Friday, May 19, 2006

coolwalkingsmoothtalking Pete is 61

Once again, time to honor my muses on the anniversary of their birth. For nearly 30 years Pete Townshend has amazed me, and today he turns 61. Thanks to The Kids Are Alright, my gang and I discovered the 'orrible Who while the rest of our high school grooved to the sounds of Journey and Reo Speedwagon. The visceral sound and visual punch of Pete's band was just too much be denied, and we were thrilled. I'll never forget the exhilaration I felt walking out of the theater after seeing The Kids Are Alright for the first time. A whole new world had opened up, and my musical life has never been the same.

We convinced our parents to let us see their show in Chicago in 1979, just days after the Cincinnati stampede. We held a special student council meeting to listen to their new album Face Dances. We rented the film (the actual film mind you, this was before VCR) and screened it in our school auditorium, to a packed house. Then we borrowed the film and a projector and watched it at home a few more times (that night). Ultimately, the soundtrack and video became daily rituals.

We made our pilgrimage to a few 'farewell' tours, including the infamous Schlitz Beer Tour of 1983. We marveled at Pete's solo records and dreamed about how great some of that material would sound if performed by the Who. Why the mediocrity on It's Hard when he was holding out with Stardom in Acton, Give Blood and White City Fighting? In 1989 we flocked to see the band perform Tommy in its entirety, with Pete hiding in a glass phonebooth on stage due to his hearing loss. On Pete's Psychoderelict solo tour he told us that the show we saw at the Arie Crown Theater was the "worst of the tour." We didn't care; he played A Quick One. We loved the 1996 Quadrophenia show despite the distractions of Gary Glitter and Billy Idol. Pete seemed re-energized, and the solo acoustic reading of Drowned is an indelible memory. The 2000 and 2002 tours were fabulous, despite Entwistle's untimely death.

Over the years Pete has struggled with the Who as a musical entity. He has spoken about the difficulty of writing for the Who, as opposed to writing music for himself as a solo performer. Yet, some of his songs for the Who are my all-time favorites, my so called 'Desert Island Tunes'. In fact, Pinball Wizard might top the list.

To me it seems like these days Pete has come to terms with it all, and I sense a Who/Pete renaissance. Whether it's Who music or solo material, I look forward to whatever Pete decides to write and perform, and I am grateful for 40+ years of truly fantastic music.

Happy Birthday Pete.

Here are a few lesser known tracks for your listening pleasure:

Listen: Sheraton Gibson

Listen: Heart To Hang Onto (w/Eddie Vedder)

Buy Pete

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Blogger Brucefan1811 said...


I have always been in awe of your and Scott's allegiance to Pete and the Who. It started a long time ago.

I remember a party at Scott's parents' home in high school around our graduation. "The Kids are Alright" was playing on the televison. I asked Scott how many times has he watched this tape and he said "Probably about 37 times."

Never for a second did I think he was telling me a lie or trying to mislead me. He had watched that tape over and over and over. I would guess that you watched that tape together many times with him.

Pete Townshend is one of the greatest artists - ever. No man has ever captured the anger, the angst, the talent, and ferocity of his song writing and his ability to play a gutiar.

I am so glad he is still living and enjoying another birthday. My three favorite songs from Pete and the Who are Join Together, Long Live Rock, and Young Man Blues. The first two songs are basically great songs about the Who and playing great loud music together. Young Man Blues just kicks ass.

Personally, I owe you and Scott a big thanks for introducing me and sustaining a big emotional connection to Pete. Thank God for Pete. He is a treasure.


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