By: Amber Harvey
Many of the markers that have come to define true Rock and Roll over the years—the large, sweeping windmill strum, the power chord, the smashing of a guitar—can all be traced back to the stage rituals of one man: Pete Townshend of the Who.
Recognized for having a “wonderful, fluid physicality with the guitar that you don't see often,” Townshend is 10th on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists list, beating out the likes of George Harrison, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Carlos Santana. Be that as it may, it isn’t Townshend’s guitar-playing that solidified the Who as one of the most influential bands of the ‘60s and ‘70s, but instead, his work as the group’s creative leader.
Penning perennial treasures for the Who such as “Behind Blue Eyes,” “I Can See For Miles,” “Summertime Blues,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “My Generation” and the iconic “Baba O’Riley,” Townshend’s music would not only come to define the mod-scene in the 1960s London, but it would also give impetus to the upcoming punk movement of the ‘70s.
To say that Townshend is a lyrical genius would be an understatement. In his long career, the wordsmith has composed songs for an extremely diverse range of renowned artists, including The Sex Pistols, Elton John, David Bowie, Rod Stewart, Genesis, Rush, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Flaming Lips, Limp Bizkit, Poison and Tina Turner.
Although the Who lost their wickedly-talented bass player John Entwistle in 2002 and iconic drummer, Keith Moon, in 1978, the band is still going strong with a 12-date European arena tour this year. In a recent interview with Howard Stern, singer Roger Daltry playfully reminisces about a time that he and Townshend had it out in the studio, saying, “Bless him, he writes great songs, but never get in the ring, Pete.”
“Bless him” is right! Happy 68th to Pete Townshend, the Rock and Roll wizard!
To learn more about Pete Townshend, visit his official website and Facebook, and be sure to leave your comments below!