June 1971: The Who Release "Won't Get Fooled Again"

Rock band The Who perform on stage at The Oval cricket ground, London, 18th September 1971. L-R Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend. Townshend is playing a Gibson SG Special guitar. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)
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(Michael Putland/Getty Images)

The Who's Pete Townshend was in a revolutionary mood when he wrote "Won't Get Fooled Again." Originally conceived as part of the aborted Lifehouse project, the song went on to be the final track on band's landmark fifth studio album, Who's Next. The bombastic eight-minute track featuring a signature scream from vocalist Roger Daltrey brought the band's immense power into stark relief.

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The song was edited down to 3:36 to be released as a single in England on June 25, 1971. Listen to the shortened version below.

The severe edit was issued in America a month later in July, and had a respectable chart run. "Won't Get Fooled Again" peaked at #15 on the Hot 100 for the week of September 18, 1971. The #1 song in America that week: Donny Osmond's "Go Away Little Girl." In the UK, the song peaked at #9.

“That big scream I did on ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ was totally instinctive, but it became kind of the focal point of the song," Daltrey told Uncut. "It pisses me off because I don’t get any royalties for it! But I hated it when they chopped it down. I used to say ‘F*ck it, put it out as eight minutes’, but there’d always be some excuse about not fitting it on or some technical thing at the pressing plant. After that we started to lose interest in singles because they’d cut them to bits. We thought, ‘What’s the point? Our music’s evolved past the three-minute barrier and if they can’t accommodate that we’re just gonna have to live on albums.’”

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