Happy Birthday to Pete Townshend, who turns 69 today (May 19th)!!! Townshend, who is the primary creative force behind the Who, wrote nearly all of the band's music and has been responsible for crafting the stories and themes behind such rock classics as Tommy, Who's Next, and Quadrophenia. Townshend’s new single, "It Must Be Done," premiered late last month on an episode of FX’s drama, The Americans. Townshend wrote it via the Internet with the show's composer, Nathan Barr. The Americans portrays a pair of KGB agents living in the U.S. during the Reagan era.
Coming on June 8th is the Who’s new live collection, Quadrophenia: Live In London. The set was recorded on July 8th, 2013 during their tour-closing concert at London’s Wembley Arena. The set will be released in seven different configurations -- including a five-disc metal box. Townshend is currently mining his studio archives to find suitable material for he and Roger Daltrey to record and release in time for the Who's 50th anniversary tour in 2015. Townshend's upcoming multimedia piece, Floss -- which has been half-a-decade in the making -- is also finally due out this year
In 2012, Townshend published his long awaited autobiography, titled, Who I Am, to critical acclaim. Earlier that year, Townshend signed an exclusive, new publishing deal with Spirit Music Group to administer and promote his past and future songwriting catalogue. The pact also includes a long-term publishing agreement for Townshend's upcoming projects, including new songs composed for potential solo and Who releases.
That same year Townshend and his wife of 43 years, Karen Astley, were granted a preliminary divorce in London's High Court. The couple had been separated since 1994 and has three adult children -- Emma, Aminta, and Joseph. Townshend has been romantically linked with musician Rachel Fuller since 1996.
In 2006, after a 24-year-wait, Townshend wrote and produced the Who's comeback album Endless Wire. Despite the album hitting Number Seven in the U.S. charts, Townshend has stated that he felt the album fell short of his commercial expectations, and complained that none of the songs garnered the level of airplay he had come to expect with previous Who projects.
A while ago, we asked Townshend why he needs grand concepts such as Tommy, Quadrophenia, and the recent Wire And Glass mini-opera, behind most of his work: "I just write. I'm just a songwriter, y'know that's what I do. Which is why it's very important for me to have some kind of concept to hold me down, some kind of concept to give my work shape, focus, and direction. Because I don't feel that the Who ever had a clear brief (on what to write for them), ever, ever, ever, ever."
Photo courtesy of Ross Halfin