Quadrophenia Exhibition in London’s Carnaby Street

A shop called Pretty Green -  The Jam, mods, geddit? – has an exhibition devoted to The Who’s Quadrophenia, which I visited today as it is a favourite album of mine.

The exhibition is in the basement and darkly lit; the backdrop picture builds anticipation as you descend the stairs.


Unfortunately the exhibition did not live up to the promise from my point of view. I am a big fan of the photographs in the booklet that comes with the double LP and these form an important part of the exhibition as you would expect. Sadly it appears that nobody can find the originals so they seem to have been scanned from the printed booklet and do not look particularly good blown up large. Photographer Ethan Russell says:

After Quadrophenia I slowly backed away from photography. I proposed a television film of it, and it almost got made. I became a writer and, working on my first book, went to England to find the Quadrophenia negatives. They were gone.

Since Russell himself sells reproductions scanned from the book that is clearly all that anyone can find. A great shame.

So what else is in the exhibition? There are a couple of scooters including this one:


This is a modified Vespa PX 125 including “mod-style extra mirrors”. The description advertised is a competition to win it; I followed the instructions only to be told that the competition had finished.

There is also a box of demo tapes


as well as some of Pete Townshend’s original story notes and various panels describing the Quadrophenia recording process. These are interesting in themselves, though if you have the recently issued box set you will find they are taken straight from the book.

Two things would have made the exhibition much better from my point of view. One would have been high quality reproductions or the originals of the photographs as mentioned above. The other would have been greater depth and variety of information – as it is, there is really nothing here that is not already in the deluxe book and box, and the box itself is disappointing in that it is really Pete Townshend’s project and lacks contributions from other band members, Who outtakes, or any audio from the original (unsuccessful) Quadrophenia tour.

Still, the exhibition is free and it is worth looking in if you are in the area.