Pete Townshend: ‘The last great album by The Who’

Simon Rice

11 300x225 Pete Townshend: The last great album by The Who

Pete Townshend performs at Bush Hall

Pete Townshend performed an exclusive acoustic set last night in front of a select audience at Bush Hall in Shepherds Bush.

The 66 year-old guitarist from The Who was promoting the re-issue of Quadrophenia, an album Townshend described on the night as “the last great and the most fully formed album by The Who.”

Great is one way of putting it, but inspirational, iconic and many more adjectives could be used to describe it. Originally released in 1973, it would go on to rate among one of the greatest albums of all-time in various music magazine countdowns, while it would also inspire the cult British film of the same name, starring Phil Daniels as the protagonist Jimmy.

With the interior walls of Bush Hall adorned with pictures and the lyrics of The Who and a row of scooters outside, Townshend took to the stage for a Q&A session to discuss the album.

He provided a fascinating insight into the consideration and thought that had gone into its creation, explaining that the album’s central character Jimmy was an ambitious attempt to capture the four members of the Who – himself, Roger Daltrey, Keith Moon and John Entwistle: “I wanted to portray what everyone had been through growing up. I’m amazed at what I managed to achieve on an 8-track studio and what the band did when we came to record it,” he said.

As Townshend reminisced, the dynamic of the universally recognised band came to the fore as he explained to the audience how he and Daltrey (who was in the audience) would get something out of the aggression of The Who’s music, while paradoxically, the notoriously wild Moon did not. He also told how after the release of Quadrophenia it “felt like the end” of the band.

It was clear that the six months trawling though the archives, diaries and demos had been a pleasure for the thoughtful and eloquent guitarist. The album’s re-issue was borne ultimately out of a desire to bring it into the 21st Century, he explained. It was also the only album Townshend produced in its entirety, something he was clearly proud of: “I produced the album, as a composer I had absolute control, and for the one time I had absolute control, it proved that when I do, I get it right!”

Following the Q&A, Townshend performed a rare acoustic set for the small audience. The set list included Drowned, Acid Queen, a cover of Bob Dylan’s version of Corrina Corrina and I’m One.

It may have been more than 40 years ago that he and his band were starting out, playing gigs at the likes of Bush Hall, but with the re-issue of Quadrophenia and his beautiful performance, The Who without doubt have a place in the 21st Century.

Quadrophenia: The Director’s Cut’ Boxset is released on November 14 via Universal Music Catalogue. Go to to find out more and also register at the for further news.

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  • TarquinBroxted

    He is a rock God! He is also Emma’s Dad! 

  •ämer/100001922897030 Johannes Krämer

    Jimmi should drive a Honda XBR 500

  • Anthony D’Angio

    Check out all the photos here:

  • Ángeles

    Not really posting an answer to you, Angelo, but I seem to be unable to place a message if not as a “reply”. Sorry!

    Two out of the original four dead, well before their time; the same with the Beatles, the same with LedZepp, the same with almost everyone involved in the “golden era” of rock & pop…. Time to acknowledge that something’s fundamentally wrong with a form of art and a way of living which would have been impossible without WWII and its ugly, hysterical spin-off, the Cold War. These guys, then young, who bled their brains and nervous systems out in a break-neck race to nowhere, served at the same time as ammunition and cannon fodder in a war unleashed by the system in order to keep “my generation” at bay with our delusions of “anger” and “revolution”. Now they’re old (much older than their actual age) and have nothing to say or do but re-hash their past wonderful material which, heard with the ears of today, sound of sarcasm and defeat. Ever more luxurious and ridiculously expensive re-editions of Quadrophenia, The Dark Side of the Moon, the Beatles canon and what-not are little more than the doleful admission that it was all a lie, no matter what we the public (and they the artists) may have wished to believe.

    Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English (and everyone else’s) way….

  • Nick Hindley

    Whens the book coming out pete?

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