1. (00:04:49) Pete Townshend - English Boy
2. (00:04:11) Pete Townshend - Secondhand Love
3. (00:04:42) Pete Townshend - A Little Is Enough
4. (00:04:27) Pete Townshend - Heart To Hang Onto
5. (00:02:37) Pete Townshend - Sheraton Gibson
6. (00:05:52) Pete Townshend - The Sea Refuses No River
7. (00:03:06) Pete Townshend - Brilliant Blues
8. (00:04:12) Pete Townshend - Now And Then
9. (00:04:01) Pete Townshend - I Won't Run Anymore
10. (00:03:45) Pete Townshend - Keep Me Turning
11. (00:02:44) Pete Townshend - Let My Love Open The Door
12. (00:05:02) Pete Townshend - Slit Skirts
13. (00:04:46) Pete Townshend - A Friend Is A Friend
14. (00:06:22) Pete Townshend - Let's See Action
15. (00:06:07) Pete Townshend - Street In The City
16. (00:05:24) Pete Townshend - Empty Glass
Playing Time.........: 72 Minutes 6 Seconds
Total Size...........: 496.32 MB
Pete Townshend - Gold Disc 2
1. (00:04:00) Pete Townshend - Rough Boys
2. (00:05:45) Pete Townshend - Give Blood
3. (00:03:42) Pete Townshend - Exquisitely Bored
4. (00:02:36) Pete Townshend - Jools And Jim
5. (00:03:17) Pete Townshend - Crashing By Design
6. (00:03:30) Pete Townshend - Don`t Try To Make Me Real
7. (00:05:54) Pete Townshend - Face The Face
8. (00:03:42) Pete Townshend - Uniforms (Corp D`Espirit)
9. (00:04:02) Pete Townshend - My Baby Gives It Away
10. (00:04:25) Pete Townshend - Outlive The Dinosaur
11. (00:03:23) Pete Townshend - Keep On Working
12. (00:04:40) Pete Townshend - White City Fighting
13. (00:04:12) Pete Townshend - All Shall Be Well
14. (00:03:27) Pete Townshend - Time Is Passing
15. (00:04:25) Pete Townshend - I Am Afraid
16. (00:03:01) Pete Townshend - Misunderstood
17. (00:05:32) Pete Townshend - Pure And Easy
18. (00:06:47) Pete Townshend - Parvardigar
Playing Time.........: 76 Min 20 Seconds
Total Size...........: 533.17 MB
NFO generated on.....: 9/5/2008 12:37:05 PM
Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend (born 19 May 1945 in Chiswick, London),
is an English rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, composer, and writer, known
principally as the guitarist and songwriter for The Who, as well as for his own
solo career. His career with The Who spans more than forty years, during
which time the band grew to be considered one of the most influential bands
of the rock era, in addition to being "possibly the greatest live band ever."
Townshend is the primary songwriter for the Who, writing well over one
hundred songs for the band's eleven studio albums, including the rock operas
Tommy and Quadrophenia and the well-regarded rock radio staple Who's
Next, plus dozens more that appeared as non-album singles, bonus tracks on
reissues, and tracks on rarities compilations such as Odds and Sods. He has
also written over one hundred songs for his solo albums and rarities
compilations. Although known mainly for being a guitarist, he is also an
accomplished singer and keyboard player, and has played many other
instruments on his solo albums, and on some Who albums (such as banjo,
accordion, synthesizer, piano, bass guitar, Drums).
He has also written newspaper and magazine articles, book reviews, essays,
books, and scripts.
Born into a musical family (his father Cliff Townshend was a professional
saxophonist in The Squadronaires and his mother Betty a singer), Townshend
exhibited a fascination with music at an early age. He had early exposure to
American rock and roll (his mother recounts that he repeatedly saw the 1956
film Rock Around the Clock) and obtained his first guitar from his grandmother
at age 12, which he described as a "Cheap Spanish thing". Townshend's
biggest guitar influences include Link Wray, John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley and
Hank Marvin of The Shadows.
In 1961 Townshend enrolled at Ealing Art College, and a year later he and his
school friend from Acton County Grammar School John Entwistle founded
their first band, The Confederates, a Dixieland duet featuring Townshend on
banjo and Entwistle on horn. From this beginning they moved on to The
Detours, a skiffle/rock and roll band fronted by then sheet-metal welder
Roger Daltrey. In early 1964, due to another band having the same name,
The Detours renamed themselves The Who. Drummer Doug Sandom was
replaced by Keith Moon not long afterwards. The band (now comprising
Daltrey on vocals and harmonica, Townshend on guitar, Entwistle on bass,
and Moon on drums) were 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 single ("Zoot Suit"),
they dropped Meaden and were signed on by two new managers, Chris
Stamp and Kit Lambert. They dropped The High Numbers name and reverted
to The Who.
See also: The Who
After The High Numbers once again became The Who, Townshend wrote
several successful singles for the band, including "I Can't Explain", "Pictures
of Lily", "Substitute", and "My Generation". Townshend became known for his
eccentric stage style during the band's early days, often interrupting
concerts with lengthy introductions of songs, swinging his right arm against
the guitar strings in his signature windmill style, often smashing guitars on
stage, and often repeatedly throwing his guitars into his amplifiers and
speaker cabinets. The first incident of guitar-smashing was brought about
because Townshend accidentally smashed his guitar on the low roof of an
early concert venue. He was so enraged at cracking the neck of his guitar
that he systematically destroyed the rest of his kit, bringing the already
uneasy show to an abrupt end. The on-stage destruction of instruments soon
became a regular part of The Who's performances that was further
dramatized with pyrotechnics. Afterwards, he would flip his guitar into the
crowd. At a concert in Germany, a police officer walked up to him, pointed his
gun at him, and ordered Townshend to stop smashing the guitar.
Townshend, always a voluble interview subject, would later relate these
antics to German/British artist Gustav Metzger's theories on Auto-destructive
art, to which he had been exposed at art school. In his later years,
Townshend attributed the motivation for his on-stage destruction of guitars
to a youthful anger he had long since outgrown.
The Who thrived, and continue to thrive, despite the deaths of two of the
original members. They are regarded by many rock critics as one of the best
live bandsfrom a period of time that stretched from the late 1960s to the
early 1980s, the result of a unique combination of high volume,
showmanship, a wide variety of rock beats, and a high-energy sound that
alternated between tight and free-form. The Who continue to perform
critically acclaimed sets in the 21st century, including a highly regarded
performance at the Live 8 music festival in July 2005.
Townshend remained the primary songwriter and leader of the group, writing
over one hundred songs which appeared on the band's eleven studio albums.
Among his most well-known accomplishments are the creation of Tommy, for
which the term "rock opera" was coined, and a second pioneering rock opera,
Quadrophenia; his wild, guitar-smashing stage persona – which has become
virtually de rigueur in the majority of rock acts since the 1970s; his use of
guitar feedback as sonic technique; and the introduction of the synthesizer
as a rock instrument. Townshend revisited album-length storytelling
throughout his career and remains the musician most associated with the rock
opera form. Townshend also demonstrated prodigious talent on the guitar
and was influential as a player, developing a unique style which combined
aspects of rhythm and lead guitar and a characteristic mix of abandon and
subtlety. Many tracks also feature Townshend on piano or keyboards,
though keyboard-heavy tracks usually featured guest artists such as Nicky
Hopkins, John Bundrick or Chris Stainton.
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 the
yogi's teachings: Happy Birthday, I Am, and With Love. 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".
This release was followed in 1982 by All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese
Eyes, which included the popular radio track "Slit Skirts". 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
Townshend has also recorded several live albums, including one featuring a
supergroup he assembled called Deep End, who performed just two concerts
and a TV show session for The Tube, to raise money for a charity supporting
drug addicts. In 1984 Townshend published a collection of short stories
entitled Horse's Neck. He has also reported that he is writing an
autobiography. In 1993 he and Des McAnuff wrote and directed the
Broadway adaptation of the Who album Tommy, as well as a less successful
stage musical based on his solo album The Iron Man, based upon the book by
Ted Hughes. McAnuff and Townshend later co-produced the animated film
The Iron Giant, also based on the Hughes story.
A production described as a Townshend rock-opera and titled The Boy Who
Heard Music was scheduled to début as part of Vassar College's Powerhouse
Summer Theater program in July 2007.
Recent Who work
From the mid-1990s through the present, Townshend has participated in a
series of tours with the surviving members of The Who, including a 2002 tour
that continued despite Entwistle's death.
In February 2006, a major world tour by The Who was announced to
promote their first new album since 1982. Townshend published a semi-
autobiographical story The Boy Who Heard Music as a serial on a blog
beginning in September 2005. The blog closed in October 2006, as noted on
Townshend's website. It is now owned by a different user and does not
relate to Townshend's work in any way. On 25 February 2006, he announced
the issue of a mini-opera inspired by the novella for June 2006. In October
2006 The Who released an album, Endless Wire. A full opera entitled The Boy
Who Heard Music based on this concept also debuted at Vassar College in
Townshend suffers from partial deafness and tinnitus as a result of extensive
exposure to loud music through headphones and in concert, including The
Who concert at Charlton Athletic Football Ground, London, on 31 May 1976
that was listed in the Guinness Book of Records, where the volume level was
measured at 126 decibels 32 metres from the stage. In 1989, Townshend
gave the initial funding to allow the formation of the non-profit hearing
advocacy group H.E.A.R. (Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers).
According to former keyboardist John Bundrick Townshend's overtly
outspoken views on this matter seemed very un-Rock and Roll.
From the The Who's emergence on the British musical landscape, Pete
Townshend could always be counted upon for good copy. By early 1966 he
had become the band's spokesman, interviewed separate from the band for
the BBC television series A Whole Scene Going admitting that the band used
drugs and that he considered The Beatles' backing tracks "flippin' lousy".
Throughout the 1960s Townshend made regular appearances in the pages of
British music magazines, but it was a very long interview he gave to Rolling
Stone in 1968 that sealed his reputation as one of rock's leading intellectuals
Townshend gave interview after interview to the newly risen underground
press, not only providing them with a star for their covers, but firmly
establishing his reputation as an honest and erudite commentator on the rock
'n' roll scene. In addition, he wrote his own articles, starting a regular monthly
column in Melody Maker, and contributing to Rolling Stone with an article on
his avatar Meher Baba and a review of The Who's album Meaty Beaty Big and
Townshend has withdrawn from the press on occasion. On his 30th birthday,
Townshend discussed his feelings that The Who were failing to journalist Roy
Carr, making acid comments on fellow Who member Roger Daltrey and other
leading members of the British rock community. Carr printed his remarks in the
NME causing strong friction within The Who and embarrassing Townshend.
Feeling betrayed, he stopped interviews with the press for over two years.
Nevertheless, Townshend has maintained close relationships with journalists,
and sought them out in 1982 to describe his two-year battle with cocaine and
heroin. Some of those press members turned on him in the 1980s as the punk
rock revolution led to widespread dismissal of the old guard of rock.
Townshend attacked two of them, Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons, in the
song "Jools And Jim" on his album Empty Glass after they made some
derogatory remarks about Who drummer Keith Moon. Meanwhile several
journalists denounced Townshend for what they saw as a betrayal of the
idealism about rock music he had espoused in his earlier interviews when The
Who participated in a tour sponsored by Schlitz in 1982 and by Miller Brewing
in 1989. Townshend's 1993 concept album Psychoderelict offers a scathing
commentary on journalists in the character of Ruth Streeting, who attempts
to scandalize the main character, Ray High.
By the 1990s Townshend was still a popular interview subject although his
comments were sometimes given a scandalous spin. A 1990 book of
interviews by Timothy White, Rock Lives, contained Townshend's thoughts on
the meaning of his song "Rough Boys" that gave the mistaken impression that
he was gay or bisexual. The information was picked up by the British tabloid
press that spread this misinformation around the world. Townshend kept
silent on the issue out of respect for his gay friends, until clarifying in a 1994
Playboy interview that he was neither gay nor bisexual.
Townshend still continues to write pieces on rock and his place in it, mostly for
his website but he also remains a celebrity sought after by music magazines
and newspapers to the present day.
On 25 October 2006, Townshend declined at the last minute to do a
scheduled interview with Sirius Satellite Radio star Howard Stern after Stern's
co-host Robin Quivers and sidekick Artie Lange made joking references to his
2003 arrest. Stern conducted an interview instead with Roger Daltrey and
repeatedly expressed regret about the utterances of his on-air colleagues
stating that they did not reflect his own feelings of respect for Townshend.
Later in 2006, Townshend appeared on the popular Living Legends radio
show in an exclusive interview with Opal Bonfante. The live interview was
broadcasted worldwide on Radio London, his first live interview for fifteen
years. Townshend spoke about his forthcoming UK tour, his online novella
and his memories of the old pirate radio stations.
Throughout his solo career and his career with The Who, Townshend has
played (and destroyed) a large variety of guitars.
In the early days with The Who, Townshend played an Emile Grimshaw SS De
Luxe and 6-string and 12-string Rickenbacker semi-hollow electric guitars
primarily (particularly the Rose-Morris UK-imported models with special f-
holes). However, as instrument-smashing became increasingly integrated into
The Who's concert sets, he switched to more durable and resilient (and
sometimes cheaper) guitars for smashing, such as the Fender Stratocaster,
Fender Telecaster and various Danelectro models. On the Who's famous
Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour appearance in 1967, Townshend used a Vox
Cheetah guitar, which he only used for that performance, and the guitar was
destroyed into smithereens by Townshend, and Moon's drum explosion. In
the late 1960s, Townshend began playing Gibson SG models almost
exclusively, specifically the Special models. He used this guitar at the
Woodstock and Isle of Wight shows in 1969 and 1970.
By 1972, Gibson changed the design of the SG Special which Townshend had
been using previously, and thus he began using other guitars. For much of
the 1970s, he used a Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, some with only two mini-
humbucker pickups and others modified with a third pickup. 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, most
notably on the albums Who's Next and Quadrophenia.
During the 1980s, Townshend mainly used 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 pickups, 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.
Townshend has used a number of other electric guitars, including various
Gretsch, Gibson, and Fender models. He has also used Guild, Takamine and
Gibson J-200 acoustic models. One Gretsch was a vintage model given to him
by Joe Walsh.
Townshend playing his signature Fender StratocasterThere are several
Gibson Pete Townshend signature guitars, such as the Pete Townshend SG,
the Pete Townshend J-200, and three different Pete Townshend Les Paul
Deluxes. The SG was clearly marked as a Pete Townshend limited edition
model and came with a special case and certificate of authenticity, signed by
Townshend himself. There has also been a Pete Townshend signature
Rickenbacker limited edition guitar of the model 1997, which was his main 6-
string guitar in the Who's early days.
He also used the Gibson ES-335, one of which he donated to the Hard Rock
Cafe. Townshend also used a Gibson EDS-1275 double neck very briefly
around 1968, and both a Harmony Sovereign H1270 and a Fender XII
Guitar for the studio sessions for Tommy for the 12-string guitar parts.
Most recently in 2006, Townshend had a pedal board designed by long-time
gear guru Pete Cornish. The board apparently is composed with a
compressor, an old Boss OD-1 overdrive pedal, as well as a T-Rex Replica
Over the years, Pete Townshend has used many types of amplifiers,
including Vox, Fender, Marshall, Hiwatt etc., sticking to using Hiwatt amps for
most of four decades. Around the time of Who's Next, he used Fender amps.
For some time his rig consisted of four Fender Vibro-King stacks and a Hiwatt
head driving two custom made 2x12" Hiwatt/Mesa Boogie speakers.
Townshend figured prominently in the development of what is widely known
in rock circles as the "Marshall Stack". It has been recounted by others during
the start of popularity of Jim Marshall's guitar amplifiers, that Townshend
became a user of these amps.
He also ordered several speaker cabinets that contained eight speakers in a
housing standing nearly six feet in height with the top half of the cabinet
slanted slightly upward. These became hard to move and were incredibly
Jim Marshall then cut the massive speaker cabinet into two separate speaker
cabinets, at the suggestion of Townshend, with each cabinet containing four
12-inch speakers. One of the cabinets had half of the speaker baffle slanted
upwards and Marshall made these two cabinets stackable. The Marshall stack
was born, and Townshend used these as well as Hiwatt stacks.
His amplifier rig currently usually consists of four Fender Vibro King amps with
He has always regarded his instruments as being merely tools of the trade
and has, in latter years, determinedly kept his most prized instruments well
away from the concert stage. These instruments include a few vintage and
reissue Rickenbackers, the Gretsch 6120, Gibson Custom Shop's artist limited
edition reissues of Townshend's Les Paul Deluxe models 1, 3 and 9 as well his
signature SG Special reissue.
Although best known for his musical compositions and musicianship, Pete
Townshend has been extensively involved in the literary world for more than
three decades, writing newspaper and magazine articles, book reviews,
essays, books, and scripts.
An early example of Townshend’s writing came in August 1970 with the first
of nine installments of "The Pete Townshend Page", a monthly column written
by Townshend for the British music paper Melody Maker. The column provided
Townshend’s perspective on an array of subjects, such as the media and the
state of U.S. concert halls and public address systems, as well as providing
valuable insight into Townshend’s mindset during the evolution of his
Townshend also wrote three sizeable essays for Rolling Stone magazine, the
first of which appeared in November 1970. "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. The third article, "The Punk Meets the
Godmother", appeared in November 1977.
Also in 1977, Townshend founded Eel Pie Publishing, which specialized in
children's titles, music books, and several Meher Baba-related publications. A
bookstore named Magic Bus (after the popular Who song) was opened in
London. The Story of Tommy, a book written by Townshend and his art
school friend Richard Barnes 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.
In July 1983, Townshend took a position as an acquisitions editor for London
publisher Faber and Faber. Notable projects included editing Animals front
man Eric Burdon’s autobiography, Charles Shaar Murray’s award-winning
Crosstown Traffic, 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, published 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 a friendship with the Nobel prize-winning
author of Lord of the Flies, Sir William Golding, and became friends with British
Poet Laureate Ted Hughes. His friendship with Hughes led to Townshend’s
musical interpretation of Hughes's children's story, The Iron Man, six years
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 which led to a short film.
In 1989, Townshend began work on a novel entitled Ray High & The Glass
Household, a draft of which was later submitted to his editor. While the
original novel remains unpublished, elements from this story were used in
Townshend’s 1993 solo album Psychoderelict.
In 1993, Townshend authored another book, The Who’s Tommy, a chronicle
of the development of the award-winning Broadway version of his rock
The opening of his personal website and his commerce site Eelpie.com, 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.
Townshend’s most recent literary contribution is The Boy Who Heard Music, a
novella which began a chapter-a-week online posting in September 2005. It is
now available to read at his website. Like Psychoderelict this is yet another
extrapolation of Lifehouse and Ray High & The Glass Household.
Townshend signed a deal with Little, Brown publishing in 1997 to write his
autobiography. Reportedly half-complete and titled Pete Townshend: Who
He? this is a work in progress. Townshend's creative vagaries and conceptual
machinations have been chronicled by Larry David Smith in his book The
Minstrel's Dilemma (Praeger 1999).
Townshend showed no predilection for religious belief in the first years of The
Who's career and few would have suspected that the violent guitar-smasher
was even a closet acolyte. 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 and Sods LP). Later that same month
during a tour of Australia and New Zealand, The Small Faces' member Ronnie
Lane introduced Townshend to the writings of the Indian "perfect master"
Meher Baba, who blended elements of Vedantic, Sufi, and mystic schools.
Townshend swiftly absorbed all the writings of Meher Baba he could find and
by April 1968, announced himself a disciple of Baba. It was at that time that
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
Indian spiritualists that would ultimately become Tommy.
Tommy did more than revitalize The Who's career (which was moderately
successful at this point but had plateaued), 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. However, unlike other openly spiritual rock stars whose music
became dogmatic once they discovered religion, Townshend generally soft-
pedaled the religious nature of his work. This may have been because his
newfound passion was not shared by his bandmates, whose attitude was
tolerant, but who were unwilling to become the spokesmen for a particular
religion. Few of the thousands of fans who packed stadiums across Europe
and America to see The Who noticed the religious message in the songs: that
"Bargain" and the middle section of "Behind Blue Eyes" from Who's Next and
"Listening To You" from Tommy were all originally written as prayers, that
"Drowned" from Quadrophenia and "Don't Let Go The Coat" from Face
Dances were based on sayings by Meher Baba, that the "who are you, who,
who, who, who" chorus from the song "Who Are You" was based on Sufi
chants, or that "Let My Love Open The Door" was not a message from a lover
but from God.
In interviews Townshend was more open about his beliefs, penning an article
on Baba for Rolling Stone in 1970 and stating that following Baba's teachings,
he was opposed to the use of all psychedelic drugs, making him one of the
first rock stars with counterculture credibility to turn against their use.
His stardom quickly made him the world's most notable follower of Meher
Baba. Having just missed out on meeting his avatar with Baba's death 31
January 1969 (work on Tommy kept him from making the pilgrimage),
Townshend made several trips to visit Baba's tomb in India as well as
becoming a frequent visitor to the Meher Baba Spiritual Center in Myrtle
Beach, South Carolina. At home he recorded and released his most overtly
spiritual songs on records assembled, pressed and sold by Baba
organizations. When these records became widely bootlegged, Townshend
put together a selection of the tracks for release as the solo album Who
Came First. One of the songs from that album, "Parvardigar", a Baba prayer
set to music by Townshend, would gradually be accepted as a hymn by the
Baba movement. In 1976 he opened the Oceanic Centre in London, using it
as a haven for English Baba followers and Americans making a pilgrimage to
Baba's tomb as well as a place for small concerts (one such in 1979 was
released on CD in 2001 as Pete Townshend & Raphael Rudd—The Oceanic
Concerts) and a repository for films made of Baba.
Townshend became a lower-profile member after 1982, having felt that his
just-ended two-year indulgence in cocaine and heroin had made him a poor
candidate to be a spokesman. Nevertheless his discipleship remains an ever-
present element of his career and a key to those looking for the meaning and
background to his work.
Townshend met Karen Astley (daughter of composer Ted Astley) while in art
school and married her in 1968. The couple separated in 1994 and
Townshend announced they would divorce in 2000. They have three
children: Emma (b. 1969), who is a singer/songwriter, Aminta (b. 1971), and
Joseph (b. 1989). For many years Townshend refused to confirm or deny
rumours that he was bisexual. In a 2002 interview with Rolling Stone
magazine, however, he explained that, although he engaged in some brief
same-sex experimentation in the 1960s, he is heterosexual. Townshend
currently lives with his long-time partner, musician Rachel Fuller, in Richmond,
England. He also owns a house in Churt, Surrey, England.
Pete Townshend has woven a long history of involvement with various
charities and other philanthropic efforts throughout his career, both as a solo
artist and with The Who. His first solo concert, for example, was a 1974
benefit show which was organized to raise funds for the Camden Square
Community Play Center.
The earliest public example of Townshend’s involvement with charitable
causes is the relationship he established with the Richmond-based Meher
Baba Association. In 1968, Townshend donated the use of his former
Wardour Street apartment to the Meher Baba Association. The following
year, the association was moved to another Townshend-owned apartment,
the Eccleston Square former residence of wife Karen. Townshend sat on a
committee which oversaw the operation and finances of the centre. "The
committee sees to it that it is open a couple of days a week, and keeps the
bills paid and the library full," he wrote in a 1970 Rolling Stone article.
In 1969 and 1972 Townshend produced two limited-release albums, Happy
Birthday and I Am, for the London-based Baba association. 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 Baba 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
Townshend also embarked on a project dedicated to the collection,
restoration and maintenance of Meher Baba-related films. The project was
known as MEFA, or Meher Baba European Film Archive.
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. The show was earmarked as a benefit for the
London-based Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Foundation, an organization
which helps autistic and retarded children.
Townshend performed at a 1995 benefit organized by Paul Simon at Madison
Square Garden's Paramount Theatre, for The Children’s Health Fund. The
following year, Townshend performed at a benefit for the Bridge School, a
California facility for children with severe speech and physical impairments. In
1997, Townshend established a relationship with Maryville Academy, a
Chicago area children’s charity. Between 1997 and 2002, Townshend played
five benefit shows for Maryville Academy, raising at least $1,600,000. In
addition, proceeds from the sales of his 1999 release Pete Townshend Live
were also donated to Maryville Academy.
As a member of The Who, Pete Townshend has also performed a series of
concerts, beginning in 2000, benefitting the Teenage Cancer Trust in the UK,
raising several million pounds. In 2005, Townshend performed at New York’s
Gotham Hall for Samsung’s Four Seasons of Hope, an annual children's charity
Townshend has also advocated for drug rehabilitation. “What I’m most active
in doing is raising money to provide beds in clinics to help people that have
become victims of drug abuse,” he said in a late 1985 radio interview. “In
Britain, the facilities are very, very, very lean indeed ... although we have a
national health service, a free medical system, it does nothing particularly for
class A drug addicts – cocaine abusers, heroin abusers ... we’re making a lot
of progress ... the British government embarked on an anti-heroin campaign
with advertising, and I was co-opted by them as a kind of figurehead, and
then the various other people co-opted me into their own campaigns, but my
main work is raising money to try and open a large clinic.”
The "large clinic" Townshend was referring to was a plan he and drug
rehabilitation pioneer 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
Further examples of Townshend’s anti-drug activism took place in the form of
a 1984 benefit concert, 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 organization, 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 troubled 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.
In 1979, Townshend became the first major rock musician to donate his
services to the human rights organization Amnesty International when he
performed three songs for its benefit show The Secret Policeman's Ball -
performances that were released on record and seen in the film of the show.
Townshend's acoustic performances of three of his songs ("Pinball Wizard",
"Drowned", and "Won't Get Fooled Again") were subsequently cited as having
been the forerunner and inspiration for the "unplugged" phenomenon in the
1990s. Townshend had been invited to perform for Amnesty by Martin Lewis,
the producer of The Secret Policeman's Ball who stated later that
Townshend's participation had been the key to his securing the subsequent
participation for Amnesty (in the 1981 sequel show) of Sting, Eric Clapton,
Jeff Beck, Phil Collins and Bob Geldof. Other performers inspired to support
Amnesty International in future Secret Policeman's Ball shows and other
benefits because of Townshend's early commitment to the organization
include Peter Gabriel, Bruce Springsteen, David Gilmour and U2 singer Bono
who in 1986 told Rolling Stone magazine: "I saw The Secret Policeman's Ball
and it became a part of me. It sowed a seed...."
Highlights of Pete Townshend’s other public charitable efforts include the
A 1972 Tommy performance which raised nearly £10,000 for the Stars
Organization for Spastics charity.
A 1979 Rock Against Racism benefit concert, organized to raise money to pay
the legal costs of those arrested in a London area anti-racism demonstration.
Townshend helped organize the show, topped the bill, and supplied the event
lighting and equipment.
A 1981 Rock Against Unemployment benefit concert, part of the People’s
March For Jobs campaign.
A 1982 Prince’s Trust Gala Benefit performance.
Performing with The Who at the 1985 Live Aid concert.
Involvement in fundraising supportive of Nelson Mandela’s African National
Performing in a 1986 Royal Albert Hall benefit show for the victims of a
Colombian Volcano disaster which killed over 25,000 people.
A 2001 benefit show for San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse which raised
Performing in Rock the Dock, a 1998 benefit for striking Liverpool dock
Organizing an online auction in 2000 to raise funds for Oxfam’s emergency
services to help those affected by floods in Mozambique and a combination of
drought and food shortages in Ethiopia. Among the auctioned items were a
selection of gold and platinum awards, letters from celebrities such as Eric
Clapton and Paul McCartney, and musical instruments (including a smashed
Rickenbacker guitar and the guitar on which Townshend composed the Who
classic "Behind Blue Eyes"). The centerpiece of the auction, however, was a
1957 Fender Stratocaster which was given to Townshend as a gift by Eric
Clapton after Townshend had helped arrange Clapton’s 1973 comeback show
at the Rainbow. The guitar was ultimately purchased by Pete Townshend,
Mick Jagger and David Bowie, and presented to British Prime Minister Tony
Performing at the Royal Albert Hall in a 2004 Ronnie Lane tribute show which
served as a fundraiser for both Lane’s family and multiple sclerosis research.
Performing with The Who at the 2005 Live 8 concert.
As part of the Operation Ore investigations, Townshend was cautioned by
the police in 2003 after acknowledging a credit card access in 1999 to the
Landslide website alleged to advertise child pornography. He claimed in the
press and on his website to have been engaged in research for A Different
Bomb (a now-abandoned book based on an anti-child pornography essay
published on his website in January 2002) and his autobiography, and as part
of a campaign against child pornography. The police searched his house and
confiscated fourteen computers and other materials and after a four-month
forensic investigation confirmed that they had found no evidence of child
abuse images. Consequently, the police offered a caution rather than
pressing charges, issuing a statement: "After four months of investigation by
officers from Scotland Yard's child protection group, it was established that
Mr Townshend was not in possession of any downloaded child abuse images."
In a statement issued by his solicitor,Townshend said, "I accept that I was
wrong to access this site, and that by doing so, I broke the law, and I have
accepted the caution that the police have given me." As a statutory
consequence of accepting the caution, Townshend was entered on the
Violent and Sex Offender Register for five years. This would normally prevent
travel abroad, but in Townshend's case such restrictions have been waived,
making possible his numerous concert performances with and without The
Who since receiving the caution.
A later investigator stated that he was "falsely accused".After obtaining
copies of the Landslide hard drives and tracing Townshend's actions,
investigative journalist Duncan Campbell wrote in PC Pro Magazine, "Under
pressure of the media filming of the raid, Townshend appears to have
confessed to something he didn't do." Campbell states that their entire
evidence against Townshend was that he accessed a single site among the
Landslide offerings which was not connected with child pornography.
Because You're Young with David Bowie on Scary Monsters (and Super
Lonely at the Top and Hard Women with Mick Jagger on She's the Boss
Joy and Gun with Mick Jagger on Goddess in the Doorway (2001)
Slow Burn with David Bowie on Heathen (2002)
In 1968 Townshend helped assemble a band called Thunderclap Newman
consisting of three musicians he knew. Pianist Andy Newman (an old art
school friend), drummer John "Speedy" Keen (who had written "Armenia City
in the Sky" for The Who to record for their 1967 album The Who Sell Out) and
teenage guitarist Jimmy McCulloch (later to join Wings). Townshend produced
the band and played bass on their recordings under the tongue-in-cheek
pseudonym "Bijou Drains". Their first recording was the single "Something in
the Air" which became a number one hit in the UK and a substantial hit
elsewhere in the world. Following this success, Townshend produced their
sole album Hollywood Dream.
For albums Townshend composed as a member of The Who, see their entry.
Not included are albums by other artists on which Townshend played as a
session musician. Through much of 2005, Pete Townshend recorded and
performed alongside his partner Rachel Fuller, a classically trained pianist and
In 2006, Townshend opened a website for implementation of The Lifehouse
Method based on his 1971 Lifehouse concept. This website is in collaboration
with composer Lawrence Ball and software developer David Snowden.
Applicants at the website can input data to compose a musical 'portrait' which
the musical team may then develop into larger compositions for a planned
concert or series of concerts to be announced.
BRIT Awards 1983 - Life Achievement Award
Tony Award 1993 - Best Original Score (music & lyrics) - The Who's Tommy
Grammy Awards 1993 - Best Musical Show Album (as composer and lyricist of
The Who's Tommy)