Rock and Roll Heaven

Won't Get Fooled Again

How I scored front row seats for The Who twice, thirty years apart

Photograph by Redferns

In the late '90s, I landed the best job ever—head writer on I-BASH, an internet extravaganza concert. It was basically eight hours streaming live on stage from Vegas, starring MC David Spade and oodles of bands of every kind: Kiss, Faith Hill, the Dixie Chicks, Natalie Cole, Tony Bennett and the reunion of the Who. They hadn't played together in decades, so this was going to be gangbusters.

All I really cared about was meeting my life-long heartthrob, Roger Daltry. David Spade would be interviewing the band, so I'd be with him—drooling on my V.I.P lanyard like a teenager.

Most women have at least one rock star they've loved forever and Roger Daltry was mine—ever since I first saw him on my brother's "Tommy" album.

Back then, in the summer of '71, "Who's Next" flew up the charts and everyone was hooked. "I won't get fooled again!" was the sound of my last summer before college. So, when I heard on my clock radio they were playing in Philadelphia, I gathered up my three best friends and we planned to go, as our "off to college goodbye."

I drove to the mall to buy the tickets at Bamberger's Department store and went up to the top floor, where a nice lady sitting at a folding table sold tickets. It was like buying them from your aunt. She had a little machine about the size of a toaster and she picked out $7.50 seats. No fees, no lines. I quickly left with a white envelope cradling four tickets.

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"Have a good time, sweetheart," my ticket seller said.

I quickly put them in my jewelry box for safekeeping. They weren't the best seats at the huge Spectrum, but we were going by ourselves: no brothers, no boyfriends—just the girls.

We looked forward to this night for weeks, and it finally came. About halfway over the bridge that takes you to Philly from South Jersey, about to take a hit off the circling joint, I realized that I forgot the tickets! It seemed ridiculous, as I had fondled them all summer. I'd literally take them out and pet them.

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But, at the moment my friends were picking me up, I was rushed—changing my mind about what to wear, in the event I could charm my way backstage and meet Roger Daltry. I was always a dreamer.

I blamed the three of them, since no one asked me, "You DO have the tickets, right? If you aren't the ticket buyer, that's your job!"

Diane practically slammed on the brakes in the middle of ongoing traffic in South Philly.

"You asshole, Kasper!" she screamed.

"You ruined everything," Colleen yelled.

"I knew we shouldn't trust you," said my best friend Stephanie, which really hurt since I knew it was true.

"I'll get us in," I finally said desperately, having absolutely no clue what I was going to do.

"How?" they asked in unison while continuing to curse me out.

"I'll tell them I forgot the tickets," I said, flashing my very white teeth, peeking from behind long, straight blond hair and a carefree golden tan. I hated using my "gifts," since I claimed to be a feminist, but this was an emergency. And my three best friends? Each was better looking than the next. Life's locks usually opened pretty easily for us.

There was a steady stream of fans pushing towards the many entrances of the oval-shaped Spectrum by the time we parked. I jumped into the throng, circled the perimeter, with everyone on my heels, still muttering obscenities. After a few laps, I found my shot—a stand-alone guard at an unused door. I caught him checking me out as I wiggled by his door. I finally walked up to him, flipped my hair back over my shoulders and told him my sad and horrible story. I think I may have even worked up a single, little tear.

He checked out all four of us and pretty quickly unroped his door, rushing us inside. We followed him like trained ducks as he led us through to the arena, down into the packed sections and then further. Suddenly, we were on the floor and moving down toward the front. He stopped at the front row where there were four empty seats practically licking the stage—nodding for us to sit in them.

"OHMIGOD," I bragged to the girls. "These are twenty-dollar seats!"

"Have a good time," he said winking as he left. I kissed his cheek and thanked him for his kindness. Suddenly, I was a hero. I went from asshole to hero in one night. We saw the Who from the first row of the Spectrum. Roger Daltry was singing right to me, practically.

Thirty years later, at I-BASH, I'm waiting backstage at the venue where the Who would reunite, super excited to finally meet my heartthrob. Their manager bursts through the heavy double doors, announcing that he was "bringing the boys in" but they didn't want anybody speaking to them, absolutely no cameras. They didn't want to even be "looked at."

"Are you fucking kidding me?" I said under my breath to my co-workers. I flashed the credentials hanging around my neck and promptly said to this British spoiled sport, "I'm head writer, so I'm looking. I've loved Roger Daltry forever—fire me! I'm looking!"

Minutes later, when "the boys" were ushered in, I didn't just look, I gawked—staring with my big mouth hanging open. Roger looked nothing like the young rocker I lusted after all those years ago. He looked old, sad and frightened.

Later that night, I watched the Who once again, from the front row, with Roger singing right to me, practically. On stage, he looked just like he did in 1971, and so did I, for two precious hours.

   
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