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Marijuana Plants Sprouted In Anaheim Stadium After The Who Played In '76

Music | November 1, 2019

Roger Daltrey of The Who performing on tour in 1976. Photo by Richard Reed/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

You know it was a good Who show when marijuana plants pop up in the outfield a few days later.

On March 21, 1976, The Who was touring in support of The Who By Numbers when they made a stop at Angels’ stadium in Anaheim to give L.A. fans a dose of their famous Maximum R&B. Their fans paid it forward, leaving a little surprise for the Angels, who'd soon be starting their baseball season. Days after The Who had packed up and headed off for more stadiums full of adoring crowds, marijuana plants sprouted in the Angels’ stadium, much to the chagrin of the city, the park’s officials, and the groundskeepers. Was it The Who’s fault that their excitable fans scattered pot seeds across left field? Or was it just a sign of the times when a baseball stadium in a notoriously conservative part of California was turned into the world’s biggest greenhouse? 

The Who Were Firing On All Cylinders In 1976

source: reddit

By 1976, The Who had been playing for more than a decade, and while they had plenty of hits throughout the ‘60s they were more popular than ever while on the Who By Numbers tour. They played a setlist stacked with hits to a ferocious fanbase who turned out in droves to see them. Even though the band was seemingly more popular than ever, this was to be the final year that The Who really toured like the band that everyone knew. Shortly after the band’s show in Anaheim the group’s guitarist and lead songwriter, Pete Townsend, would discover that he was suffering from the double whammy of hearing loss and tinnitus due to the volume of his band’s concerts.

This was also the last year that original drummer Keith Moon would play with the band in a touring capacity. By 1978 he’d be dead from an alcohol related death. But all of that was in the future, at their show in Anaheim the band played a blistering set full of every song a Who fan wants to hear: “Baba O’Riley,” “Squeeze Box,” “My Generation,” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Who fans can hear this exact show in the bootleg Who’s On First

The Show Was Absolutely Wild

source: pinterest

While the band was absolutely cooking on stage, things weren’t going so well in the audience. Hosting a rock concert in a sports stadium isn’t out of the ordinary, but it definitely changes the atmosphere from being less about the music to something that’s more of a spectacle. It’s reported that there were 55,000 paid attendees, of which about one fifth were allowed to stand on the field. While people milled about and jammed to The Who they also got up to trouble. There are reports of a fight in the crowd that night, as well as a small wave of destruction caused by fans who couldn’t score tickets.

Fans pushed and pushed against a center-field wall until they were able to push down about 70 feet for the fence and break into the show. There’s no way to know which fans -- paying guests or party-crashers -- dropped their pot seeds in the field, but it only took a few days for the seeds to germinate and grow. The minuscule plants flourished after the grounds crew watered and fertilized them. 

The Plants Were Discovered Less Than A Week Before Opening Day

source: los angeles angels blog

As workers repaired the center-field fence that was knocked down by zealous fans, they completely ignored the interesting plants growing among the grass. It was only a few days before the first pitch of the season that the groundskeepers realized that some of the grass on the field was of the “extra sticky” variety. The groundskeepers discovered about 500 marijuana plants growing throughout the field, and while there’s no word on how long it took the crew to report this to the office or if any players noticed while getting in some fielding practice, eventually the management was made aware of the situation - and so was the press. 

Groundskeepers Were Told To Refuse Outside Help For Marijuana Disposal

source: reddit

It’s likely that as soon as people heard that marijuana was growing freely in Angels’ stadium that everyone got a lot more interested in baseball. Season tickets were purchased, and applications to the ground’s crew were placed, but city officials were adamant that the plants be taken care of immediately. Stadium manager Tom Liegler reportedly told head groundskeeper Joe Verdi to turn down any Good Samaritans who showed up offering their services to get rid of the illegal weed, even if (or especially if) they offered to work for free. Even though the Angels had a little egg on their face from this incident, the city took it in stride. Mayor William J. Thom joked:

The economic situation at the stadium has not reached such a perilous point that we have to resort to growing marijuana. But they’ll never be able to play ‘Tea for Two’ at Anaheim Stadium again.

The Who Never Returned To Anaheim, But Don’t Blame Them For The Pot

source: reddit

The tour of 1976 was really the last time that The Who were the band that everyone thinks about, and this Anaheim show was, in a way, their final stateside hurrah. The band toured America again in ’79 but by then they’d expanded to a nine-piece band with only three original members. The '79 tour also featured a moment of fan pandemonium at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, when 11 fans were crushed to death.

This instance of pot plants growing after their performance is a kind of a goodbye to a specific era of the band. The strangest thing about the storyis that the errant marijuana plants in Angels’ stadium are seen as a thumb at the nose of authority from The Who. Aside from drummer Keith Moon, the band didn’t partake in that much debauchery -- or at least they were’t famous for it the way other rock bands of the era were. Singer Roger Daltrey is such a stickler for clean living (or at least he is now) that at a show in Madison Square Garden in 2019 he chastised audience members for smoking weed during the show, he said:

All the ones smoking grass down in the front there, I’m totally allergic to it. I’m not kidding, whoever it is down there, you f*cked my night and you made me really… I’m allergic to that sh*t and my voice just goes [slurps]. So f*ck you!

It sounds like Daltrey doesn’t want a repeat of what happened in Anaheim in 1976, at least not during this G-g-generation.

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Jacob Shelton

Writer

Jacob Shelton is a Los Angeles based writer. For some reason this was the most difficult thing he’s written all day, and here’s the kicker – his girlfriend wrote the funny part of that last sentence. As for the rest of the bio? That’s pure Jacob, baby. He’s obsessed with the ways in which singular, transgressive acts have shaped the broader strokes of history, and he believes in alternate dimensions, which means that he’s great at a dinner party. When he’s not writing about culture, pop or otherwise, he’s adding to his found photograph collection and eavesdropping on strangers in public.