The Who icon Pete Townshend claimed he was ‘ripped off’ by The Beatles and Paul McCartney in a new interview.
Townshend was asked by Rolling Stone, “The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper at the beginning of the Who Sell Out era. Did that inspire you at all? They framed their songs around the Sgt. Pepper idea and you framed yours around a pirate radio station.”
Townshend defensively shot back, “No, no. Come on. The Beatles copied us! Paul McCartney came up to me at the Bag O’Nails [music club], which we mention in the album artwork. He was always very, very sweet to me. I should say that first. But he said to me that he really loved our mini-opera, which was called “A Quick One, While He’s Away.” That was on the album that preceded The Who Sell Out. And he told me they were thinking about doing similar things.
I think anybody that was even a little bit art school back then, a little bit adventurous — and, of course, the Beatles were encouraged to experiment to the max in the studio — would have thought about doing something which was a concept.
In this case, of course, it wasn’t a concept. [Laughs] It wasn’t a concept until the day that we walked in to get photographed in tubs of baked beans. It was only at that photo session that we learned that the name of the album was going to be The Who Sell Out, which is a brilliant title, of course.
It was only on that date that we learned what the cover was going to look like. Things moved very quickly in those days. Days before that, [Who co-manager] Kit Lambert sent me Side One of the album to approve that had all of these wonderful commercials, and some of the jingles that we’d recorded.
My idea had been much more restrained, much less complete a vision. It was simply that we’d have some jingles on the album, that was all. I didn’t think of actually adding radio jingles. I just wrote ‘Odorono’ and a couple of other songs about products. We did a few goofy, fun things in the studio. We did that because we didn’t feel that we had enough strong songs for a complete album. Our managers owned and ran Track Records and they wanted another album out. They were going to put it out, whatever we said.”