Townshend Didn't Want Reed For Tommy
Pete Townshend was left "shamed" during the filming of his rock opera TOMMY - because he disagreed with director Ken Russell handing a part to Oliver Reed.
The Who rocker's famed story of a deaf, dumb and blind pinball genius was adapted into a movie in 1975, and Russell suggested casting Reed, Jack Nicholson, and Ann-Margret in major roles.
Townshend was adamant he didn't want "Hollywood stars" in the film - but admits he was proved wrong when the cameras started rolling and the three famous actors showed their skills.
He tells the Los Angeles Times, "There is where I hang my head in shame. I initially disagreed with all three of these choices. My arguments were with both Ken and (producer) Robert Stigwood. Robert was the most persuasive, explaining the Hollywood star system to me in words of one syllable: 'We have to have them.'
"In the end, Oliver Reed did his comedic thing and it worked out extraordinarily well, with me coaching him line by torturous (sic) line in the studio, knocking back mugs of Remy Martin cognac. I was a little frightened of him at first but quickly realized he was a really wonderful man. Jack sang beautifully... Ann-Margret I knew nothing about and thought her voice was too old-school, too music-theater for Tommy. But she too convinced me immediately as soon as we started to record."
Townshend celebrated his 65th birthday on Wednesday (19May10).