In 1963, Kit Lambert was a posh young chap making films.
He was particularly taken with French New Wave cinema.
He wanted to make films like that.
Films that weren’t just a dull, plodding, straight-line narrative.
He wanted to make dangerous films with onscreen montages that exploded over the audience.
But he was working at Shepperton and the sort of films he was working on were exactly the sort of films he didn’t want to make.
Then he met someone who felt the way he did.
Chris Stamp came from a totally different background, east London, but he also wanted to make dangerous films.
They decided a good place to start was a rock and roll group.
Chris Stamp said “Our idea was to find a group that would be rebellious, anarchistic and uniquely different from the established music scene.”
So they looked all over London for a dangerous band.
And eventually they found four unknown youngsters playing in The Railway Hotel at Harrow.
And Kit and Chris began shooting the film.
But they began having ideas about how the band could be even better, even more dangerous.
And the more unconventional the ideas, the better they worked.
Kit suggested the lead guitarist should swing his arm like a windmill, bashing the guitar instead
of just strumming it.
It was unconventional but it looked spectacular.
Kit suggested they smash up their instruments on stage.
It was barmy, outrageous, incredibly wasteful.
But it drove the audience wild, they couldn’t get enough.
The group became so successful, Kit and Chris dropped the idea of making a film and just managed the group.
And the more dangerous they were the more famous they became.
Because they were totally different to everyone else around.
Eventually Kit came up with his craziest idea of all.
The guitarist should write an opera.
An opera, for a rock and roll band, what kind of a stupid idea was that?
But the lead singer said “We thought, at least it’s dangerous. Kit and Chris made us believe that if we made it dangerous anything would work.”
So they wrote the first rock and roll opera.
The guitarist who wrote the opera was Pete Townshend.
The opera was Tommy.
The band of course was the Who.
The album of that opera sold twenty million copies worldwide.
After Tommy, the Who became one of the biggest rock and roll bands of all time.
And it all started by trying to be dangerous.
Dangerous is another way of saying it hasn’t been done before.
It hasn’t been done because it’s a big risk.
And risks are dangerous.
It feels dangerous because you’re out of your comfort zone.
You stand out, you’re different to everyone else.
And, as we all know, it’s always more comfortable to do what everyone else is doing.
(This article first appeared on www.campaignlive.co.uk)
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