Who I Am: A Memoir

Who I Am: A Memoir

Pete Townshend

Language: English

Pages: 560

ISBN: 006212725X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


From the voice of a generation:

...smashed his first guitar onstage, in 1964, by accident.
...heard the voice of God on a vibrating bed in rural Illinois.
...invented the Marshall stack, feedback, and the concept album.
...stole his windmill guitar-playing from Keith Richards.
...detached from his body in an airplane, on LSD, and nearly died.
...has some explaining to do.
...is the most literary and literate musician of the last fifty years.
...planned to write his memoir when he was 21.
...published this book at 67.

One of rock music's most intelligent and literary performers, Pete Townshend—guitarist, songwriter, editor—tells his closest-held stories about the origins of the preeminent twentieth-century band The Who, his own career as an artist and performer, and his restless life in and out of the public eye in this candid autobiography, Who I Am.

With eloquence, fierce intelligence, and brutal honesty, Pete Townshend has written a deeply personal book that also stands as a primary source for popular music's greatest epoch. Readers will be confronted by a man laying bare who he is, an artist who has asked for nearly sixty years: Who are you?

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Prize-winning novelist and playwright Caryl Phillips was on the same junket, and we hung out a little, going clubbing after readings and having breakfast together. We went to a nightclub and I took a small drink, which happened very rarely; I knew it was dangerous, but it helped with my anxiety. In Sheffield three young Mods sat in the front row wearing their parkas, holding a guitar with a Union Jack painted on it and grinned while I read my tales of decadence. In Dublin I was joined by Irish

26 May asking if I would agree to do a tour to help. His situation is pretty dire. The bank have been bouncing cheques on him, he’s already topped up his mortgage to the absolute maximum and his credit cards have been blocked. He lives by selling his guitars, but he can only leak those onto the market to maintain price/supply/demand. Not good. For you and I it’s a case of ‘but for the graces of God …’ In the end I came round to the feeling that if it was me in this situation I’d pray I had the

and announced before the show that he couldn’t perform. Rachel and I had an Attic Jam planned in Austin at South by South West, and decided to spend longer there while Roger recuperated in a Miami hospital. Roger had been struggling with throat problems, which later turned out to be due to pre-cancerous lesions. At the time none of us knew what to do, but Roger battled like the fighter he is to do good shows. This made it all the more stunning when he finally admitted he could go no further, and

and I don’t think their organ volume on stage has since been surpassed, Vanilla Fudge were not Jimi Hendrix. Poor Jimi. Someone must have told his managers that The Who had reached a huge audience by touring with Herman’s Hermits (wrong!), so they sent him out to support The Monkees. It’s easy to forget how huge they were by this time. Their album had been number one all summer, and their TV series – which even music business’s most serious intellectuals seemed to enjoy – was a massive success.

Indeed, with time much of what he envisaged for The Who came to pass. Interviews Nik had conducted on our recent tour informed the cameos he created for each member of the band. For me they made sobering reading, and I decided not to share the treatment with my fellow band members, afraid of the hurt that it might cause. In hindsight this may not have been the best decision, but at the time it seemed right. Of course anyone looking at The Who in this period would have seen a lot of comedy,

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