Mods are the main theme in Quadrophenia. In the mid-60's
the mods were a movement of the youth in England. Mod derives
from the word 'modern'. To be a Mod means primarly, always
to be up to date, to be orientated at the newest trends and
therefore to make an incredible cool impact.
If you were a Mod you were obgliged to wear the best and
newest clothes, Italian shoes, hip shirts and a "Zoot Suit
Jacket". Above all these clothes almost any Mod wore a
parker which protects all those expensive clothes against
wind and weather and which keeps warm outside. If you were
a Mod you normally drove a scooter, preferably a GS Scooter
or suchlike. Those scooters were extensively pimped, twinkling
chrome and a dozen of rear mirrors were a must have, the more
the better. In the evenings and on weekends the Mods got
together predominantly in clubs and discotheques to addict
to the newest dancing trends. Naturally amphetamines were
a usual companion. Of course this whole life style costed
a large sum of money and only the one who had a job could
afford with that. Having no job means having no money means
not wearing the hippest clothes and finally means not to be
a Mod and be part of it all.
The counterpart of the Mods were the Rockers, longhaired,
unwashed and with greasy and often torn leather clothes in
which they drove around on their motorbikes which were anything
except chrome twinkling. So each group has had their antagonistic
counterpart and wherever they crossed their way it results
in a more or less heavy hassle and confrontation. In 1964
dozens of mass fights took place at the seasides of Brighton,
Margate and Hastings.
The main character in Quadrophenia is Jimmy, a convinced Mod
and a member of a typical mod clique. One day he meets his old
school mate Kevin in the public baths. They compare notes
about their past and Jimmy tells him about his living style
and how it is being a Mod. But Kevin can't do anything with that.
He does not belong to any youth group. Indeed he owns a motorbike
but he uses it purely as a driving thing. Living after any rules
of a trendy movement makes no sense at all to Kevin. Though
Jimmy enjoys the meeting with Kevin he does not tell anyone
about their encounter firstly.
Jimmy still lives at home. His parents are not appreciative of
him being a Mod, his sister of same age isn't either. They reckon
him to be a no-good who loafs around in discotheques all night
long and who drives around on his motorcycle all the time instead
of taking life seriously and showing up at job on time. But Jimmy
does not really care with all that because he gains all the needed
recognition from the mod clique. Furthermore he takes glances at
Steph but currently she seems not be very interested in an affair
is also Ace, the coolest Mod of all and Jimmys big archetype.
One day one
of his friends is smashed up by the rockers. The mod clique
seeks revenge. Jimmy and the others are driving through the
city and they catch the first supposed to be rocker they can find.
They beat him furiously and when the alleged rocker looses his
motorcycle helmet Jimmy discovers that the victim is his mate
Kevin. Freaking out that Kevin could notice him, Jimmy vaults
on his scooter and rushes away without helping his friend.
event Jimmy feels completely spacy and helplessly. He bothers
with self-doubt, sadness, anger and helplessness. On the one hand
the mod clique represents an emotinal home for him, on the other
hand he begins to recognise a kind of senselessness about being
a Mod. Anyhow Jimmy still admits being a Mod and he can't even
imagine being anyone else. But somehow he feels more often empty
and he gets into a mood which he can't explain exactly. Eventually
the amphetamine pills bring him moments of bliss. And he is
expedited by the hope to succeed in the liaison thing with Steph
some day. Not to forget Ace, to whom he can look up and who gives
him bravery and energy.
Then everyone's preparing for the great event on the following
weekend in Brighton. Nobody knows why of all things Brighton and
what would expect them there but everyone talks about Brighton.
And the following weekend caravans of scooters on the one hand
and motorbikes on the other hand are driving towards the english
It seems that all Mods of England
are in Brighton at this date. All are there, Jimmy, his friends,
Steph and of course Ace too.
Though also many rockers have arrived in Brighton they seem to
be in an inferior quantity.
And suddenly the whole thing starts, something gets the ball
of battles rolling. Mods and rockers are forcing themselves one
another through the streets and along the pier.
Shop windows break, noninvolved passers-by
are molested and escape away. Down at the beach mods and rockers
are fighting violently.
driven and ridden police arrives who hardly try to get the
situation under control. Now it's no more a matter of mods
against rockers but moreover mods, rockers and police against
each other. Again the mod troops are running through the streets
and trying to escape the police and gathering together again.
After the group of mods were dispersed
again suddenly Jimmy and Steph meet in this obscure chaos. They
both defy access control of the police narrowly and escape into
a cramped backyard. Here they can hear the distant noise of the
melee and are now surrounded by a relaxing quietness which seems
to have been created just for them. The couple savour this
sentimental moment and Steph lets it happen that they make
Afterwards they step back into the turmoil and just a moment
later Jimmy is accessed by a policeman and arrested in a police
car where he needs to take place face to face with a few rockers.
But Jimmy's face enlightens when he realises that Ace sits besides
him who was arrested by the police too. However, Jimmy has lost
Steph out of sight yet.
Totally a dozen of mods are detained
and cited to justice on Monday after that weekend, among them
Ace and Jimmy. In an endless debate the judge blames them for
being the scum of mankind and and and ... Finally he imposes
a fine on them whereon Ace immediately pulls out his checkbook
and asking if he can pay right away accompanied by broad laughter
of the attendant mods. For Jimmy Ace remains the coolest Mod of
Of course the daily newspapers report of the battles in
Brighton and after returning home Jimmy takes stick over it
by his parents. How annoying! And when he appears at the job
on Tuesday his boss gives him a severe lecture too and why
Jimmy was absent on Monday without excuse and Jimmy shall be
grateful to have such a job and and and ...
Recently these adventures in Brighton,
together with the mods, with Steph and Ace, and now the daily
grind. At first the thing with Kevin which still depresses Jimmy,
then the judge in Brighton, his parents and finally his boss.
That's too much! Jimmy interrupts the directors flood of words
and quits his job. He just wants to be as cool as Ace. Jimmy
isn't willing to show his face at home again and he drives
to the local pub of the mod clique and tells them that he has
quit his job. Again he earns a rather lack of understanding,
this time from his mod mates. Having no job means being no mod.
Furthermore, Jimmy hasn't seen Steph since Brighton but right
now she comes in, walking arm in arm with one of his friends.
And as they begin making a few innuendoes about a definite event
in Brighton Jimmy freaks out completely. He rips into his friend
and the clique tries hard to separate the both rivals. With
this action Jimmy looses his remaining credits completely and
The next day Jimmy catches Steph in the
streets to talk things out. But Steph is not very appreciative
of his behaviour. Disappointed and frustrated Jimmy vaults on
his scooter and rushes away. Right at the next crossroads he
crashes into a van and his beloved scooter remains as scrap.
Despairingly and even more frustrated Jimmy takes the
5:15 train to Brighton to the location of afterglow.
He visits the pier,
the beach and the backyard where he and Steph made love. It all
appears to him like a psychic trauma.
While Jimmy strolls along the seafront
he suddenly spots Ace's scooter parking outside a hotel. Just
a moment later he sees Ace leaving the hotel doorway. He wears
a hotel uniform and welcomes an arriving guest. Ace grabs the
guests baggage and packed with all those cases and bags he
tries to keep steps. Jimmy can't believe his eyes, Ace is a
bellboy! Ace, who he believed was great and cool, was nothing
but a mediocre bellboy. Jimmys last illusion bursts like a
Totally disenchanted Jimmy takes Ace's scooter and drives
away. Aimlessly he drives through Brighton, along the seafront
and finally out of Brighton. He drives the way along the cliffs
of the South English seaside. Jimmy drives faster and faster
until he looses control over the scooter. At full throttle
the scooter flies over the cliff's sheer and breaks into
smithereens on the rocks.
This is the end of Quadrophenia. The title Quadrophenia
is derived from different meanings. At first it shall
distinguish Jimmys mood. Quadrophrenic is an enhancement
degree of schizophrenic which characterizes not only a
two-split but rather a four-split personality. Secondly the
music of Quadrophenia includes four themes which represent
the four members of the Who. And last but not least it was
planned to record the album with quadrophonic sound technique.
When Quadrophenia was originally released in 1973 the technology
was more or less mature to reproduce a quadrophonic sound where
the music comes out of 4 speakers instead of 2 speakers (stereo).
Quadrophenia would have been one of the first records which
were released with the newly invented sound technique.
Nonetheless quadrophonic sound did not gain pre-commercial
development at that time.