Pete Townshend
Musician, composer, musical arranger, author
Pete Townshend
Peter Dennis Blandford "Pete" Townshend is an English rock guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and author, known principally as the guitarist and songwriter for the rock group The Who, as well as for his own solo career. His career with The Who spans more than 40 years, during which time the band grew to be considered one of the most influential bands of the 1960s and 1970s, and, according to Eddie Vedder, "possibly the greatest live band ever.
Pete Townshend's personal information overview.
News abour Pete Townshend from around the web
How to Spot Fake News
Huffington Post - 3 months
How bad is the fake news phenomenon? A man who was "self-investigating" a fake news story was arrested after shooting his assault rifle in a Washington, D.C. pizzeria. President-Elect Trump fired a member of his transition team for sharing fake news. And the Wall Street Journal is attracting new readers by promising their stories are "created, curated and checked in a real newsroom." The good news is you don't have to subscribe to the Journal to get "real" news. You just have to know how to spot the fake stuff. Having spent the past three years speaking to audiences around the country and writing a book about misleading information, here are the questions I think you should be asking: Who is reporting the story? Some media outlets are (much) more trustworthy than others. Is it possible for The Washington Post to publish a fake story? Of course. Is it likely that they'll do this on a regular basis? Probably not, because their readership and reputation are built on t ...
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Huffington Post article
The Who's Pete Townshend draws blood during final day's set at Desert Trip
LATimes - 4 months
All six Desert Trip rock superstars put considerable sweat into performances in Indio over the last two weekends, and some even inspired tears from fans. But only one appeared to literally draw blood That was the Who’s lead guitarist and chief songwriter Pete Townshend, who managed to nick his...
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LATimes article
The Night Bob Dylan Made Sense
Huffington Post - 4 months
Twenty-four years ago, a concert predicted Dylan's future as a Nobel Laureate. Bob Dylan is officially the songwriter with the most bling. He's got plaques, statues, gramophones, and now a Nobel Prize in Literature. True to form, the Minnesota-born singer performed a career-spanning set at the Desert Trip music festival in California Friday night but never mentioned the amazing honor bestowed upon him Thursday morning. What a rock and roll thing to do: ignore the elephant in the room simply by being the bigger elephant. He's more decorated than Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Pete Townshend, and Neil Young. With his new prize, Dylan has won the crown for all time. For America. But if Dylan is a living, breathing national hero, why have we been eulogizing him since he was a young man, almost as if he was dead ? I first asked this question when I attended a 30th anniversary Dylan tribute concert at Madison Square Garden. It was October 16, 1992, and the marquee read, "Columbia Recor ...
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Huffington Post article
Ben Weinman and the Business of Responsible Creativity
Huffington Post - 9 months
"Life has no meaning When it's not justified." -- "I Love Secret Agents" by the Dillinger Escape Plan Many people know that the Dillinger Escape Plan, with Ben Weinman as a founding member, is considered by many to be the best mathcore band in history. Mathcore is a genre of music that interpreted metalcore -- a brutal mix of hardcore punk and extreme metal -- using unusual time signatures to produce a chaotic and innovative sound. Their influence on the genre has been severe, with Pitchfork calling their 1999 debut Calculating Infinity a "game-changing album." While this achievement may be enough for Weinman to put his unique stamp on the world, he does not want to stop there. With his label, Party Smasher Inc., Weinman has been taking things to the next level. He wants to help foster a community that encourages the same independent, risk-taking spirit of the hardcore scene that ultimately made the Dillinger Escape Plan so influential. With the new partnership of P ...
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Huffington Post article
Why Self-Coverage May Not Be An Adequate Substitute for Long-term Care Planning and Insurance
Huffington Post - about 1 year
"I hope I die before I get old." -My Generation- The Who, 1965 Most Boomers were just coming of age when Pete Townsend wrote "My Generation." Now, 50 years later, most boomers are still alive and likely will be for another 20, 30, or even 40 more years. That said, we may be living longer, but we are not necessarily living better. Despite the advances in medical technology and pharmaceuticals that are enabling us to live longer, lifestyle-related chronic health conditions certainly continue to take their toll. The Huge Hole Nearly every American has a huge hole in his or her financial plan that can have a dramatic impact on retirement income, legacy, and the lives of loved ones. The lack of a long-term care (LTC) plan and a way to pay for it, even for those considered high net worth, invites chaos, uncertainty, and perhaps dread. "Will I have enough?" For many who are now living beyond their means, saving too little, or mortgaging their retirement to pay for college ex ...
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Huffington Post article
Top Ten Films of 2015
Huffington Post - about 1 year
When you read other Top Ten Film lists, consider that the journalists do not give equal weight to docs, animation and dramatic features, nor foreign versus American indies and studio pictures. Perhaps, they should call their lists "Top Ten Films That We All Generally Write About." 1. Wild Tales (dir. Damian Szifron) Argentine writer-director Damian Szifron has a darkly hilarious confection in these six wonderfully imaginative scenarios. Oscar nominated for Foreign film, Wild Tales also swept through the Argentine Academy Awards, its crazy tales of retribution due to road rage, infidelity at a wedding and the like connecting with the common man and woman. 2. Spotlight (dir. Tom McCarthy) Can Michael Keaton pick them or what? Last year, he headlined Birdman, the best film of the year. Now, he leads a tremendous ensemble cast, including Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Stanley Tucci and Jamey Sheridan, in the story of the Boston Globe's expose of molestation in the Catholic Church. M ...
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Huffington Post article
The Altercation Holiday Gift-Giving Guide, Part II
Huffington Post - about 1 year
So I guess this won't work for Hannukah, but it should still be good for: A) Returning stuff and getting what you might really have wanted, and: B) Some other gift-giving holiday upon whom I, and so many others, have declared war, but against which we continue to struggle. I dare not say its name lest enemy forces take encouragement. C) People who already have "The River" box since it's not reviewed here nor in Part I. In terms of big-ticket items, every year I look to my friends at Mosaic for the most meticulously presented packages in Jazz curation and this year their entry is indeed impresive, both in terms of the richness of its music and, for yours truly, its educational value. (Mosaic is to Jazz what the Criterion Collection is to film.) I refer today to the 12 cd, The Complete Bee Hive Sessions, and I was entirely unaware of the label's history. What Bee Hive did, between 1977 to 1984, was to give free reign to veteran jazz musicians who had not recorded in a while ...
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Huffington Post article
Music's Fantastic 15 of 2015: Here's Wishing These Top Performers a Very Best Fest
Huffington Post - about 1 year
Put yourself in the mind of a music festival organizer. It might get somewhat cozy in there, considering how much wheeling and dealing goes on in that noggin year-round. Planning for the next year's event must begin as soon as this year's ends. Admittedly, I don't have the qualifications for that line of work, but we do share a passion for music. And while I prefer on my own time to listen and write about a fairly wide range of genres, including the various sub-genres of rock, pop, folk, Americana (whatever that is) and the blues, assembling this list of 15 favorite acts of 2015 gives me the chance to compile my own festival lineup -- in my brain at least. This personal collection is based on my own subjective guidelines, beginning with one essential requirement -- these folks must talk a good game as well as play one. So any musician I interviewed for an article that already has appeared online or in print this calendar year was in the running. (Sorry Kendrick Lamar and Taylor ...
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Huffington Post article
16 Gift Ideas for Your Guitar Playing Bookworm
Huffington Post - about 1 year
I was in the bookstore recently and picked up this new book by Mitch Albom called The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto. It's a book of fiction about the greatest guitar player who ever lived. That got me thinking: Who is the greatest guitar player that ever lived? What makes this person so great? Does it have to do with how good they can play, their accolades and accomplishments, or their personal history -- or is it a combination of all of the above? As someone who has interviewed a lot of guitar players, I also spend quite a bit of time reading about them. If you are thinking about buying the guitar player on your holiday wish list a book this year, you might consider one of these titles. (Please note: These are not all New Releases. . . .just some that I've either read or have researched . . . in no particular order.) 1.) Joe Perry: ROCKS by David Ritz 2.) Buddy Guy: When I Left Home by David Ritz 3.) Hendrix: Setting the Record Straight by John McDermott 4.) Joe S ...
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Huffington Post article
It's a Party. Bring Your Gun.
Huffington Post - over 1 year
There's a Miley Cyrus song, Party in the USA. Welcome to my party. If it weren't for Larry this party would never have happened. Oddly, I never met him. Never spoke to him. Never saw a photo of him until after. Yet Larry changed my life, my wife's, a mother's, a father's, the lives of two other brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, my nephews, the 140 members of an honor society dedicated to global sustainability, the more than 18,000 students and faculty at a university, and the people in a small village in Tanzania, in the most profound way possible. Here's what I know about Larry. He was my niece Becca's boyfriend. He played guitar. He lived in Columbus, OH. He had some sort of job. Becca broke up with him. Larry trashed his apartment, including his fridge and then went all Pete Townshend on his guitar. Becca fled. He later drove down to her campus housing and shot Becca to death in her sleep. Then Larry lay down next to Becca and shot himself in the head. Larry left not one ...
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Huffington Post article
Electronica</em> and Grande Amore</em>: Chatting With Jean-Michel Jarre and Gianluca Ginoble, Plus Patrick Breen, the Battlefield and Ted Drozdowski's Scissormen Exclusives
Huffington Post - over 1 year
A Conversation with Jean-Michel Jarre Mike Ragogna: Bonjour, Jean-Michel! Doesn't it seem like yesterday when you created your classic electronic album Oxygène? Jean-Michel Jarre: Absolutely. It's true in a lifetime span, what it means when you are working and I think it's true for everybody, whatever you do in that path of your life and it's also true in the context of electronic music. I've been really privileged, being one of the guys in electronic music in the days when it was just considered a bunch of crazy guys working with crazy machines. I remember far before Oxygène when I started being involved in electronic music in Pierre Schaeffer's Music Research Center in Paris and with Karlheinz Stockhausen in Germany, that was really very far away from rock 'n' roll. But I've always been convinced that electronic music was more than just a genre of music like pop or rock or punk or hip-hop but actually a new way of writing, composing, producing even distributing music these d ...
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Huffington Post article
Film Clip: 'Lambert & Stamp'
Wall Street Journal - almost 2 years
Watch a film clip from the documentary "Lambert &amp; Stamp," starring Pete Townshend and Chris Stamp. Photo: Colin Jones/TopFoto/The Image Works
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Wall Street Journal article
Natalie Imbruglia Unveils The Dark And Dreamy Cover Of Comeback LP ‘Male’
Idolator - almost 2 years
Natalie Returns With A Daft Punk Cover And she's (almost) back! Natalie Imbruglia's comeback single is a Daft Punk cover. MORE &gt;&gt; One of the most exciting (and unexpected) pop comebacks of 2015 is the long-overdue return of Natalie Imbruglia. While the singer/songwriter’s output has been infrequent since the release of 1997 debut LP Left Of The Middle, the quality has been consistently high. (For a crash course in all things Imbruglia, start with 2005’s gorgeous “Shiver” and receive pure life from 2009’s twisted “Want”). The 40-year-old’s first album in six years is a collection of covers originally recorded by men — hence the title Male — and she unveiled the arresting, somewhat ominous cover today ...
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Idolator article
Flashback: The Who Reunite In '89, Seven Years After Saying 'Farewell'
Rolling Stone - about 3 years
Most fans of the Who point to the band's 1989 reunion tour as their absolute low point as a live act Not only did Pete Townshend play acoustic guitar most of the night to protect his damaged hearing but the five-man lineup of their 1982 farewell tour suddenly swelled to...
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Rolling Stone article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Pete Townshend
  • 2016
    Age 70
    He and Daltrey received The George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement at UCLA on 21 May 2016.
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  • 2012
    Age 66
    Townshend later wrote in his 2012 autobiography Who I Am that he at one point felt as if he was "probably bisexual".
    More Details Hide Details Townshend also stated jokingly that he once felt sexually attracted to The Rolling Stones lead singer, Mick Jagger.
    After a lengthy delay, Townshend's autobiography, now titled Who I Am, was released 8 October 2012.
    More Details Hide Details The book ranked in the top 5 of the New York Times best seller list in October 2012. Townshend showed no predilection for religious belief in the first years of the Who's career. By the beginning of 1968, however, Townshend had begun to explore spiritual ideas. In January 1968, The Who recorded his song "Faith in Something Bigger" (Odds & Sods). Townshend's art school friend Mike McInnerney gave him a copy of C. B. Purdom's book The God-Man, introducing him to the writings of the Indian "perfect master" Meher Baba, who blended elements of Vedantic, Sufi, and Mystic schools. Townshend swiftly absorbed all of Baba's writings that he could find; by April 1968, he announced himself Baba's disciple. At about this time, Townshend, who had been searching the past two years for a basis for a rock opera, created a story inspired by the teachings of Baba and other writings and expressing the enlightenment he believed that he had received from them, which ultimately became Tommy. Tommy did more than revitalise the Who's career (which was moderately successful at this point but had reached a plateau); it also marked a renewal of Townshend's songwriting and his spiritual studies infused most of his work from Tommy forward, including the unfinished Who project Lifehouse. The Who song "Baba O'Riley", written for Lifehouse and eventually appearing on the album Who's Next, was named for Meher Baba and minimalist composer Terry Riley.
    The Who were the final performers at the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony in London, performing a medley of "Baba O'Riley", "See Me, Feel Me" and "My Generation".
    More Details Hide Details Townshend was born ten days after Nazi Germany surrendered in the Second World War and grew up in the shadow of reconstruction in and around London. According to Townshend, postwar trauma was the driving force behind the rock music revolution in the UK. “Trauma is passed from generation to generation,” he said, “I’ve unwittingly inherited what my father experienced.” Townshend notes that growing up in this period produced the narrative that runs through his music of a boy lost in the stresses and pressures of postwar life. “I wasn’t trying to play beautiful music,” he wrote in his autobiography. “I was confronting my audience with the awful, visceral sound of what we all knew was the single absolute of our frail existence — one day an aeroplane would carry the bomb that would destroy us all in a flash. It could happen at any time.”
  • 2011
    Age 65
    On 4 November 2011, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend launched the Daltrey/Townshend Teen and Young Adult Cancer Program at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, to be funded by the Who's charity Who Cares.
    More Details Hide Details The launch, followed on 5 November by a fund-raising event, was also attended by Robert Plant and Dave Grohl. Townshend has also advocated for drug rehabilitation. In a 1985 radio interview, he said: The "large clinic" Townshend was referring to was a plan he and drug rehabilitation experimenter Meg Patterson had devised to open a drug treatment facility in London; however, the plan failed to come to fruition. Two early 1979 concerts by the Who raised £20,000 for Patterson's Pharmakon Clinic in Sussex. Further examples of Townshend's drug rehabilitation activism took place in the form of a 1984 benefit concert (incidentally the first live performance of Manchester band The Stone Roses), an article he wrote a few days later for Britain's Mail on Sunday urging better care for the nation's growing number of drug addicts, and the formation of a charitable organisation, Double-O Charities, to raise funds for the causes he'd recently championed. Townshend also personally sold fund-raising anti-heroin T-shirts at a series of UK Bruce Springsteen concerts and reportedly financed a trip for former Clash drummer Topper Headon to undergo drug rehabilitation treatment. Townshend's 1985–86 band, Deep End, played two benefits at Brixton Academy in 1985 for Double-O Charities.
    Referring to that, in July 2011, Townshend wrote at his blog: "My hearing is actually better than ever because after a feedback scare at the indigO2 in December 2008 I am taking good care of it.
    More Details Hide Details I have computer systems in my studio that have helped me do my engineering work on the forthcoming Quadrophenia release. I have had assistance from younger forensic engineers and mastering engineers to help me clean up the high frequencies that are out of my range. The same computer systems work wonderfully well on stage, proving to be perfect for me when the Who performed at the Super Bowl and doing Quadrophenia for TCT at the Royal Albert Hall in 2010. I'm 66, I don't have perfect hearing, and if I listen to loud music or go to gigs I do tend to get tinnitus." In 1998, Townshend was named in a list of the biggest private financial donors to the UK Labour Party. He refused to let Michael Moore use "Won't Get Fooled Again" in Fahrenheit 9/11, saying that he watched Bowling for Columbine and was not convinced. In 1961 while in art school, Townshend joined the Young Communist League and was a prominent figure in their 1966 "Trend" recruitment campaign. In a 1974 Penthouse interview he stated that in practice he was a capitalist rewarded well for his work, but his ideals were communist. On several other occasions he identified himself to the press as a communist.
    In March 2011, Roger Daltrey said in an interview with the BBC that Townshend had recently experienced gradual but severe hearing loss and was now trying to save what remained of his hearing: "Pete's having terrible trouble with his hearing.
    More Details Hide Details He's got really, really bad problems with it not tinnitus, it's deterioration and he's seriously now worried about actually losing his hearing."
    He was ranked No. 3 in Dave Marsh's list of Best Guitarists in The New Book of Rock Lists, No. 10 in's list of the top 50 guitarists, and No. 10 again in Rolling Stone magazine's updated 2011 list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.
    More Details Hide Details In 1983, Townshend received the Brit Award for Lifetime Achievement, in 1990 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Who, in 2001 received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award as a member of the Who, and in 2008 received Kennedy Center Honors.
  • 2010
    Age 64
    Neil Young introduced him to an audiologist who suggested he use an in-ear monitor, and although they cancelled their spring 2010 touring schedule, Townshend used the device at their one remaining London concert on 30 March 2010, to ascertain the feasibility of Townshend continuing to perform with the Who.
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    He also owns a house in Churt, Surrey and in 2010 purchased a lease of part of the National Trust property Ashdown House in Oxfordshire.
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  • 2009
    Age 63
    According to The Sunday Times Rich List his assets were worth £40 million as of 2009.
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  • 2007
    Age 61
    A production described as a Townshend rock opera and titled The Boy Who Heard Music debuted as part of Vassar College's Powerhouse Summer Theater program in July 2007.
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  • 2006
    Age 60
    In 2006 Townshend opened a website for implementation of The Lifehouse Method based on his 1971 Lifehouse concept.
    More Details Hide Details This website was in collaboration with composer Lawrence Ball and software developer David Snowden, with instrumentation by Steve Hills. Applicants at the website could input data to compose a musical "portrait" which the musical team could then develop into larger compositions for a planned concert or series of concerts. Other appearances include:
    In 2006 Townshend had a pedal board designed by long-time gear guru Pete Cornish.
    More Details Hide Details The board apparently is composed with a compressor, an old Boss OD-1 overdrive pedal, as well as a T-Rex Replica delay pedal. Over the years, Pete Townshend has used many types of amplifiers, including Vox, Selmer, Fender, Marshall, Hiwatt etc., sticking to using Hiwatt amps for most of four decades. Around the time of Who's Next, he used a tweed Fender Bandmaster amp (also given to him by Joe Walsh in 1970), which he also used for Quadrophenia and The Who by Numbers. While recording Face Dances and the collaborative album Rough Mix, Townshend made use of a Peavey Vintage 4X10 amplifier in the studio. Since 1989, his rig consisted of four Fender Vibro-King stacks and a Hiwatt head driving two custom made 2x12" Hiwatt/Mesa Boogie speaker cabinets. However, since 2006, he has only three Vibro-King stacks, one of which is a backup.
    On 25 February 2006, he announced the issue of a mini-opera inspired by the novella for June 2006.
    More Details Hide Details In October 2006 the Who released their first album in 26 years, Endless Wire. The Who performed at the Super Bowl XLIV half-time show on 7 February 2010, playing a medley of songs that included "Pinball Wizard", "Who Are You", "Baba O'Riley", "See Me Feel Me" and "Won't Get Fooled Again". In 2012, the Who announced they would tour the rock opera Quadrophenia.
    The blog closed in October 2006, as noted on Townshend's website.
    More Details Hide Details It is now owned by a different user and does not relate to Townshend's work in any way.
  • 2005
    Age 59
    Through much of 2005, Pete Townshend recorded and performed alongside his girlfriend Rachel Fuller, a classically trained pianist and singer-songwriter.
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    In 2005 Townshend performed at New York's Gotham Hall for Samsung's Four Seasons of Hope, an annual children's charity fundraiser.
    More Details Hide Details In the same year, he donated a smashed guitar to the Pediatric Epilepsy Project.
  • 2000
    Age 54
    As a member of the Who, Townshend has also performed a series of concerts, beginning in 2000 to benefit the Teenage Cancer Trust in the UK, and raising several million pounds.
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  • 1998
    Age 52
    His 1998 album A Benefit for Maryville Academy was made to support their activities and proceeds from the sales of his release were donated to them.
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  • 1997
    Age 51
    Between 1997 and 2002, Townshend played five benefit shows for Maryville Academy, raising at least $1,600,000.
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    In 1997, Townshend established a relationship with Maryville Academy, a Chicago area children's charity.
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  • 1995
    Age 49
    Townshend performed at a 1995 benefit organised by Paul Simon at Madison Square Garden's Paramount Theatre for the Children's Health Fund.
    More Details Hide Details The following year, Townshend performed at a benefit for the annual Bridge School Benefit, a California facility for children with severe speech and physical impairments, with concerts organised by Neil and Pegi Young.
  • 1994
    Age 48
    However, in a 1994 interview for Playboy, he said, "I did an interview about it, saying that "Rough Boys" was about being gay, and in the interview I also talked about my "gay life," which—I meant—was actually about the friends I've had who are gay.
    More Details Hide Details So the interviewer kind of dotted the t's and crossed the i's and assumed that this was a coming out, which it wasn't at all."
    Townshend and his wife separated in 1994 and divorced in 2009.
    More Details Hide Details Townshend currently lives with his long-time girlfriend, musician Rachel Fuller at The Wick, Richmond, London, England.
  • 1993
    Age 47
    In 1993, Townshend authored another book, The Who's Tommy, a chronicle of the development of the award-winning Broadway version of his rock opera.
    More Details Hide Details The opening of his personal website and his commerce site, both in 2000, gave Townshend another outlet for literary work. Several of Townshend's essays have been posted online, including "Meher Baba—The Silent Master: My Own Silence" in 2001, and "A Different Bomb", an indictment of the child pornography industry, the following year. In September 2005, Townshend began posting a novella online entitled The Boy Who Heard Music as background for a musical of the same name. He posted a chapter each week until it was completed, and novella was available to read at his website for several months. Like Psychoderelict, it was yet another extrapolation of Lifehouse and Ray High & The Glass Household. In 1997 Townshend signed a deal with Little, Brown and Company publishing to write his autobiography, reportedly titled Pete Townshend: Who He? Townshend's creative vagaries and conceptual machinations have been chronicled by Larry David Smith in his book The Minstrel's Dilemma (Praeger 1999).
    While the original novel remains unpublished, elements from this story were used in Townshend's 1993 solo album Psychoderelict.
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  • 1992
    Age 46
    Townshend has been an active champion of children's charities. The debut of Pete Townshend's stage version of Tommy took place at San Diego's La Jolla Playhouse in July 1992.
    More Details Hide Details The show was earmarked as a benefit for the London-based Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Foundation, an organisation which helps children with autism and intellectual disability.
  • 1989
    Age 43
    In 1989 Townshend began work on a novel entitled Ray High & The Glass Household, a draft of which was later submitted to his editor.
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    His friendship with Hughes led to Townshend's musical interpretation of Hughes's children's story The Iron Man, six years later, as The Iron Man: The Musical by Pete Townshend, released in 1989.
    More Details Hide Details Townshend has written several scripts spanning the breadth of his career, including numerous drafts of his elusive Lifehouse project, the last of which, co-written with radio playwright Jeff Young, was published in 1999. In 1978, Townshend wrote a script for Fish Shop, a play commissioned but not completed by London Weekend Television, and in mid-1984 he wrote a script for White City: A Novel which led to a short film.
  • 1984
    Age 38
    In 1984 Townshend contributed lyrics to the track "I'm the Answer" on his brother Simon's debut solo album Sweet Sound which was released as a single and features Townshend and Simon on an interview that wrongly names that the track was by "Peter Townshend".
    More Details Hide Details In 1984 Townshend contributed lyrics to two songs ("Love on The Air" and "All Lovers are Deranged") on David Gilmour's solo album About Face.
  • 1983
    Age 37
    In July 1983, Townshend took a position as an acquisitions editor for London publisher Faber and Faber.
    More Details Hide Details Notable projects included editing Animals frontman Eric Burdon's autobiography, Charles Shaar Murray's award-winning Crosstown Traffic: Jimi Hendrix and Post-War Pop, Brian Eno and Russell Mills's More Dark Than Shark, and working with Prince Charles on a volume of his collected speeches. Townshend commissioned Dave Rimmer's Like Punk Never Happened, and was commissioning editor for radical playwright Steven Berkoff. Two years after joining Faber and Faber, Townshend decided to publish a book of his own. Horse's Neck, issued in May 1985, was a collection of short stories he'd written between 1979 and 1984, tackling subjects such as childhood, stardom and spirituality. As a result of his position with Faber and Faber, Townshend developed friendships with both Nobel prize-winning author of Lord of the Flies, Sir William Golding, and British Poet Laureate Ted Hughes.
  • 1977
    Age 31
    Also in 1977, Townshend founded Eel Pie Publishing, which specialised in children's titles, music books, and several Meher Baba-related publications.
    More Details Hide Details He also opened a bookstore named Magic Bus (after the popular Who song) in London. The Story of Tommy, a book written by Townshend and his art school friend Richard Barnes (now the Who's official biographer) about the writing of Townshend's 1969 rock opera and the making of the 1975 Ken Russell-directed film, was published by Eel Pie the same year.
  • 1971
    Age 25
    In Love With Meher Baba described Townshend's spiritual leanings. "Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy", a blow-by-blow account of the Who compilation album of the same name, followed in December 1971.
    More Details Hide Details The third article, "The Punk Meets the Godmother", appeared in November 1977.
  • 1970
    Age 24
    Townshend also wrote three sizeable essays for Rolling Stone magazine, the first of which appeared in November 1970.
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    An early example of Townshend's writing came in August 1970 with the first of nine instalments of "The Pete Townshend Page", a monthly column written by Townshend for the British music paper Melody Maker.
    More Details Hide Details The column provided Townshend's perspective on an array of subjects, such as the media and the state of US concert halls and public address systems, as well as providing valuable insight into Townshend's mindset during the evolution of his Lifehouse project.
    By 1970 Gibson changed the design of the SG Special which Townshend had been using previously, and he began using other guitars.
    More Details Hide Details For much of the 1970s, he used a Gibson Les Paul DeLuxe, some with only two mini-humbucker pick-ups and others modified with a third pick-up in the "middle position" (a DiMarzio Superdistortion / Dual Sound). He can be seen using several of these guitars in the documentary The Kids Are Alright, although in the studio he often played a '59 Gretsch 6120 guitar (given to him by Joe Walsh), most notably on the albums Who's Next and Quadrophenia. During the 1980s, Townshend mainly used Fenders, Rickenbackers and Telecaster-style models built for him by Schecter and various other luthiers. Since the late-1980s, Townshend has used the Fender Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster, with Lace Sensor pick-ups, both in the studio and on tour. Some of his Stratocaster guitars feature a Fishman PowerBridge piezo pick-up system to simulate acoustic guitar tones. This piezo system is controlled by an extra volume control behind the guitar's bridge.
  • 1969
    Age 23
    In 1969 and 1972, Townshend produced two limited-release albums, Happy Birthday and I Am, for the London-based Baba association.
    More Details Hide Details This led to 1972's Who Came First, a more widespread release, 15 percent of the revenue of which went to the Baba association. A further limited release, With Love, was released in 1976. A limited-edition boxed set of all three limited releases on CD, Avatar, was released in 2000, with all profits going to the Avatar Meher Baba Trust in India, which provided funds to a dispensary, school, hospital and pilgrimage centre. In July 1976, Townshend opened Meher Baba Oceanic, a London activity centre for Baba followers, which featured film dubbing and editing facilities, a cinema and a recording studio. In addition, the centre served as a regular meeting place for Baba followers. Townshend offered very economical (reportedly £1 per night) lodging for American followers who needed an overnight stay on their pilgrimages to India. "For a few years, I had toyed with the idea of opening a London house dedicated to Meher Baba", he wrote in a 1977 Rolling Stone article. "In the eight years I had followed him, I had donated only coppers to foundations set up around the world to carry out the Master's wishes and decided it was about time I put myself on the line. The Who had set up a strong charitable trust of its own which appeased, to an extent, the feeling I had that Meher Baba would rather have seen me give to the poor than to the establishment of yet another so-called 'spiritual center'."
    He used this guitar at the Woodstock and Isle of Wight shows in 1969 and 1970, as well as the Live at Leeds performance in 1970.
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    In addition to his work with the Who, Townshend has been sporadically active as a solo recording artist. Between 1969 and 1971 Townshend, along with other devotees to Meher Baba, recorded a trio of albums devoted to his teachings: Happy Birthday, I Am, and With Love.
    More Details Hide Details In response to bootlegging of these, he compiled his personal highlights (and "Evolution", a collaboration with Ronnie Lane), and released his first major-label solo title, 1972's Who Came First. It was a moderate success and featured demos of Who songs as well as a showcase of his acoustic guitar talents. He collaborated with The Faces' bassist and fellow Meher Baba devotee Ronnie Lane on a duet album (1977's Rough Mix). Townshend's solo breakthrough, following the death of Who drummer Keith Moon, was the 1980 release Empty Glass, which included a top-10 single, "Let My Love Open the Door" and "Rough Boys". This release was followed in 1982 by All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, which included the popular radio track "Slit Skirts". While not a huge commercial success, noted music critic Timothy Duggan listed it as "Townshend's most honest and introspective work since Quadrophenia." Through the rest of the 1980s and early 1990s Townshend would again experiment with the rock opera and related formats, releasing several story-based albums including White City: A Novel (1985), The Iron Man: A Musical (1989), and Psychoderelict (1993). Townshend also got the chance to play with his hero Hank Marvin for Paul McCartney's "Rockestra" sessions, along with other respected rock musicians such as David Gilmour, John Bonham and Ronnie Lane.
  • 1968
    Age 22
    Townshend met Karen Astley, daughter of film composer Edwin Astley, while in art school. They married on 20 May 1968 and moved into a three-bedroom townhouse in Twickenham in outer south-west London that overlooked the Thames.
    More Details Hide Details They have three children: Emma (born 1969), who is a gardening columnist, Aminta (born 1971), who works in film production, and Joseph (born 1990), who studied graphic design at Central St. Martins.
    By 1968, Townshend became interested in the teachings of Meher Baba.
    More Details Hide Details He began to develop a musical piece about a deaf, dumb, and blind boy who would experience sensations musically. The piece would explore the tenets of Baba's philosophy. The result was the rock opera Tommy, released on 23 May 1969 to critical and commercial success. Leonard Bernstein praised the album, saying its "sheer power, invention and brilliance of performance outstrips anything which has ever come out of a recording studio." In support of Tommy, the Who launched a tour that included a memorable appearance at the Woodstock Festival on 17 August. While the Who were playing, Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman jumped the stage to complain about the arrest of John Sinclair. Townshend promptly knocked him offstage with his guitar, shouting "Fuck off my fucking stage!" In 1970, the Who released Live at Leeds, which several music critics cite as the best live album of all time. Townshend began writing material for another rock opera. Dubbed Lifehouse, it was designed to be a multi-media project that symbolised the relationship between a musician and his audience. The rest of the band were confused by its convoluted plot and simply wanted another album. Townshend began to feel alienated, and the project was abandoned after he suffered a nervous breakdown. Much of the material for Lifehouse was released as a traditional studio album, Who's Next. It became a commercial smash, reaching number one in the UK, and spawned two successful hit singles, "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again", that featured pioneering use of the synthesizer. "Baba O'Riley" in particular was written as Townshend's ode to his two heroes at the time, Meher Baba and composer Terry Riley.
  • 1967
    Age 21
    Besides his arrest for assaulting a police officer in 1967 and issues with destruction of property, Townshend was cautioned by British police as part of Operation Ore, a major investigation on child pornography conducted in 2002–2003.
    More Details Hide Details Townshend was placed on the sex offenders register for five years in 2003 after admitting he had used his credit card to access a website bearing the message "click here for child porn" four years earlier. Later investigation showed that he had visited an ordinary porn site, and not one containing child pornography. Townshend suffers from partial deafness and tinnitus believed to be the result of noise-induced hearing loss from his extensive exposure to loud music. Some such incidents include a Who concert at the Charlton Athletic Football Club, London, on 31 May 1976 that was listed as the "Loudest Concert Ever" by the Guinness Book of Records, where the volume level was measured at 126 decibels 32 metres from the stage. Townshend has also attributed the start of his hearing loss to Keith Moon's famous exploding drum set during the Who's 1967 appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
  • 1965
    Age 19
    To capitalise of their recent single success, the Who's debut album My Generation (The Who Sings My Generation in the US) was released in late 1965, containing original material written by Townshend and several James Brown covers that Daltrey favoured.
    More Details Hide Details Townshend continued to write several successful singles for the band, including "Pictures of Lily", "Substitute", "I'm a Boy", and "Happy Jack". Lambert encouraged Townshend to write longer pieces of music for the next album, which became the "A Quick One, While He's Away". The album was subsequently titled A Quick One and reached number 4 in the charts upon its release in December 1966. In their stage shows, Townshend developed a signature move in which he would swing his right arm against the guitar strings in a style reminiscent of the vanes of a windmill. He developed this style after watching Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards warm up before a show. The Who commenced their first US tour on 22 March 1967. It did not start well, as Townshend and Daltrey were briefly jailed for assaulting a police officer they mistook for a heckler. Townshend took to trashing his hotel suites, though not to the extent of his bandmate Moon. He also began experimenting with LSD, though stopped taking the drug after receiving a potent hit after the Monterey Pop Festival on 18 June. Released in December, their next album was The Who Sell Out—a concept album based on pirate radio, which had been instrumental in raising the Who's popularity. It included several humorous jingles and mock commercials between songs, and the Who's biggest US single, "I Can See for Miles".
  • 1964
    Age 18
    In June 1964, during a performance at the Railway Tavern, Townshend accidentally broke the top of his guitar on the low ceiling and proceeded to destroy the entire instrument.
    More Details Hide Details The on-stage destruction of instruments soon became a regular part of The Who's live shows. With the assistance of Lambert, the Who caught the ear of American record producer Shel Talmy, who had the band signed to a record contract. Townshend wrote a song, "I Can't Explain", as a deliberate sound-alike of the Kinks, another group Talmy produced. Released as a single in January 1965, "I Can't Explain" was the Who's first hit, reaching number eight on the British charts. A follow-up single ("Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere"), credited to both Townshend and Daltrey, also reached the top 10 in the UK. However, it was the release of the Who's third single, "My Generation", in November that, according to Who biographer Mark Wilkerson, "cemented their reputation as a hard-nosed band who reflected the feelings of thousands of pissed-off adolescents at the time. The Townshend-penned single reached number two on the UK charts, becoming the Who's biggest hit. The song and its famous line "I hope I die before I get old" was "very much about trying to find a place in society," Townshend stated in an interview with David Fricke.
  • 1963
    Age 17
    In 1963, Townshend's father arranged an amateur recording of "It Was You", the first song his son ever wrote.
    More Details Hide Details The Detours became aware of a group of the same name in February 1964, forcing them to change their name. Townshend's room-mate Richard Barnes came up with "The Who", and Daltrey decided it was the best choice. Not long after the name change, drummer Doug Sandom was replaced by Keith Moon, who had been drumming semi-professionally with the Beachcombers for several years. The band was soon taken on by a mod publicist named Peter Meaden who convinced them to change their name to The High Numbers to give the band more of a mod feel. After bringing out one failed single ("I'm the Face/Zoot Suit"), they dropped Meaden and were signed on by two new managers, Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert, who had paired up with the intention of finding new talent and creating a documentary about them. The band anguished over a name that all felt represented the band best, and dropped The High Numbers name, reverting to the Who.
  • 1961
    Age 15
    He ultimately chose to study graphic design at Ealing Art College, enrolling in 1961.
    More Details Hide Details At Ealing, Townshend studied alongside future Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood and future Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury. Notable artists and designers gave lectures at the college like auto-destructive art pioneer Gustav Metzger. Townshend dropped out in 1964 to focus on music full-time. In late 1961, Entwistle joined The Detours, a skiffle/rock and roll band, led by Roger Daltrey. The new bass player then suggested Townshend to join as an additional guitarist. In the early days of the Detours, the band's repertoire consisted of instrumentals by the Shadows and the Ventures, as well as pop and trad jazz covers. Their line-up coalesced around Roger Daltrey on lead guitar, Townshend on rhythm guitar, Entwistle on bass, Doug Sandom on drums and Colin Dawson as vocalist. Daltrey was considered the leader of the group and, according to Townshend, "ran things the way he wanted them." Dawson quit in 1962 after arguing too much with Daltrey, who subsequently moved to lead vocalist. As a result, Townshend, with Entwistle's encouragement, became the sole guitarist. Through Townshend's mother, the group obtained a management contract with local promoter Robert Druce, who started booking the band as a support act for bands like Screaming Lord Sutch, Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, Shane Fenton and the Fentones, and Johnny Kidd and the Pirates.
  • 1957
    Age 11
    Townshend's brothers Paul and Simon were born in 1957 and 1960, respectively.
    More Details Hide Details Lacking the requisite test scores to attend university, Pete was faced with the decision of art school, music school, or getting a job.
  • 1956
    Age 10
    His grandmother Emma purchased his first guitar for Christmas in 1956, an inexpensive Spanish model.
    More Details Hide Details Though his father taught him a couple of chords, Townshend was largely self-taught on the instrument and never learned to read music. Townshend and school friend John Entwistle formed a short-lived trad jazz group, the Confederates, featuring Townshend on banjo and Entwistle on horns. The Confederates played gigs at the Congo Club, a youth club run by the Acton Congregational Church, and covered Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball, and Lonnie Donegan. However, both became influenced by the increasing popularity of rock 'n' roll, with Townshend particularly admiring Cliff Richard's debut single, "Move It". Townshend left the Confederates after getting into a fight with the group's drummer, Chris Sherwin, and purchased a "reasonably good Czechoslovakian guitar" at his mother's antique shop.
    It was on one of these trips in the summer of 1956 that he repeatedly watched the 1956 film Rock Around the Clock, sparking his fascination with American rock and roll.
    More Details Hide Details Not long thereafter, he went to see Bill Haley perform in London, Townshend's first concert. At the time, he did not see himself pursuing a career as a professional musician; instead, he wanted to become a journalist. Upon passing the eleven-plus exam,Townshend was enrolled at Acton County Grammar School. At Acton County, he was frequently bullied because he had a large nose, an experience that profoundly affected him.
  • 1945
    Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend was born on 19 May 1945, at Chiswick Hospital, West London.
    More Details Hide Details He came from a musical family: his father, Cliff Townshend, was a professional alto saxophonist in the Royal Air Force's dance band The Squadronaires and his mother, Betty (née Dennis), was a singer with the Sydney Torch and Les Douglass Orchestras. The Townshends had a volatile marriage, as both drank heavily and possessed fiery tempers. Cliff Townshend was often away from his family touring with his band while Betty carried on affairs with other men. The two split when Townshend was a toddler and he was sent to live with his maternal grandmother Emma Dennis, whom Pete later described as "clinically insane". The two-year separation ended when Cliff and Betty purchased a house together on Woodgrange Avenue in middle-class Acton, London, and the young Pete was happily reunited with his parents. Townshend says he did not have many friends growing up, so he spent much of his boyhood reading adventure novels like Gulliver's Travels and Treasure Island. He enjoyed his family's frequent excursions to the seaside and the Isle of Man.
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