Pete Townshend

Pete Townshend
Pete Townshend (2012).jpg
Townshend in 2012
Background information
Birth namePeter Dennis Blandford Townshend
Also known asBijou Drains
Born (1945-05-19) 19 May 1945 (age 74)
Chiswick, Middlesex, England
  • Musician
  • singer-songwriter
  • composer
  • author
  • Guitar

Years active1962–present
Associated acts

Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend (born 19 May 1945) is an English multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter best known as the guitarist, backing and secondary lead vocalist, principal songwriter, co-founder and leader of the rock band the Who. His career with the Who spans over 50 years, during which time the band grew to be one of the most important and influential rock bands of the 20th century.[2][3]

Pete Townshend is the main songwriter for the Who, having written well over 100 songs for the band's 11 studio albums, including concept albums and the rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia, plus popular rock radio staples such as Who's Next, and dozens more that appeared as non-album singles, bonus tracks on reissues, and tracks on rarities compilations such as Odds & Sods (1974). He has also written more than 100 songs that have appeared on his solo albums, as well as radio jingles and television theme songs. Although known primarily as a guitarist, he also plays keyboards, banjo, accordion, harmonica, ukulele, mandolin, violin, synthesiser, bass guitar, and drums, on his own solo albums, several Who albums and as a guest contributor to an array of other artists' recordings. He is self-taught on all of the instruments he plays and has never had any formal training.

Townshend has also contributed to and authored many newspaper and magazine articles, book reviews, essays, books, and scripts, and he has collaborated as a lyricist and composer for many other musical acts. Due to his aggressive playing style and innovative songwriting techniques, Townshend's works with the Who and in other projects have earned him critical acclaim.

He was ranked No. 3 in Dave Marsh's list of Best Guitarists in The New Book of Rock Lists,[4] No. 10 in's list of the top 50 guitarists,[5] and No. 10 again in Rolling Stone's updated 2011 list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.[6] In 1983, Townshend received the Brit Award for Lifetime Achievement; in 1990, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Who; in 2001, he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award as a member of the Who; and in 2008 he received Kennedy Center Honors. He and Roger Daltrey received The George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement at UCLA on 21 May 2016.[7][8]

Early life and education

Townshend was born on 19 May 1945, at Chiswick Hospital, Middlesex (now west London). He came from a musical family: his father, Cliff Townshend, was a professional alto saxophonist in the Royal Air Force's dance band the Squadronaires and his mother, Betty (née Dennis), was a singer with the Sydney Torch and Les Douglass Orchestras.[9] The Townshends had a volatile marriage, as both drank heavily and possessed fiery tempers. Cliff Townshend was often away from his family touring with his band while Betty carried on affairs with other men. The two split when Townshend was a toddler and he was sent to live with his maternal grandmother Emma Dennis, whom Pete later described as "clinically insane". The two-year separation ended when Cliff and Betty purchased a house together on Woodgrange Avenue in middle-class Acton, and the young Pete was happily reunited with his parents.[10]

Townshend says he did not have many friends growing up, so he spent much of his boyhood reading adventure novels like Gulliver's Travels and Treasure Island.[11] He enjoyed his family's frequent excursions to the seaside and the Isle of Man. It was on one of these trips in the summer of 1956 that he repeatedly watched the 1956 film Rock Around the Clock, sparking his fascination with American rock and roll.[12] Not long thereafter, he went to see Bill Haley perform in London, Townshend's first concert.[13] At the time, he did not see himself pursuing a career as a professional musician; instead, he wanted to become a journalist.[14]

Upon passing the eleven-plus exam, Townshend was enrolled at Acton County Grammar School.[15] At Acton County, he was frequently bullied because he had a large nose, an experience that profoundly affected him.[16] His grandmother Emma purchased his first guitar for Christmas in 1956, an inexpensive Spanish model.[17] Though his father taught him a couple of chords, Townshend was largely self-taught on the instrument and never learned to read music.[18] Townshend and school friend John Entwistle formed a short-lived trad jazz group, the Confederates, featuring Townshend on banjo and Entwistle on horns.[19] The Confederates played gigs at the Congo Club, a youth club run by the Acton Congregational Church, and covered Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball, and Lonnie Donegan.[20] However, both became influenced by the increasing popularity of rock 'n' roll, with Townshend particularly admiring Cliff Richard's debut single, "Move It".[21] Townshend left the Confederates after getting into a fight with the group's drummer, Chris Sherwin, and purchased a "reasonably good Czechoslovakian guitar" at his mother's antique shop.[22]

Townshend's brothers Paul and Simon were born in 1957 and 1960, respectively.[23] Lacking the requisite test scores to attend university, Pete was faced with the decision of art school, music school, or getting a job.[24] He ultimately chose to study graphic design at Ealing Art College, enrolling in 1961. At Ealing, Townshend studied alongside future Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood; future Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury also studied there soon after. Notable artists and designers gave lectures at the college such as auto-destructive art pioneer Gustav Metzger.[25] Townshend dropped out in 1964 to focus on music full-time.[26]

Other Languages
aragonés: Pete Townshend
asturianu: Pete Townshend
تۆرکجه: پیت تاونزند
български: Пийт Таунсенд
čeština: Pete Townshend
Ελληνικά: Πιτ Τάουνσεντ
español: Pete Townshend
Esperanto: Pete Townshend
français: Pete Townshend
hrvatski: Pete Townshend
italiano: Pete Townshend
Nederlands: Pete Townshend
norsk nynorsk: Pete Townshend
português: Pete Townshend
română: Pete Townshend
русский: Таунсенд, Пит
Simple English: Pete Townshend
slovenčina: Pete Townshend
slovenščina: Pete Townshend
српски / srpski: Пит Таунсенд
українська: Піт Таунсенд
Tiếng Việt: Pete Townshend