When The Who return to Auckland next year it will be more than 40 years since the band first played here. In 1968 - at a time when their music was expanding into high-volume art-rock - they toured here with fellow mods the Small Faces and former Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones.

It was one of the last old-styled package shows like the ones which had brought the Beatles and Rolling Stones here in previous years.

But the bands arrived in New Zealand under a cloud. They had been harangued by the Aussie media and there had been a booze-related incident on a flight from Adelaide which saw them escorted off the plane and then on to their connecting plane to Auckland.

And the troubles didn't stop there as this edited extract from Andrew Neill's book about the ill-fated tour A Fortnight of Furore explains...

Key Points:

The humiliated, disillusioned and exhausted entourage slept through the flight across the Tasman, landing at Auckland airport at 11pm on Sunday January 28.

"New Zealand was enjoyable,' the Small Faces' Steve Marriott recollected later. "That was a lovely country. The people were lovely and it was totally different from Australia. More compatible with the English, I guess. Once again, this is how nice they were. We got to the airport and Pete Townshend immediately smashed one press guy's camera. Throws it. Oh, here we go again! But they kind of understood, because I don't think they're too keen on Australians either.'

After signing autographs and chatting to waiting Kiwi fans, the groups boarded a bus to the Logan Park Motor Lodge. Most of the Monday (a holiday for Auckland Anniversary Day) was spent swimming and relaxing around the pool and drinking.

Safely on New Zealand soil, Pete Townshend publicly declared to an Australian journalist that he would never set foot in Australia again.

"The final humiliation came when the police turned up at the airport. We were victims,' he said. "The crew set out to humiliate us and they succeeded.'

Having not bothered to soundcheck, The Who arrived by taxi at the Auckland Town Hall for the 6pm show, only to encounter quite possibly the worst PA in their career. Earlier, the Small Faces had cut short their act and stormed off, muttering darkly at how they sounded. Only Paul Jones had bothered to rehearse - to break in his local backing band The Keil Isles.

Tour manager Ron Blackmore: "In New Zealand we just realised the PA was of no bloody value, so they were just playing, making a noise and moving their mouths. The thing is, that was the first time anybody had ever seen any sort of show where it was that type of volume coming off the stage.

"There was no way it could handle a quarter of what it was going to get hit with. The Who went out and hit this in the 6 o'clock show and it was like running into a brick wall."

At one stage, a walk-off seemed highly likely unless something was done about the microphones.

"They gave us these mikes because I supposed they heard we smash things up," Daltrey spat in contempt.

Townshend complained they sounded "terrible. It seems a waste of time to go on."

"Rampaging Pop Group Jeered by Teenagers" ran the headline in The Evening Post the following day. But according to Blackmore, the kids started jeering when the band pointed to the guy up the back of the room who was doing the sound.

At the end of the first show, a total of five microphones lay stamped into the stage and a seething Who were weighing up their options, as Blackmore recalled.

"After the first show, in the intermission, Bob Pridden said 'I'm going to take their stuff off the stage seeing they're not coming back."

"I went 'What? What do you mean they're not coming back?'. I thought they were in the dressing room but as it turned out, they'd got a cab with Wiggy and gone back to the motel. I went back and they were all sitting on the floor, having a beer and talking about blowing the rest of the tour out.

"They were saying 'F*** it! Let's get out of here". So I was trying to explain that if they got up and walked out, they had to look at the fact they they were probably going to end up in a situation where these promoters weren't going to pay them. I think The Who were only getting about a thousand pounds a show!

"I said 'you've gone through all this shit, you've put up with the Australian end of it, and you've got one more day to go. You've got another show to do in Auckland and another day to go in Wellington and then it's over. At least if you do it, nobody can take your money away from you and let me tell you, you've earned it."

"So they came back and did the eight o'clock show and took the attitude that they were just gonna have a bit of fun with it, and that's what they did."

A restless crowd were forced to wait while five microphones were replaced for the second show, which at 9.15pm, commenced 45 minutes late. While adjustments to the sound system were being made, the hall was still full of smoke from the bombs at the 6 o'clock show.

"Of course, in New Zealand nobody had ever seen anything like that," said Blackmore. "The promoters had not gone to the council and said 'We're going ot let off smoke bombs in the show' or anything like that, so when they did, there were firemen running in every direction."

At the end of the Auckland shows the microphone casualty report came to three damaged beyond repair and four needing new components.

The morning of Tuesday the 30th, the groups boarded an NAC flight south to Wellington to be greeted by more than 100 frantic teenagers. With the capital city being the tour's last port of call, the mood in the air was vengeful. Said Marriott: "In New Zealand, they were real sweet, the people, everything. And let's face it, we took it out on New Zealand. We were being good boys in Australia and got painted as the bad boys, so we felt that we needed to be bad."

Inside another faceless airport lounge, the groups encountered yet another faceless press reception.

A reporter from The Evening Post prodded them further on the Australian plane incident.

"A lot of bunkum and contrary to fact,' yelled Keith Moon, as he tore up a copy of the paper which carried the story. Meanwhile, in a case of mistaken identity, a threatening Pete Townshend offered Barry Duncan, the journalist from the NZ Sunday Times he thought responsible, outside for a spot of fisticuffs.

"Before we got to New Zealand," said Blackmore, "we'd been well and truly told that the record companies there weren't interested in anything to do with us. That we could forget about any assistance for any press things or anything to do with the music, which the bands were naturally quite upset about.

"But when we arrived in Wellington, we walked off the plane, and we were told the press reaction had been so big after what had happened in Australia, that first of all, the shows had sold out and also, all the record companies that were involved in the show had got together, and they had put on a big function at the airport. We suddenly entered this room full of press, and tables of food were laid out everywhere. Well the band were pissed off to think that, there they were - they were tired, they'd been through all this crap, they were confused because they didn't understand why they'd had to go through all this crap and yet here they were, going to have to sit in front of the press, going 'Smile, boys!'

"So the bands walked up, tipped these tables of food over, and just kept on walking. Food went everywhere. The press are going 'Uh?!', the record company people were saying 'H-h-hey guys!' and nobody spoke. The guys just kept walking and they're all looking at me, saying "Ron, where's the f***ing bus?"

Arriving at their hotel, the Waterloo (an appropriate name in the ensuing circumstances), they were dismayed to find there was no suite available to hold a birthday bash for Marriott - celebrating his 21st. Furthermore, there were no television sets in the rooms, providing yet another headache for Blackmore. "The Waterloo was a very old fashioned hotel, where all the politicians stayed. The guys took one look and walked out, saying 'We're not staying here' and I was standing there thinking 'What the f*** are we gonna do now?'"

"The guys from the record companies were there and they were saying 'Listen guys, this is the best hotel in Wellington."

Temporarily without lodgings, the groups wandered down to nearby Glasgow Wharf.

Wiggy: "We wandered along all the English ships, going up on board, introducing ourselves, seeing if they had anything to smoke. Some of the lads stayed on board because we were in their galley and in their mess, just drinking and stuff. It was a weird place to wind up really, at the other end of the earth, in a smelly galley on a British tramp steamer or whatever."

An hour later, Ron Blackmore anxiously grabbed the record company people to talk sense to Wiggy, who'd returned to the bus with the bands. "They said to him 'This really is the best hotel in Wellington. You'd better take our word for it, we're not lying to you. This is it, everything from here is downhill.'"

Like the aeroplane incident, the ensuing events have been subject to exaggeration over the years - not least from Marriott himself. "I had my 21st birthday in New Zealand,' he recalled "They gave me the only suite in the hotel, which was really nice of them. This was in Wellington. Me, Keith and Wiggy destroyed the place.

"EMI had given me a little portable record player as a birthday present and a bunch of great records to play as well, which was sweet of them. The record player started to feed back into itself and made a terrible humming sound that you couldn't get rid of. And then you had to listen to it at someone else's earphones level or not at all, so I threw it over the balcony."

Wiggy: "Keith and I looked over amazed at this because it all happened very quickly by this time and it smashed in front of some fans and the fans were all there, waiting for autographs and fled because they thought we were throwing things at them. But it went so beautifully, it went down so majestically ... SMASH! ... with all the bits flying!"

"So I got a towel or something. I don't know why I needed a towel, whether I was in the shower or whatever or got soaked from something. I went downstairs with a towel, wrapped it all up, brought it back through reception, climbed all the stairs to the top floor where Marriott's room was and then we all went out and threw it out again. It wasn't quite as good the second time, but you should have seen it!"

Marriott: "Before you knew it, there were chairs, TVs, settees, everything was over the balcony and through the windows - mirrors, everything, the whole f*****g deal. There was quite an audience watching it all come down. It was ridiculous, I was hurting with laughter, it was so funny at the time, pissed as newts. We'd be lying on the floor, gasping for breath and someone would see something that wasn't broken and then break it and sling it over the balcony and it would all start again. Anyway, we were sort of lying there wondering what to do."

"When we came to, we could see what we had done. All the French doors were gone, every window, there's nothing in the room because it's all on the pavement. I think Ronnie and Pete were there to begin with, and Pete said to Ronnie 'This ends in the nick,' and they split and left the three of us to do it.

"Me, Moonie and Wiggy - we were the culprits I'm afraid. So I had a great idea, 'Let's say someone's broken into our room and complain about it.' So Keith Moon rings up the reception and says 'Look, what kind of security do you have? Our room's been broken into and vandalised, and we paid good money for this!"

Blackmore: "When I got back to the hotel, I went straight to my room. All of a sudden, there's somebody bashing on my door and it's the manager, with a policeman. He said 'Would you mind coming with us. We're going up to Mr Marriott's room."

"This room was destroyed - I mean, destroyed! It's knee deep in glass from where all these mirrors had been smashed. The way the cops found out was through some bloke, who'd been driving along. A portable record player had flown out the window and fallen down, just missing his car by about a foot."

Marriott: "The police were there interviewing us, and all this. And we were saying 'This was stolen, that was stolen,' and like Wiggy was seen carrying an armchair and throwing it over. He's got a bald head and there's this wig hanging by the bed and they're talking to him, 'Do you know a bald man?' and he said 'No.' It was wonderful and we got out of it. I thought 'Great, the next night would be cool.'"

The damage, estimated at $40, was innocently reported in the next day's edition of The Dominion, as Marriott's room was being rebuilt.

Meanwhile, Blackmore and Pridden had their work cut out for them at the Wellington Town Hall, trying to avoid the sound problems experienced in Auckland.

However meticulous they may have been, the venue's ancient piano was still woefully out of tune - a fact Marriott angrily commented on at the 6 o'clock show. While his back was turned, Moon sprayed Marriott's black Gibson pink, with "MARRIOTT" in gold lettering. "I couldn't use it," the style-conscious mod cackled, "so I let Townshend smash it on stage that night!"

Many of the audience had travelled up from Christchurch for these final shows, which had already made news, due to local 2ZB disc jockey, Paddy O'Donnell refusing to compere them. O'Donnell had read reports of the groups' so-called behaviour and "did not want to be associated with a show which put on such a stage presentation for young New Zealanders".

Blackmore says, the last shows in Wellington were probably the best of the whole tour.

"It was really because they just thought 'F*** it, it's all over after this, so let's just relax'".

Still celebrating being 21, the end-of-tour partying continued in Marriott's suite at the Waterloo Hotel, which swiftly escalated out of control again. Marriott: "Come the evening, Keith comes up with Wiggy and says 'They done a great job, haven't they?' and immediately put an ashtray through the French windows and off it goes again.

"The second time it was like 'Oh God, we can't get away with it,' so instead, Keith put on his bravado which was always funny to watch."

Wiggy: "By now, it's getting late, it's about 3 o'clock in the morning. First of all there was a knock on the door and it was 'Can you please quieten down in there', which we totally ignored, and then it was the police and Keith and I thought it was quite amazing that the police all stayed. They were quite young and good-natured, but the manager was pretty pissed off because everything was smashed. Half of it was missing! Keith and I were just in fits because the manager came in his pyjamas with a dressing gown."

Marriott: "Keith put the manager's tie in his drink and said 'I did it. Whatcha f***ing gonna do about it? Moon's the name.' So I think he took most of the rap for that, which he should have done really."

The morning of Thursday February 1, the groups caught an internal flight to Auckland to prepare for the long journey home.

"I went with them to the airport" said Blackmore, "and I remember shaking hands with each of them and apologising. They were saying "F*** it, we don't want to come back here again'.

"I said 'I don't blame you for that but the one thing I do want to say is that I really believe you made the right decision by honouring these last gigs'".

Tabloid The Truth printed a damning tour epitaph a week later. In a muck-raking article "Kiwi Kids Fell Sucker to a Mob of Scruffs" journalist Paul Rodgers' invective spilled over.

"They're the scruffiest bunch of Poms that ever milked money from this country's kids ... they took nearly 8000 teenagers for $2.60 to $3.60 each. All the kids got for their money was an ear-splitting cacophony that was neither musical nor funny ... they did more to harm the British image in a few days than Harold Wilson or Edward Heath could do in 10 years.

"I'm ashamed to have come from the same country as these unwashed, foul-mouthed, booze swilling no-hopers. Britain can have them."


The Who

Pete Townshend - guitarist, musical genius, rampant vandal
Keith Moon - drummer, prankster, madman, died 1978
Roger Daltrey - singer, microphone twirler
John Entwhistle - bass player, died 2002

The Small Faces

Steve Marriott - guitarist frontman, died 1991
Ronnie Lane - bassist, died 1997
Ian McLagan - keyboardist
Kenny Jones - drummer, who eventually replaced Keith Moon in the Who

The crew

Ron Blackmore - Australian tour manager, died some time in the 1990s
Wiggy - Who roadie John Wolfe
Bob Pridden - longtime Who sound enginee

Who: The Who, great British rock band _ now fronted by surviving members Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey
When & Where: North Shore Harbour Stadium, Saturday March 21, 2009. On sale via Ticketmaster Monday November 17.
Also: A Fortnight of Furore available from www.thewho.net/australia/ or www.ugly-things.com/