Pete Townshend Talks About Life and Music in New Book 'Who I Am: A Memoir'

The Who's Pete Townshend in Philadelphia, PA

Pete Townshend has penned his share of autobiographical works as a member of The Who, as a solo artist, and as an opera librettist. To write it down in long book form (544 pages) should have been a piece of cake. Instead, Who I Am: A Memoir, Townshend’s epic, linear story (less scatological than Bob Dylan’s autobiography, less blog-like than Neil Young's) took nearly two decades to complete.

Last week (Oct. 10), Townshend sold-out the Free Library’s event at the University Of Pennsylvania's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (moderated by Philly’s fave Brit resident,  John Wesley Harding) with a chat about Who I Am: A Memoir. To the attendees delight, Townsend strapped on an acoustic guitar and sang several tunes from Quadrophenia, the classic rock opera that The Who will perform at Wells Fargo Center in December.

Townshend told the assembled that Who I Am was “an actual memoir,” one that detailed the life of his family, and was no simple task despite its easy but formal flow. Surprisingly, he also told fans that he wished his career had been more artistic, like the path taken by producer/musician Brian Eno, with its atmospherics and experimentation.

According to Who I Am, Townshend’s alcoholic mother and bandleader father had their own dramas. He trashed his instruments as a form of performance art. He was obsessed with Mick Jagger and Guru Meher Baba, and had as much of a brotherhood as he did a rivalry with Roger Daltrey. And he misses the late Keith Moon dearly. These incidents that shaped him (and in the process shaped the future of rock as we’d come to know it) are the heart of his autobiography. It’s fun hearing stories about how he bashed Abbie Hoffman with a guitar and pissed off Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, but giddier still to hear how these incidents tickled Townshend – that is the best part of the story.

Photo ©Scott Weiner 2012

Posted on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 4:50 PM