It’s a frustrating situation that has befallen every music-loving Milwaukeean from time to time: you hear your favorite band is going on tour and eagerly scan the list of dates, only to find our fair city conspicuously absent from its logical slot between Minneapolis and Chicago. Most of us just grumble, forget about it, or resign ourselves to heading south to catch the show. But in 1982, a local rock jock by the name of Tim The Rock ’N’ Roll Animal, feeling snubbed by The Who, decided to take a stand against this very serious injustice and did what any reasonable rock ’n’ roll animal would do: climb out onto a 21st story ledge and refuse to budge until things were made right.
At the time, during the tail end of AOR radio’s golden age, Tim, who naturally took his on-air persona from the 1974 Lou Reed album which he was fond of blasting early in the morning much to his roommate’s chagrin, was employed at popular local rock station 93QFM, filling the 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. slot. Meanwhile, The Who, who had been struggling to find their way since the death of drummer Keith Moon four years prior, were burnt out, and announced that the tour promoting their latest album, the grimly titled It’s Hard, would be their last. When Milwaukee didn’t make their itinerary, the Animal wasn’t having any of it; on September 16, he began his courageous protest, issuing an ultimatum and exiting out the lofty studio window, all while still hosting his show.
As you may have guessed by now, Tim’s scheme to the coerce the band into playing Milwaukee one last time weren’t solely motivated by overzealous fanboy enthusiasm, since the station was also locked in a fierce ratings war with competitor WLPX, and management had instructed talent to juice their numbers anyway they could. Initially, the publicity stunt didn’t seem to be working, but after realizing their local peers weren’t exactly eager to give them coverage, they reached out further afield, first to nearby markets like Steven’s Point and eventually grabbing attention from some national news services. Soon it was too big of a story to be ignored by the other area media outlets, and even their rivals at WLPX had to fold and offer their own (highly superficial) support, lest they be left out completely.
As day after day went by, speculation only intensified as to how Tim would be stuck up there, and especially what would happen should there be no word of the band changing their plans before winter set in. He had been relatively comfortable up there, enjoying food sent over by area restaurants looking to get in on the action, sleeping on an old army cot and receiving moral support from thousands of motorists honking in encouragement as they passed the QFM studios at 606 W. Wisconsin Avenue, but, over time, he’d gotten a little loopy. When, after two long weeks the Animal received a call from Roger Daltrey, who told him “You can come down now,” he wasn’t sure whether to believe what he was hearing or not, but soon breathed a sigh of relief.
A performance at the MECCA Arena, now the US Cellular Arena, was hastily added to the second leg of their “Farewell Tour”, which provided 13,000 Milwaukeeans with something to brag about until, of course, the band started touring again in 1989 (playing Alpine Valley that time around), and proceeded to hit the road periodically for years to come, though they’ve only came back to Milwaukee proper once since then, stopping at the Marcus Amphitheater in 1996. Now, the band has announced they’re embarking on yet another jaunt, one that Daltrey described as “the beginning of a long goodbye.” So far, the dates are confined to the UK, but it seems doubtful there’s a Milwaukee show in the works. That is, unless some brave soul steps up and does something about it.