Since the publication of When Stars Were in Reach in February of 2013, there have been two occasions when the blood in my veins flowed with extra Adrenalin. The first was when I received an email from Frank Diego on December 23, 2014, showing me a contract Union Catholic High School signed with Sly and The Family Stone (see Facebook post from January 5, 2015), have I been so revved up.
The second happened in the last two months. A little over a year ago I received a Facebook message from a gentleman named Todd McCartney saying that his mother, who passed away in 2016, had attended the Who concert at Union Catholic High School in 1967 and even saved photos from the show she herself had photographed. We exchanged some messages back and forth. Todd was going to rummage around to look for the photographs. About a month later, I received a message from Todd saying that he went through some of his mother’s boxes where the album (with the photos) was supposed to be, but couldn’t find anything. I thought this lead was closed. Oh how wrong I was.
Fast forward to September of this year, I received another message from Todd notifying me that he found the photos. Todd was gracious enough to send me copies of eleven color photos of The Who from November 29, 1967 at Union Catholic High School and to allow me to share them with my readers. Ten of the eleven were taken backstage in the teachers’ lounge and one on the UC stage. There was also a photo of a piece of paper with three autographs – Keith Moon, Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle. Backstage? Autographs? What? There had to be a story here. I spoke with Todd recently to get the background behind the photos and autographs. Who was Todd’s mother and why and how did she get backstage? Todd’s mother was Joan McCartney. On November 29, 1967 she was known as Joan Hadley. She was a UC alumnus having graduated the previous June, i.e. June of 1967. But how did she get backstage?
After graduating Union Catholic, Joan entered Union College in the fall of 1967. She was an avid writer and landed a job on the Union College newspaper. She obtained press credentials to cover the Who concert for the paper. Imagine what a charge Joan must have felt visiting her alma mater several months after graduating, with press credentials and a backstage pass to boot. Picture Joan triumphantly returning to Union Catholic, meeting old teachers, former schoolmates and then going backstage to meet The Who Chapter 22 of When Stars Were in Reach details the goings-on backstage while the opening act, The Decoys, were performing. The book mentions The Who being interviewed by the girls’ and boys’ respective UC newspapers. However, also in the dressing room, although not mentioned in WSWIR was Joan Hadley, who also interviewed them for the Union College newspaper. Joan relayed to Todd that The Who behaved like immature jerks that night. At one point during the interview, Keith Moon took the microphone out of Joan’s hands and put it in is mouth. Remember three months prior Keith Moon had celebrated his 21st birthday. Boys will be boys.
The photos themselves are a thing of beauty, capturing the band in the most informal of settings, relaxing backstage in the teachers’ lounge. These are the only color photos I’m aware of that were taken in the dressing room. All the other color photos that I’ve seen from the evening, those of Angelo Del Monte and Nancy Scalera Mackow, were of the Tho Who on the UC stage. So it’s interesting to see the Who in their mod garb and see the colors they were wearing. Like a true fan, Joan was able to get the boys to pose together for a spontaneous, informal group photo. Another photo of interest shows John Entwistle signing the concert poster. Todd has confirmed that the concert photo was not his mom’s. I wonder if that concert poster still exists today, 53 years later. Another of the photos shows Pete Townshend practicing his newly acquired Coral Hornet Guitar, similar to the photo in WSWIR.
The sole photo of The Who on stage deserves some commentary. The photo of the band on the UC stage was taken from a unique angle – behind the stage. That Joan photographed the band from behind the stage is understandable, given that she had press credentials and was allowed to watch the show from behind the stage. I asked Todd to try and sharpen the photo to see the bleachers in the background. That’s the same behind-stage photo but cut-off at the bottom.
All photos which were photographed by Joan McCartney are courtesy of Todd McCartney.