummer Keith Moon collapsed onstage and guitarist Pete Townshend wrote in his recent autobiography, Who I Am, the tour included "some of the most shameful performances in our career onstage."
The surviving members of the Who -- Townshend and singer Roger Daltrey -- have decided to clear that up before Quadrophenia celebrates its 40th anniversary, with a new documentary, Quadrophenia: Can You See the Real Me?, and a new tour playing the rock opera in its entirety.
Townshend says the 1979 movie version of Quadrophenia, which included a young Sting in its cast, may have helped draw fans into the work as much as the songs, which include Who classics Love, Reign O'er Me, The Real Me and 5:15.
"In 1972, I was 28, writing about London and Brighton in 1963 and 1964 when the band was just starting," Townshend says in a statement. "I was still young enough to remember how it felt to be 16 or 17 and at war with my parents, bosses and authority. I could still remember that feeling of struggling to fit in, something that happened to me when I was even younger, around 14, and everyone around me seemed to have got their lives on track. This is such a universal experience for young people that it has echoed."
Townshend says performing the finale, Love, Reign O'er Me, is still special to him, though he recognizes how some of the songs are now very taxing on Daltrey's vocals.
"Roger and I now stand almost alone together, representing not only the original band, but also its Mod audience, and of course all our other early fans," he says.