How The Who’s Stolen Equipment Led To The First 100-Watt Amp

Rock N' Roll Diary Extra | Matt Dolloff, 100.7 WZLX

Nowadays a 100-watt amplifier or a large “stack” amp is a mainstay of heavy metal bands and big, loud live rock shows. But they were once considered impossible to pull off – until Pete Townshend and John Entwistle insisted otherwise.

In the summer of 1965, The Who debuted new amplifiers and equipment from Vox. But the guys believed their new brand new stuff would attract potential thieves, so they decided to shop for a guard dog.

Well, in one of the more ironic twists in rock history, while the band was inside the Battersea Dogs’ Home shopping on September 4, 1965, the van containing their new equipment was indeed stolen. Turns out they were right! But that one theft turned out to be something of a blessing in disguise for both The Who and the now-legendary amp brand Marshall.

Townshend and Entwistle had tried Marshall amps before, but their 50-watt models weren’t loud enough to overpower the crowd noise (and Keith Moon’s relentless pounding on the drums). Even though they were already dissatisfied with the sound of their Vox equipment, the stolen van prompted them to return to Marshall to create something new.

Sure enough, they came back to Townshend with 100-watt heads and a giant 8×12 speaker cabinet stacked on top of each other, and thus the “stack” amp was born. The model proved too unwieldy for roadies, however, and evolved into two 4×12 cabs that he stacked on top of each other.

It’s been said that Townshend designed the amp himself, but in actuality he just inspired the concept.

This is just another big reason The Who have a reputation of being one of the loudest bands in rock history…And another reason Townshend today struggles with his hearing.

SEE ALSO: Pete Townshend to Carter Alan on ‘Tommy’: “Now I Have ‘[Expletive] Off’ Money!”

h/t Charles Shaar Murray on Facebook

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