Pete Townshend is perhaps best known for his guitar smashing antics. He first smashed his guitar in a 1964 show--before The Who made it with My Generation--after accidentally cracking his guitar head on the low ceiling. To save face, he made the mistake look intentional and went on to smash the guitar completely. Fortunately, he had a spare twelve string to finish the show with. Shortly thereafter, Pete said this about the incident:

"I think I justified it in terms of being noticed. And fuck it, I wasn't going to stand on stage and play rock & roll, if it was just the music; because that's not what rock & roll is, anyway. It might be what the blues is, but rock & roll is something else again."

Pete Townshend was the lead guitar player, main songwriter and sometimes the vocalist of the english rock band The Who. He has an amazing songwriting talent, and can play his guitar like few people.

Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend was born on May 19, 1945, in Chiswick, England. His parents, Clifford & Betty Townshend, were both musicians, meeting in a band. Their marriage was not always the best, so Pete had to stay often with his maternal grandmother.

Pete loved music very much, when he was 12 years old, he received his first guitar from his grandmother. Soon after he got a banjo, which led to meeting John Entwistle in 1959. They played together in some bands, before Entwistle became a member of Roger Daltrey's Detours.

After Pete was asked by Roger Daltrey to join the band on rhythm guitar, he agreed. Roger described Pete "as a nose on a stick" because he was very thin and had a big nose. His big nose led to teenage insecurities, while he was young. At this time, his mother gave birth to Pete's brothers, Paul & Simon (who later would join The Who in some gigs after Keith Moon's death, IIRC).

In 1961 Pete enrolled in Ealing Art College and joined the Young Communist League, and the Committee for Nuclear Disarmament. Townshend attended many lectures by visiting artists and learned that art could be used as social criticism.

During Pete's time at the art school, the Detours were Pete Townshend on rhythm guitar, John Entwistle on bass, Roger Daltrey on lead guitar, Doug Sandom on drums, and Colin Davis on lead vocals.
After opening for Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, the Detours decided to become a power trio, with Roger as their lead vocalist, and Pete, who was more talented than Roger, switching to the lead guitar.

Townshend's blues or perhaps even jazz influences could have been from a big record collection that one of his friends at the art school gave Pete, after being caught with marijuana. His records included Mose Allison records, who has written some songs The Who later covered, for example Young Man Blues (listen to the Live At Leeds version).

In 1963, The Detours opened for the Rolling Stones and Pete saw Keith Richards swinging his arm over his guitar as a warm up. Later, he created his windmill guitar strum. I was told by some nice people that Keith Richards doesn't even remember doing this move, so perhaps it is even Pete's. Doug Sandom left the band in 1964, so the one and only Keith Moon joined the band that had already changed its name to The Who.

After meeting Pete Meaden, a mod, who became their manager, the Who changed their name again to The High Numbers, and the band dressed like mods and appealed to mods, even though they weren't mods.

In the summer of 1964, Pete Townshend accidentally broke his guitar on a small ceiling, but made it look intentional and carried on smashing it completely. He had brought a twelve string guitar with him, so he could carry on playing as if nothing had happened.

In the late summer of the same year, The Who's management changed again, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp took it over, and the band called themselves The Who again. Soon after that, The Who started playing at the Marquee Club regularly. The famous "Maximum R&B" slogan introducing The Who is also from this time. After signing a record deal, The Who had to write their own material, so Pete wrote I Can't Explain and Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere. About eleven months later The Who released their first album, My Generation. The Who went on releasing many albums during the later 60's and the 70's.

In 1972 Pete Townshend released his first solo album, Who Came First, a collection of demos, new songs and cover versions of older ones. He played his first solo gig in 1974 and started having depressions combined with alcohol. His second solo album, Rough Mix, was released in 1977, made in collaboration with various artists, for example Eric Clapton and Charlie Watts.

Depressions followed again in 1978, when Keith Moon, the unbelievable drummer of The Who, died in his sleep from an overdose of anti-alcoholism pills.

Two years later, Townshend released his third, first "serious" solo album called Empty Glass. The Who carried on after Keith's death and released Face Dances in 1981. In the same year Pete nearly died of an overdose, after becoming a heroin addict. Other solo albums are

Thanks to the very nice LaylaLeigh and

It's been a pretty bad time for musicians I like and admire recently, Joey Ramone was the first to toddle off this mortal coil before even reaching a half century, Later followed by his bandmate Deedee Ramone, who by all accounts was off the smack but managed to drop dead on his couch to be found by his wife. He did manage to make it to the big five-oh however, but he didn't make it past that. Likewise with Clash frontman and reggae lover Joe Strummer (can't anyone from the first wave of punk make it to 51?). John Lee Hooker also passed away, although at the more reasonable age of eighty-three. John Entwistle did not live to see 2003 either, moving to the next life at age 57 in a hotel in Las Vegas.

More disturbing was his bandmate, Pete Townshend who on the 13th of January, 2003 was arrested on suspicion of 'possessing and making indecent images of children'. His story was that he was in possession of the material for a study on paedophilia. He was caught when he used his credit card to gain access to a child pornography site, along with about 7,000 denizens of the British Isles. While the case remains to be heard, if he's found guilty he could be facing a sentence of five to fourteen years in prison. The scope of his case has been blown out of proportion however; saving a file onto a computer and resizing it, or saving it under a different filename or file type is tantamount to "making indecent images". Hopefully he'll get off (no pun intended), and parents will not have to worry about their children being photographed by the former guitarist of The Who. In fact, in my eyes, the biggest crime here is that it allowed music 'journalist' Julie Burchill to shoot her fat, three chinned mouth off with another long winded pontification on morality in rock'n'roll.

Although, if he's found guilty (and he still wouldn't be as bad as Gary "Leader of the Gang(bang)" Glitter), we should have seen it coming:
  • The Kids Are Alright
  • My Generation
  • Pinball Wizard A "blind, deaf and dumb kid" indeed
  • A Legal Matter Did he see this debacle coming?
  • What was Happy Jack so happy about...
  • Glittering Girl
  • Glow Girl
  • Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand
  • Pictures of Lily
  • Magic (school) Bus
  • Young Man Blues
  • Tommy
  • Slip Kid
  • Pure and Easy
  • The Love Man
  • My Baby Gives it Away
  • Annie
  • Rough Boys
  • North Country Girl
  • English Boy

  • Update: Townshend was cleared at the end of January. Previously, he claimed that before performing the transaction with his credit card and the pornography site, he contacted the Internet Watch Foundation, who initially denied his claims. Later, they acknowledged them and provided copies of his emails.

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