The Magic Demo

The Magic Demo

25 years ago today (June 7th, 1993), Pete Townshend was on hand, along with Billy Joel and Chuck Berry, at the groundbreaking for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. Back in 1965 Pete Townshend had just set up a recording studio in his Central London apartment, and he was messing around with his guitar as an exercise to make demo recordings. One of the “messing around” songs became The Who’s “Magic Bus” years later.

The studio version initially appeared in 1968 as the title track of The Who’s fourth American studio album, the oddly named Magic Bus: The Who on Tour. Just as strangely, the version most people know best is the live version from Live at Leeds in 1970

The studio version peaked at number-25 on the Billboard Hot 100.Pete explains how he came to write the song, which wouldn’t actually be recorded by the band for another three years.

“I’d come back from gigs and I’d kind of be in this room all on my own and all I had to do was, really, make demos. And sometimes I didn’t have a song in my head – I certainly didn’t have a ‘My Generation’ or a ‘Kids Are Alright’ or an ‘I Can See for Miles’ – but I wanted to pass the time and I wanted to play. Some quite interesting songs came out of that requirement to just knock something out, which will enable me to make a demo. I’d chug away with the guitar and I’ll say the first thing that comes into my mind.”

Photo: Robin Wong/