Pete Townshend: Living Legend
Written by: Tony Parham
In the mid to late 1960s the world experienced a second British invasion more focused on the US. Small armies of musicians led by lyrical Generals such as Eric Clapton, Robert Plant, Mick Jagger and four lads known as Paul, John, George and Ringo led the charge. The entire world of music, not just Rock and Roll, would never be the same.
Merely 10 days after the German surrender in 1945, Cliff and Betty Townshend, both musicians, brought forth into the world, a child that would greatly affect millions of lives over the course of six decades. Pete Townshend started playing guitar at the age of 12, and would study as an art student. After years of playing as a professional musician in an array of dance productions, courtesy of his parents and local English bands, Townshend began making his mark in the world. Its quite possible that even in the early and very successful years of The Who, no one anticipated that Pete Townshend would become an author, composer, electronic music innovator, theatrical director and creative super force of the world’s most prominent rock band.
In 1963, a young musician from Chiswick,London forms an anti-establishment, violent, rock band known as The Who led by this mastermind, Pete Townshend. To say the world of Rock would be turned on its ear would be a gross understatement. The music world had its ears split, skull rattled, heart pumping and overwhelming desire to join The Who’s members (Pete Townshend, Roger Daltry, John Entwhistle and Keith Moon) in the destruction of guitars, arenas and hotel rooms.
Then in 1975, not only had the musical landscape been forever reshaped (or scarred depending on point of view), the world of cinema had no idea what it was about to experience.
“Ever since I was a young boy I played the silver ball……..,” lyrics sung by Sir Elton John, undoubtedly a musical legend, standing in 8 foot tall Dr Marten boots, belting out lyrics to stand the test of time. It was the writings of Townshend that would change music in film forever. The Who’s Tommy LP was released in 1969, but it was the theatrical release of The Who’s Tom-my, A Rock Opera in 1975, that would immensely affect music in film and pave the way for other rock operas such as Jesus Christ Super Star and Hair. Amongst its star-studded cast, it has been documented that Townshend saved Eric Clapton from heroin use and thus agreed to play a part in the film. A story of young Tommy Walker who seemingly loses his father in WWII air battle, witnesses the emotional scaring event of watching his mother canoodle with “Uncle Ernie” which in turn eliminates Tommy’s ability to speak, hear and see. The Bally Table King would find solace and create disciples through the world of Pinball. The famous cast, the stunning imagery, and the resonating musical score forever changed those who experienced this visual and auditory master-piece.
Pete Townshend’s legacy is not only well documented and extremely verified, it appears his story and incredible body of work is far from over. Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry (the only remaining living members) are on the cusp of a new studio release from The Who and are currently planning tour dates for 2020.