Happy birthday Pete Townshend!


Pete Townshend (born May 19, 1945) is a British rock musician, songwriter, and author. He was the leader of the band The Who, most known for writing "My Generation," and the rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia. He has also had an extensive solo career. He is listed as no. 10 on Rolling Stone's 100 greatest guitarists of all time.


Townshend was born in Chiswick, London to Cliff and Betty Townshend. Both of his parents were in music– his father played the saxophone and his mother sang. His father bought him his first guitar when he was 12. He attended Ealing Art College for graphic design, but after one year, had formed a band with his friend, John Entwistle. The two moved quickly through various bands, with Townshend playing banjo, and later guitar. They joined Roger Daltrey's band The Detours, then the band added Keith Moon on drums, and eventually this became The Who.

the_whoImage  via Tony Frank/Sygma/Corbis


mage via J. Barry Peake / Rex Features/Courtesy Everett Collection


Jimi Hendrix with The Who

Townshend quickly became the band's spokesman. In the mid 1960s, Townshend wrote the songs

"I Can't Explain",

"Pictures of Lily",


"My Generation",


 These songs came to define London's punk scene at that time.

The late 1960s saw The Who veer toward and pioneer rock operas, initially in Townshend's attempts to mock the radio business. First, there was The Who Sell Out (1967) and then the full fledged opera Tommy in 1969.

The Who Sell Out, Part 1

Through the 1960s, the band began to develop the habit of smashing guitars while on stage, first as part of an accident and then eventually as a sort of publicity gimmick. The Who's being labeled one of the best live bands throughout the later half of the century is partially attributed to this aspect of their performances.


Townshend then moved toward a more folk sound due to his interest in Indian guru Meher Baba and devotional music. He recorded music apart from The Who with fellow follower Ronnie Lane of The Faces. One product of their collaboration was Rough Mix (1977).


Pete Townshend with Ronnie Lane 

Townshend continued to record apart from the band. He entered a period of exploration culminating in Empty Glass (1980) and All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes (1982), which was not well-received.



In the mid-1980s, Townshend published a series of short stories called Horse's Neck. He then returned to music, and in 1989 reunited with Entwistle and Daltrey as The Who. Since the mid 1990s, Townshend has continued to tour with surviving band members. In 2002, Entwistle died while on tour, but the band continued to tour.


In 2006, he published a semi-autobiographical story, The Boy Who Heard Music, as a serial blog, but it ended later that year.

Townshend has been an avid drug rehabilitation advocate, playing benefit concerts and devising a plan for a drug rehabilitation center that never came to fruition.


Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Monday, 19 May 2014
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