H.E.A.R. Honors PETE TOWNSHEND
Pete Townshend (official
site) was the guitarist and primary songwriter for the
Who from 1964 to 1982, also participating in the group's occasional
reunions after its formal breakup. Best-known for his conceptual
works, he wrote Tommy and Quadrophenia for the band, as well
as the bulk of its other material. He made his first, tentative
solo album, Who Came First, in 1972. Dedicated to his guru,
Meher Baba, it continued themes pursued in Who's Next and
like that album, contained material originally intended for
an abortive conceptual work, Lifehouse, and it sold modestly.
In 1976, he made a duo album, Rough Mix, with Ronnie Lane,
formerly the bassist in the Small Faces.
Townshend's first full-fledged solo effort was Empty Glass
(1980), which sold a million copies, reached the Top Five,
and featured the Top Ten hit "Let My Love Open the Door,"
as well as the minor hits "A Little Is Enough" and
"Rough Boys." He followed it in 1982 with All the
Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, which was less successful.
Nevertheless, he felt he could no longer write for the Who,
and at the end of the year, the group disbanded following
a North American tour.
Townshend released Scoop, a two-disc compilation of demos,
in 1983 (a second volume appeared in 1987). In 1985, he returned
to thematic efforts with the album White City - A Novel, which
included the Top 30 single "Face the Face." The
same year, he published a book of short stories, -Horse's
Neck. As part of the White City project, he appeared in an
accompanying film, for which he organized a band called Pete
Townshend's Deep End. The unit played only a few gigs, but
one was videotaped and recorded, resulting in the 1986 album
Pete Townshend's Deep End Live! In 1989, he released an album
based on poet Ted Hughes' children's story, The Iron Man.
The record featured guest vocals by John Lee Hooker and Nina
Simone, as well as two tracks featuring the three surviving
members of the Who. Simultaneous with the album's release,
Townshend embarked on a reunion tour with the Who, an event
that overshadowed The Iron Man, which enjoyed only modest
In 1993, Townshend delivered Psychoderelict, another conceptual
work, to mixed reviews and poor sales. By that time, however,
he had successfully reinvented himself as a Broadway tunesmith
-- the theatrical production entitled +The Who's Tommy had
become a runaway hit, earning him a Tony Award and prompting
him to pursue more stage musicals. None of these came to fruition
during the rest of the 1990s,though, and by the end of the
decade, he was releasing live and archival recordings (notably
the long-delayed Lifehouse) through his website and planning
another reunion with the Who.
Pete Townshend gave the founding donation in 1989 to enable
H.E.A.R. to become an internationally recognized nonprofit
organization by musicians, audiologists and physicians for
musicians hearing health. We at H.E.A.R. have a debt of gratitude
and admiration for Pete's foresight in helping younger generations
avoid hearing damage that can be devastating to their music
career. Pete came forward about his own loss in 1989 and the
news rocked the music community.