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BY 01/13


“Quadrophenia”, one of the studio albums of British rock band The Who, is 40 years old. Released in 1973 in the UK and the USA, a long-time chart topper, “Quadrophenia” is regarded as one of the all-time best albums by US magazine Rolling Stone, and received the “Classic Album Award” from British magazine Classic Rock. The title is a lexical variation on “schizophrenia”, in the sense of a “dissociative disturbance of the identity”: quadrophenia reflects the four personalities (and moods) of Jimmy, the tormented protagonist of the rock opera set in 1960s Britain. All the tracks were written by Pete Townsend, the leader of the Who.

Quadrophenia: the final scene

The eponymous film directed by Franc Roddam and taken from The Who’s album was released in 1979; the rock band were the movie’s executive producers. The “Quadrophenia” film tells the story of Jimmy, a follower of the Mods, a youth group that had repeated clashes with the rival Rockers group during the 1960s, creating havoc in British towns. The conflict was also a question of values and lifestyles: the Mods (from the word Modernists) were well-dressed youngsters who rode Italian scooters like the Lambretta and the Vespa. Their antagonists were the Rockers, whose style was inspired by 1950s American rock and roll devotees: leather jackets and large motorbikes. One of the film’s characters is Ace Face, played by British singer Sting, the idol of the Mods, a good-looking fair-haired youth with perfect style, always seen riding a scooter everyone envied: a fantastic super-accessorised Vespa, with extra-large lights (which became a distinctive feature of its imitators). The Mod Vespa used by Sting in the film was shown in the Piaggio Museum, during the popular “The Vespa and the Movies” exhibition (2011). Actor and director Alessandro Gassman was unable to resist sitting on the scooter for a photo.
Even today the Mods are still with us: numerous clubs and blogs in the UK take their inspiration from them. They also proliferate in Asia: in Jakarta a group of devotees has set up a special website (themodgeneration.com). The Mod look intrigues the younger generations. In response, today’s stylists are reinterpreting the fashions and tastes of the “fabulous Sixties”.