On September 17, 1967, the British rock band the Who ended an already explosive, nationally televised performance of “My Generation” with a literal bang that singed Pete Townshend’s hair, left shrapnel in Keith Moon’s arm and momentarily knocked The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour off the air. The Who, with its lyrics like “Hope I die before I get old” marked the group as happy warriors in the generational battle being waged in the late 1960s. It was also other things like the sheer volume at which they preferred to play and their penchant for leaving every stage they played looking as if a bomb had just gone off. On this day in 1967, one actually did. Keith Moon was already in the habit of placing an explosive charge in one of his two bass drums to detonate during Townshend’s guitar-smashing at the end of each performance. But for their Smothers Brothers appearance, Moon packed several times the normal amount. When he set it off, a gigantic explosion rocked the set as a cloud of smoke engulfed Townshend and Daltrey. Though bassist John Entwistle never lost his cool, Daltrey practically flew downstage and Townshend emerged with his hair was almost literally blown to one side of his head.
Though the incredible explosion has been rumored to have caused Pete Townshend’s eventual near-deafness, credit for that should probably go instead to the Who’s pioneering use of stacked Marshall amplifiers as a means of achieving maximum volume during their live performances.