The Acid Queen

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"The Acid Queen"
Song by The Who
from the album Tommy
Released23 May 1969
Recorded19 September 1968 to 7 March 1969
Songwriter(s)Pete Townshend
Producer(s)Kit Lambert

"The Acid Queen" is a song written by Pete Townshend and is the ninth song on the Who's rock opera album Tommy. Townshend also sings the lead vocal. The song tells the attempts of Tommy's parents to try to cure him. They leave him with an eccentric gypsy, a self-proclaimed "Acid Queen", who feeds Tommy various hallucinogenic drugs and performs sexually in an attempt to free him from isolation.

Several notable singers have performed the song including Merry Clayton, Patti LaBelle, Bette Midler and Tina Turner.


"The Acid Queen" is often grouped with the album's next track, "Underture", a lengthy instrumental which deals with Tommy's hallucinations and his experience with acid. The one cover song on Tommy, "Eyesight to the Blind", may have been included to introduce the character of the acid queen.[1] Tommy's parents take Tommy to the Acid Queen to see if her "lascivious attentions" can cure Tommy of his ills.[2] However, she is unsuccessful in awakening him.[2]

Pete Townshend used Tommy's blindness to represent our "...blindness to reality." The Acid Queen symbolized mindless self-indulgence, and attempted to use drugs to cure Tommy's ailments: deafness, muteness and blindness." Townshend has also said that "The song's not just about acid: it's the whole drug thing, the drink thing, the sex thing wrapped into one big ball. It's about how you get it laid on you that if you haven't fucked forty birds, taken sixty trips, drunk fourteen pints or whatever...society – people – force it on you. She represents this force."[3][2]

Who biographer John Atkins describes the song as "a distinctive and fully matured song in which Pete's vocals give a fine sense of urgency, suggesting that a sexual as well as drug initiation is being offered by the character.[1] Chris Charlesworth calls it "one of the best songs on Tommy".[3]


Tina Turner version[edit]

"Acid Queen"
Tina Turner - Acid Queen (single).jpg
1978 German picture sleeve
Single by Tina Turner
from the album Acid Queen
B-side"Let's Spend The Night Together"
ReleasedJanuary 1976 (UK)
1978 (Germany)
StudioBolic Sound (Inglewood, California)
GenreRock, soul
LabelUnited Artists, EMI
Songwriter(s)Pete Townshend
Producer(s)Danny Diante, Spencer Proffer
Tina Turner singles chronology
"Whole Lotta Love"
"Acid Queen"
"Under My Thumb"

"Acid Queen" is the third single released from the Tina Turner album Acid Queen, following "Baby, Get It On" and "Whole Lotta Love". The single was released in the UK in January 1976.[4] The record was produced by Danny Diante and Spencer Proffer.[5] "Acid Queen" was Turner's last single before her departure from the Ike & Tina Turner Revue in 1976.

A different recording of the song is also included on the soundtrack album to the 1975 film Tommy in which Turner stars as the Acid Queen. The original soundtrack version of the song has been featured in the Tina Turner compilation albums The Collected Recordings - Sixties to Nineties (1994), Tina! (2008) and The Platinum Collection (2009). It has also been included in some Ike & Tina Turner compilations, including Proud Mary: The Best of Ike & Tina Turner (1991).

The song was also featured on Turner's 50th Anniversary Tour in 2008 with added elements of "Won't Get Fooled Again" and was included on the DVD of the live album Tina Live.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Acid Queen" – 3:01
  2. "Let's Spend the Night Together" – 2:58

Official versions[edit]

  • Original soundtrack version – 3:50
  • Album version – 3:01

References in other media[edit]

Bob Dylan's song "Murder Most Foul"—released in March 2020, but recorded at an unknown, earlier date—references both "The Acid Queen" and "Tommy Can You Hear Me?"[6][7]


  1. ^ a b Atkins, John (2000). The Who on Record: A Critical History, 1963-1998. MacFarland. pp. 118, 122. ISBN 9781476606576.
  2. ^ a b c Grantley, S.; Parker, A.G. (2010). The Who by Numbers. Helter Skelter Publishing. p. 65. ISBN 9781905139262.
  3. ^ a b Charlesworth, C. (1995). The Complete Guide to the Music of the Who. Omnibus Press. p. 26. ISBN 0711943060.
  4. ^ "Singles Reviews". Blues & Soul. January 27, 1976.
  5. ^ "Billboard's Top Album Picks" (PDF). Billboard: 52. August 30, 1975.
  6. ^ Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (March 27, 2020). "Bob Dylan releases first original song in eight years, 17-minute track about JFK". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077.
  7. ^ Willman, Chris (March 27, 202). "Bob Dylan Releases 17-Minute Song About JFK Assassination". Variety.