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Pete Townshend Writes About Playing Chicago with the Kinks in 1969 Letter

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 12, 2011 1:30PM

Image via Letters of Note.

Shaun Usher of Letters of Note fame (who brought to our attention a pre-man hands Madonna's 1991 letter in which she had some non-flattering things to say about Chicago men) shared a 1969 letter from Who leader Pete Townshend, written on stationery, where he raved about a previous concert he played in Chicago with the Kinks. Townshend expresses his admiration and respect for Ray Davies and company throughout the message, capped by this.

"Anyway, I'm carrying their record with me, but haven't a record player with me unfortunately. It really does do things for me."

It appears that the gig to which Townshend was referring was a Halloween night 1969 gig at the Kinetic Playground. The Kinks hadn't played Stateside since 1964, thanks to an incident where Ray Davies punched a Musicians Union employee. By the time the legal issues related to that were settled, it set them back considerably here and The Who, who opened for The Kinks in England when they started out, wound up headlining the gig in Chicago.

Townshend recognized the reversal of fortunes and announced from the stage, “in the old days, we used to dream about opening for The Kinks. So its come to this. This show’s for them.”

When the original Kinetic Playground opened in 1968 at 4812 N. Clark St., it quickly became one of the most important musical venues in the city, hosting acts such as Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention and The Who. It's interiors were also filmed for the film Medium Cool. It suffered substantial damage in a fire on November 8, 1969 and never re-opened. Owner Aaron Russo continued to promote rock shows in the Midwest and eventually helmed the early career of Bette Midler

(h/t Robert Loerzel)