The Who’s Best Live Version of ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’

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The Who performing “Won’t Get Fooled Again” at Shepperton Studios in 1978

Ask a room full of hardcore devotees of The Who what their favorite song is and chances are “Won’t Get Fooled Again” from 1971’s Who’s Next will be at or near the very top of the list. And for good reason. It’s one of the greatest classic rock anthems of all time.

It’s also a rarity among Who tracks as it’s one of just four singles by the band to reach the Top 15 of the U.S. Hot 100. (Don’t go looking for such classics as “Pinball Wizard,” “I Can’t Explain,” “My Generation” or “You Better You Bet” there. They all fell short.)

The “Won’t Get Fooled Again” single was released on June 25, 1971, with a significant edit from its 8:32 album version. The 45 was trimmed to just 3:37 for Top 40 radio.

Our favorite live performance of the song was filmed at Shepperton Studios, not far from London, in 1978, by director Jeff Stein for the closing sequence of his documentary film on the band, The Kids Are Alright.

Though Stein had no prior film experience, he persuaded the band to let him assemble the documentary. He painstakingly sourced film clips of The Who from throughout their career but recognized he still lacked performances of some of the greatest songs in their catalog.

Stein and his crew convinced The Who to do a controlled performance of several songs at Shepperton in December 1977 but they were ultimately rejected. The band reassembled on May 25, 1978, to once again perform a handful of songs in front of an invited audience and Stein’s crew.

Their ages? Roger Daltrey was 34. Pete Townshend had recently turned 33. John Entwistle was just 30.

It was the very last performance by Keith Moon. He was just 31 and would pass just over three months later.

While rough versions had been available for viewing for decades, it wasn’t until October 2019, that it was restored, and upgraded to 4K for the first time.

More good news: the companion album to the film was finally reissued on vinyl on March 6, 2020. (See links below.)

Bonus: Watch them perform it on their 2022 tour

For good measure, we’ve also included another unique live performance of the song.

On Oct. 12, 2019, the ensemble Rockin’ 1000 gave a 18-song performance at Italy’s Milano-Linate Airport. The setlist included such classic rock staples as the Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son.”

Towards the end of their set, they took on “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

Watch Rockin’ 1000 perform “Won’t Get Fooled Again

Best Classic Bands Staff

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  1. Chris
    #1 Chris 26 June, 2022, 03:07

    I remember seeing “The Kids Are Alright” in the movie theatre back in the good old days when I was in high school in the late 70’s! Still great to see that clip today… excellent performance for the movie!

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