The Who weren’t known to be the nicest or friendliest of the 1960s rock and roll bands. Keith Moon was a madcap delight who often befriended most of his fellow musicians and pop stars, and on any given night, there was a decent possibility of seeing Pete Townshend or John Entwistle at the Bag O’ Nails club. But the members could turn surly and combative quickly, and their infighting was notorious, and it occasionally spilt outside their ranks as well.
Still, when it came to helping out a fellow band in need, The Who had a notable instance of camaraderie. That was when The Rolling Stones – specifically Mick Jagger and Keith Richards – got busted at Richards’ Sussex home Redlands in February of 1967. Led by infamous police Sergeant Norman Pilcher, the raid uncovered trace amounts of drug use, but it was enough to get both Jagger and Richards arrested.
The Who and the Stones were friendly enough that the former group saw this as an attack on pop groups as a whole. The Who had garnered a reputation for anti-establishment ethos, and indeed their next album would concern the restrictions of British radio broadcasting by parodying the pirate stations that played rock music at the time on The Who Sell Out. Sensing a need to help out their compatriots, the band sprung into action.
Their plan was simple: record two Stones songs, rush to release it as a single, and gain enough money to bail Jagger and Richards out. The band decided to take on ‘The Last Time’ and ‘Under My Thumb’, but there was a problem: Entwistle was on his honeymoon at the time. That meant that Townshend stepped in to overdub bass on the single. From the initial recording to the pressing of the single to the release, it only took a week to get The Who’s covers of ‘The Last Time’ and ‘Under My Thumb’ out to help their friends.
Turns out, though, that this was still too late. Both Richards and Jagger had their legal troubles resolved by the time The Who’s single hit the marketplace. Richards spent a single night in jail, while Jagger managed to avoid the big house completely. Both eventually had their sentences overturned. What was originally a noble cause to help their fellow rockers wound up just being a silly old-hat cover.
The single only wound up peaking at number 44 on the UK Singles Chart, and the group pretty much ignored its existence until ‘The Last Time’ appeared on the compilation album The Who Hits 50! in 2014.
Check out The Who’s version of ‘The Last Time’ down below.