Pete Townshend famously wrote “I hope I die before I get old” in The Who’s “My Generation.” Well, despite years of drugs and alcohol abuse, he’s made it to 75.
Born on this day, May 19th, 1945, here he is reflecting on some of what’s taken place over those 75 years.
“When the war was over my dad wasn’t present on my birth because he was over in Germany playing to our victorious troops. You know, I’m just continuing the family tradition. I just hope we remain victorious to be honest, because I think we have a great way of life and I think we’re good people and I don’t think we’ve done too much that’s wrong. And if we’re getting things wrong now, let’s try and work out how to improve that.”
“I couldn’t have had better men beside me. I couldn’t have. In fact, if we’d have been four arty-farty art students who all thought like I did it would have been a complete mess. I just used to kind of walk around with my arty ideas and the rest of them got on with the job because I was a deep thinker, I smoked pot and listened to R&B records. But that moment of uniting of what I’d been taught at art school and suddenly realizing that this little R&B band had this potential to make this extraordinary noise.”
“It comes out of that thing of thinking after a while that this isn’t enough and that what I have to do is make some new sounds. And I start banging the guitar around. I imagined that when I hit the guitar on the ground or bounced the guitar on the ground or bashed it on a ceiling or whatever that it would make an interesting sound. And it did. You know, I looked pretty cool doing as well.”
“At one time I was doing like three bottles of brandy a day. I mean quite seriously. You know, and I think I don’t look too bad for somebody that drank three bottles of cognac for 15 years. But the secret for me to be able to tour with The Who and still kind of put on a reasonable show and to be up there and move around and enjoy the music and be able to put my energy into it has been the years that I’ve been clean.”
“The main thrust of this book was the book that I wanted to write when I was 20, which was the music that I had grown up with changed suddenly and I had this new set of customers, the very, very young who we were playing to in Shepherd’s Bush and I had no words really for them. You know, I was an art student and as an art student I felt divorced from the rock and roll audience that we performed before. And I wanted words from them and the words that I was able to give them were the words of inarticulacy, and set those words to music. So the words are yours and the music is mine.”