Pete Townshend: Who He Is
It’s a tale that could only be told by the man who lived it, and Pete candidly recounts the story of his, uh, amazing journey in his new memoir, “Who I Am”.
The windmill wind-up move?
Wanted to be a rock star?
Nope. “I wish I had just been a composer.”
His songs about his g-g-generation and teenage angst were rooted in his own troubled childhood.
As just a six-year-old, Pete was sent away to live with his mentally ill grandmother, and the experience of what he describes as the darkest period of his life certainly gave rise to the themes he would revisit as an adult musician, giving voice to a boy named Tommy, who was a tortured child himself, also abandoned by his parents.
Another dark period in his life?
His arrest back in 2003 when his name surfaced in a child pornography investigation, which still dogs him.
A father of three and abuse victim himself, Townshend had campaigned against child pornogrpahy, and said in a recent television interview:
“This idea that there was an industry out there trading in images of children being abused, it was just abhorrent to me.”
He says that in 1999 he used a credit car to log onto a child porn site to show that major banks were making money off of the industry, immediately cancelling the account once he was able to prove his point.
The police confiscated 11 of Pete’s computers and found nothing, and he was given an official “caution” from them instead of facing a trial.
When asked in an interview if he felt “you’re past it at this point?”, he said, “Well, we’re talking about it now…”.
So clearly, although the man was never convicted of anything, and wasn’t even brought to trial, the event still follows him around, unfortunately.
But back to the new book.
In a Rolling Stone magazine book review, Rob Sheffield says:
“His long-awaited memoir is intensely intimate, candid to the point of self-lacerating. It’s a rock god opening up his most human frailties. Throughout the book, Townshend makes himself uncomfortably vulnerable, especially in his deeply saddening memories of childhood sexual abuse.”
Although it must have been painful for Pete to write, it had to be even more painful to experience, and they say pain produces the best art.
Sounds like a fantastic read to all of us Townshend fans who are interested in what shaped this brilliant musician and helped him create some of the most powerful and lasting rock anthems the world will ever know.