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Album: A Quick OneReleased: 1966Charted:
Pete Townshend based the "Happy Jack" character on the strange and not-too-intelligent guys who used to hang around English beaches and play with the kids. Townshend would play on the Isle Of Man beach as a kid.
This was featured on The Who's second album, A Quick One. In the US, the album title was changed to "Happy Jack" due to record company fears that the original title was a reference to sex.
In 1966 The Who were slotted to film a television series in much the same vein as the Monkees series. For the pilot episode, the band filmed a clip to go along with this song. It featured the 4 of them as robbers attempting to rob a safe. They get distracted, however, by a cake sitting close by and wackiness ensues as The Who smear themselves from head to foot with frosting. Finally a cop busts in and foils their plan, chasing them out of the room. The show never aired, but the clip can now be found in the Kids Are Alright DVD. The clip is light years ahead of its time for what other bands of the '60s were doing.
A live version can be found on the expanded Live at Leeds album.
At the tail end of the song, you can hear Townshend yelling the phrase "I saw yer!" to Who drummer Keith Moon. Apparently, Moon had been banished from the studio and was trying to sneak back in.
This song was used in an ad campaign for the Hummer H2 in 2004. The commercial featured a boy in a wooden car rolling straight down a hill to win a soap box derby instead of taking the winding road down like everyone else.
Roger Daltrey recalled to Uncut magazine: "I remember when I first heard 'Happy Jack', I thought, 'What the f--k do I do with this? It's like a German oompah song!' I had a picture in my head that this was the kind of song that Burl Ives would sing, so 'Happy Jack' was my imitation of Burl Ives!"