“I’m dealing with a memory that never forgets”: The Who say goodbye in 1983 on “Radio 1990″

By on December 14, 2017

On December 16, 1983, London’s tabloid newspaper The Sun carried an official statement by the Who — penned by their chief songwriter and guitarist, Pete Townshend — which began: “I will not be making any more records with the Who.”

Ten days later, the day after Christmas, the Who’s 1981 video for “You Better You Bet” aired on Radio 1990,” during a Friday night episode of “Night Flight.”

Watch it now on Night Flight Plus.

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Host Lisa Robinson also discussed Townshend’s departure from the band he’d originally formed in February 1964 (read more about the Who’s origins in this previous blog post), saying (in part):

“You can forget about getting more albums from the Who. When he was in New York a few weeks ago, Pete Townshend was mumbling about not wanting to do anymore group records, but now it’s official. Townshend released a statement in London last week saying that he’d told the band as far back as last May that he quit, and as of three weeks ago, Warner Records had terminated the Who’s contract. The assumption had been that past six months the Who had been in the studio making a new album. The truth is that they never went in at all because Townshend didn’t feel that the songs he’d written were right for the band.”

This particular episode of “Radio 1990″  also previewed music videos by Hall and Oates, Men at Work (“It’s a Mistake“) and 1983’s #2 power cut from The Album Network countdown — Def Leppard’s “Photograph” — as well as a cool little preview of Mel Brooks‘ then-new movie, To Be Or Not To Be.

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Radio 1990 began airing on the USA Network from March 14, 1983.

Five nearly half-hour evening shows continued each week for the next three-and-a-half years until the show’s run ended in late September 1986.

Read more about the Who and some of the other “Radio 1990″ episodes we’re featuring on Night Flight Plus below.

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Townshend’s parting message for his bandmates was: “I wish Roger, John and Kenney the best of luck with their future work and thank them for their patience.”

As you might expect, Who frontman Roger Daltrey was shocked to read the statement in The Sun, saying sarcastically at the time: “It was a wonderful Christmas present.”

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Daltrey added: “I don’t know whether the Who will ever work again. You can only take so much of being treated like a turd. It upset us the way he did it. I think he made a very big mistake. I can understand that he is probably going through a period where he can’t write, but that’s not the point. The group may need for him not to write the next album. Maybe we need to sit in a room with each other and all write the next album. But he wouldn’t do that; he wouldn’t want to play with us. And that’s the bit that upsets me and again, that’s fine. He made his bed, he’ll have to lie in it now.”

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As we’re sure you already know, the Who have re-formed and broken up many times since then.

They performed during Live Aid at Wembley Stadium in 1985, survived a 25th anniversary tour in 1989 and a tour of their classic Quadrophenia album in 1996–1997, and resumed regular touring in 1999, with drummer Zak Starkey taking over for Kenney Jones.

After bassist John Entwistle’s death on the eve of their 2002 US tour, the Who soldiered on with the last remaining original members, Roger and Pete.

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“You Better You Bet” — the stylish black & white video features a lip-synced live performance supplemented by keyboardist John “Rabbit” Bundrick — was written by Townshend “over several weeks of clubbing and partying,” during an apparent rough period in his marriage when he was separated from his wife and dating the daughter of a friend of his.

He’s said the lyrics reflected everything he was going through at the time, telling her (lyrically): “I’m dealing with a memory that never forgets.”

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He also references some of the music he’d been lately listening to while drinking, including T-Rex, as well as the Who’s 1971 album Who’s Next.

I call you on the telephone,
My voice too rough with cigarettes,
I sometimes feel I should just go home,
But I’m dealing with a memory that never forgets,
I love to hear you say my name,
Especially when you say “Yes!,’
I got your body right now on my mind,
But I drunk myself blind to the sound of old T-Rex,
To the sound of old T-Rex, oh, and
Who’s Next

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Be sure to check out all of the “Radio 1990” episodes we’ve upload to Night Flight Plus:

October 28, 1983: Lisa Robinson concludes her interview with John Cougar Mellencamp with his latest video hit “Crumbling Down,” plus more on the Moody Blues, Earth Wind & Fire, and a look at the 1983 film The Right Stuff.

December 30, 1983: Lisa Robinson previews a video art star-studded PBS broadcast, discusses a new album by the Go-Gos. Also features music videos by Prince and John Cougar Mellancamp.

February 22, 1984: Lisa Robinson interviews Mick Jagger (read more here), while co-host Kathryn Kinley chats about Sports Illustrated‘s hot swimsuit issue. Also features music videos by Elton John, Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band, and the Rolling Stones.

April 11, 1984: Lisa Robinson concludes her interview with Gene Simmons of Kiss, while co-host Kathryn Kinley relays news on the Pointer Sisters, and the fashions of Marc Bouwer. Features music videos by Toni Basil, Ratt and more.

July 12, 1984: This video profile on the Rolling Stones features Lisa Robinson’s interview with Bill Wyman (read more here).

July 10, 1985: Lisa Robinson chats with Van Halen’s former lead frontman, David Lee Roth (read more here), with bookended video music highlights.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.