Skip to Navigation | Skip to Content

Matt Kent Photography

22 December 2007

So Sad About Us

A couple of people have asked me what I think of 'Amazing Journey The Story of The Who'. To be honest it's taken me to now to watch it. It has taken me time to build up the courage to watch it because it's still a painful subject for me to address. But now I've watched it and if it showed anything to me it's how much I've been disowned by the brand of the band, or by those surrounding the band who are so scared of upsetting anyone in the band. When the documentary was first mooted I went to a meeting with the bands management, Spitfire Pictures and the then director D A Pennebaker and it was made quite clear that I was to be the advisor on the film. I even met with the band's management and a book company as I was asked to write the companion book to the film. Subsequently I met with the Director a couple of times and advised by email until he left the project after the band played the Isle of Wight Festival. The new director, Murray Lerner, was brought in (I even suggested to Spitfire that in my view he was the wrong person to direct a film on the band as I didn't think he 'got' the band and the fact that a third director was subsequently brought in speaks for itself) and worked with him on delving into the band's archive, which at the time was based in Norwich. Much of the official 'previously unseen' footage shown in the movie was dug out and identified by me. At the time Pete wanted little to do with the movie and so my time on it was subsequently restricted. However, I spent hours reviewing and identifying DV copies of the material in the archive and supplying info to the then director. After I left Pete's employ I became pretty much persona non grata within the band circles, with the exception of Roger, with many people who were my 'friend' suddenly finding it difficult to pick up the phone or respond to emails. Still, however, the producers and the third directorial team asked for advice and help identifying and tracking down footage and images - the only difference this time was that they paid a bit for my time. So it was with a little surprise when watching the movie that there wasn't even a credit there with my name. It may seem like sour grapes on my part, I don't know it's not meant to be but could sound that way, but I can tell you it bloody hurts. Anyway Anyway Anywhere was also used as a major source for the movie with page numbers being constantly quoted back to us. This comes at the end of a week when I also found out that my photos had been used on the 2006 / 2007 Encore discs, again without knowledge, permission or credit. Maybe I should have known better looking at how the last 18 months have gone.

As for the movie itself I thought the most telling bits were the interviews and the omissions. The interviews from both Roger and Pete were very honest and truthful and at times very emotional. At the end it was in danger of turning into a love fest but it did avoid that....just. Bill Curbishley, Mike Shaw, Barney, Dougal, Mike McInnerney and Chris Stamp were very good value and I enjoyed listening to their recollections (where were John Wolff, Doc, Billy Nicholls, Jon Astley etc?). I would have liked to have seen John's and Keith's family talk some more, particularly about their later years. The 'guest' interviews were as far as I'm concerned a waste of space (which I did say at the time) with the exception of Noel Gallagher, who I thought was very funny. The most emotional part for me was John's death because I was there at the time and involved with it on a emotional level, particularly when dealing with it on the website and I was surprised that no footage from the hours of footage which was shot at the bands rehearsal was used (maybe its because I was involved in it!!). There must be about 180 hours of footage there and a lot of it (as some of you would remember from the stuff we webcast) would have made fascinating viewing. I would have liked to have seen some accounts of the two days of rehearsals in Burbank, when Pino was flown in. Probably the most intense, emotional two days of my life and the drained looks on everyone's faces tell a story in itself. We decided not to film those rehearsals because it was so hard (I did take some stills) but I think it probably would have been nice to have spoken to some of the other band members about their feelings, particularly Zak who was very close to John. Lots of other footage that could have been used was also omitted which was a shame. The aim of the movie when it started was to steer away from using previously seen footage but that seems to have changed down the line.

Overall I think the interviews saved it but I think it's badly let down by the footage. Don't get me wrong it's great seeing some of that stuff and some of the improvements made to the footage is brilliant but I don't think it's a patch on the Kid's Are Alright (particularly the remastered and expanded version put out by Pioneer) which is a real disappointment. The opportunity was there to make the definitive article and it's been lost.