“When Stars Were in Reach” (WSWIR) is the true story of a group of plucky and determined high school students who dreamt big and by doing so put their high school on the map. Tired of the usual boring bake sales and dances, this group of high school seniors tried a novel approach to fundraising. They coaxed an initially reluctant administration to enter the rock concert business in the fall of 1967 by booking an on-the-rise British rock band named curiously enough The Who.
In the inevitable clash between a Catholic high school’s button-down culture and the destructive live act of The Who, something had to give. WSWIR relives the events and revisits with many of the individuals (and not just the students) involved in transforming the school’s image from a staid, conservative high school in Scotch Plains, New Jersey to one that was soon at the cutting edge of the rock music scene in the years 1967 and 1968, rock n’ roll’s hey day.
The narrative is accompanied by a collection of rare photographs from the show of The Who on stage and backstage (in the teachers’ lounge no less!). WSWIR is also a snapshot of The Who, at a period in their career when for all intents and purposes they were little more than a cult band in the United States, known more for scintillating live performances than record sales.
When surveying the various U.S. venues in which The Who performed on the way to reaching iconic status, one would be hard-pressed to find a more unusual setting than Union Catholic High School where The Who left an audience of mostly first-time concert-going teens with mouths agape. It was an event that is still talked about today by those who attended the show and scoffed at in disbelief by everyone else…that is, until now.
Upon uncovering some rock memorabilia in a bin buried like archaeological artifacts in the author’s basement, a four-year odyssey began. The journey began with the sale of a concert poster on ebay and culminated in the writing of the book “When Stars Were in Reach.”