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October 1970: The Who play at Sussex

Oct

08

Please note that this was first posted in October 2010.

Advert for The Who, James Gang and Roger Ruskin Spear

"INTAKE 10" was the name given to the tenth intake of students at Sussex, those who arrived in October 1970.  (By extension, those newly arrived students reading this are part of "INTAKE 50").

"INTAKE 10" was also the name of the Students' Union's main dance event for new students, held in the "Old Refectory" (Mandela Hall) on Saturday, October 10th — 40 years ago this weekend.

The following week, student magazine Martlet helpfully printed a front page showing those hundreds of ticket holders who couldn't get in the hall, or couldn't see the stage, what they missed.  Unionews reported:

"Last week really saw the come-back of a Social scene to the University campus.  INTAKE 10, despite a few problems such as table wrecking by Pete Townsend, and a somewhat overheated atmosphere, the event was granted to be a success."

On The Who's official Web site, visitor andyjscott recalls:

"Went with a girlfiend, went for a drink to the University bar.... Keith Moon stood next to me! Roger was walking behind me coming down the stairs. 'Borrowed' a chair to stand on, from the common room to get better view. Who came on 40 minutes late (typical for then!) A few minutes into the first song, Pete Townsend broke the stage (which was made of tables) The broken table had to be slotte out and a new one put in! After that, the whole thing was fantastic! they kept getting requests for 'Magic Bus', but wouldn't do it. Andy S.

The "table wrecking" is explained on a Who fan site as follows:

"I was at the Sussex University gig on 10th October 1970. The social secretary had blown the entire annual budget booking The Who, I think for £3000. He tried to recoup this by selling 2000 tickets at £2 a piece. Trouble was, there was no real auditorium on campus, and the largest room held only 600. Also, there was no stage, and one had to be improvised using seminar tables. There was a mad scheme to pipe the music to other rooms, but of course no one was going to put up with this, and so 2000 people crowded into a room for 600.

The Who were fantastic, and though it was hard to move, the crowd had a great time. The high point of the show came when they were doing My Generation: Pete Townshend was jumping up and down, and all of a sudden there was a great KEERRRRRANNGG and a lot of feedback: he had gone straight through the table. The band didn't miss a beat (Keith Moon probably didn't notice) and Towshend finished the song standing in the hole in the table. Great gig."  Patrick Heren

Mr Heren's statement of the event's finances is an exaggeration as the accounts presented to the Union's Finance Commitee shown here confirm: 

USSU's statement of accounts for the gig

Advert for The Who, James Gang and Roger Ruskin SpearAnd the £21.0.0 paid out for an advert in Melody Maker means we know that tickets were sold not at £2 but at £1 for students and £1.25 (25 shiillings) for the public:

 

 

Finally you can read the account from the Martlet of the (acting) Social Secretary who put together the event programme that included INTAKE 10 and other name performers.