It was 39 years ago Saturday (September 4th, 1982) that the Who released their final studio album for 24 years, the ill-fated, It's Hard. The album, which followed Pete Townshend's stint in rehab for alcohol, cocaine, and heroin abuse, also came after the completion of Townshend's third solo album, the critically acclaimed, All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes. For the first time in the band's history, Townshend actually pooled Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, and Kenney Jones over what subjects they were interested in before he wrote the material, with global concerns topping the list. Who producer-engineer Glyn Johns was back behind the boards for the first time since 1978's Who Are You.
The album's lead single, “Athena” peaked at a disappointing Number 28 on the Billboard Hot 100. Interestingly, although the Who did perform seven of the 12 tracks from It's Hard over the course of its 1982 Farewell Tour — “Athena” was only played 10 times during the 42-date trek, and was dropped entirely from the second leg of the tour. Roger Daltrey admitted to us that he was never a fan of how “Athena” turned out on record — or in concert: “No, I never liked that song. It's a great record. I think what happened with that song, it was originally called 'Teresa' and then Pete was talking to me about Nick Roeg's girlfriend (Theresa Russell) and how he fancied her, and that song was written about her — but then it changed into 'She's a bomb' and I think I've got a psychological problem with it. I listened to it on the record the other day, and it's a great record; there's so much energy on that thing but I still don't think there's a center to that song. The fact that he changed the title in that and didn't stick to what it was supposed to be lost its center to me.”
Pete Townshend told us why after the 1982 tour he decided to finally put the brakes on the Who as an ongoing, permanent recording and touring outfit: “It had almost destroyed me. It had destroyed one of the members of our band, the whole machine around the Who. I actually felt by the time we hit 1982, that there was no point really trying again, because what we would do would be a shadow of what we'd done before.”