Before the Who, there were the Detours and they used to play at The White Hart.
Roger Daltrey formed the group in 1959 and, over the next two years, brought in bassist John Johns, later known as John Entwistle who, in turn, suggested guitarist Pete Townshend. By 1962, Doug Sandom was on drums and the band was playing regularly at venues like the White Hart in Acton.
On New Year’s Day, the White Hart, now known as the Aeronaut, was severely damaged in a fire that broke out thirty minutes after the start of the new year. It took the London Fire Brigade four hours before they announced that the fire was under control.
The club had a long list of acts for their New Year’s party including circus performers, comedians and musicians, some of which had to be rescued off of the roof after the fire started. People living in an apartment above the club also had to be saved.
The Evening Standard reported that the fire started when a candle was placed too close to a Christmas Tree.
Members of The Who’s press team published a statement on the fire on Thursday:
Sad to report that the White Hart Hotel in Acton burnt down in the early hours of 1 January 2017. Fortunately all 340 customers and the staff of 12 were all OK. In recent years the White Hart had been known as the Redback and more recently, the Aeronaut. But back in February 1963 a Monday night residency at the White Hart was given to a local “jazz and jive” group called The Detours. They were paid the princely sum of £10 for their nightly appearances. The Detours were of course, singer and guitarist Roger Daltrey, guitarist Pete Townshend, bass guitarist John Johns (Entwistle) and drummer Doug Sandom. The booking for the residency was made by local promoter Bob Druce of Commercial Entertainments Ltd. Pete’s mum, Betty Townshend often drove the group and their equipment to the White Hart in her yellow Ford van which she used for her antiques business. Many thanks to Mark Hazlewood for letting us know about the tragic fire and for kindly sending us the photograph. The owners of the pub have said they hope to rebuild it but that will take some time.