"Pinball Wizard" is a song written by Pete Townshend and performed by the English rock band The Who, and featured on their 1969 rock opera album "Tommy". The original recording was released as a single in 1969 and reached No. 4 in the UK charts and No. 19 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
The B-side of the "Pinball Wizard" single is an instrumental credited to Keith Moon, titled "Dogs (Part Two)". Despite the title it has no musical connection to The Who's 1968 UK single "Dogs".
The lyrics are written from the perspective of a pinball champion, called "Local Lad" in the Tommy libretto book, astounded by the skills of the opera's eponymous main character, Tommy Walker: "He ain't got no distractions / Can't hear those buzzers and bells / Don't see lights a flashin' / Plays by sense of smell / Always gets a replay / Never seen him fall / That deaf dumb and blind kid / Sure plays a mean pin ball.", and "I thought I was the Bally table king, but I just handed my pinball crown to him".
Townshend once called it "the most clumsy piece of writing [he'd] ever done". Nevertheless, the song was a commercial success and remains one of the most recognised tunes from the opera. It was a perpetual concert favourite for Who fans due to its pop sound and familiarity.
Position on the album
In late 1968 or early 1969, when The Who played a rough assembly of their new album to critic Nik Cohn, Cohn gave a lukewarm reaction to it. Following this, Townshend, as Tommy's principal composer, discussed the album with Cohn and concluded that, to lighten the load of the rock opera's heavy spiritual overtones (Townshend had recently become deeply interested in the teachings of Meher Baba), the title character, a "deaf, dumb, and blind" boy, should also be particularly good at a certain game. Knowing Cohn was an avid pinball fan, Townshend suggested that Tommy would play pinball, and Cohn immediately declared Tommy to be a masterpiece. The song "Pinball Wizard" was written and recorded almost immediately. The single version was slightly sped up and runs to 2:57, whilst the natural length album version runs to 3:04.
This song is one of the band's most famous live songs, being played at almost every Who concert since its debut live performance on 2 May 1969. The live performances rarely deviated from the album arrangement, save for an occasional jam at the end sometimes leading to another song. Bootleg recordings show that this song has been known to last as long as 8 minutes (at a concert at the Rainbow Theatre in London on 3 February 1981), although live versions lasting as long as that are extremely rare.
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100
|U.S. Cash Box Top 100
|U.S. (Joel Whitburn's Pop Annual)
The Who - Pinball Wizard / Dogs Part Two
UK Track 604027 (1969).
Record produced by Kit Lambert.
The vinyl record has remained in excellent condition.
Audio quality is very clear and strong throughout.
Both record centre labels are clean, unmarked, and free from tears, stains or stickers.
The record was manufactured with a large centre.
The record comes with a generic, plain white paper sleeve.