Happy Birthday to Pete Townshend, who turns 72 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. The Who and Guns N’ Roses recently announced the first few shows of a joint South American tour. New dates on the books include Guns being added to the Who’s “Rock In Rio” gig on September 23rd in Rio de Jeneiro, Brazil alongside Incubus. Guns N’ Roses and the Who will also share the bill on October 1st in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Blabbermouth reported additional dates are still coming for Brazil, Chile, and Peru, although no concerts have been announced yet. The Who has also announced the first six-night run of an ongoing Las Vegas residency at The Colosseum At Caesars Palace for this summer. The Who kicks off its summer dates on July 13th in Quebec City, Quebec at Festival D’ete de Quebec at Plains Of Abraham.
It was revealed earlier this year that Townshend had married his companion of over 20 years, singer-songwriter-musician Rachel Fuller. Fuller appeared on the British radio program, English Harbor Radio, and while talking about many other things, discussed the fact that she and Townshend took the plunge back in December during a civil ceremony, which “took about eight minutes” in front of only two people. The marriage marks the second for the Who guitarist and the first for Fuller, who was 43.
Coming to CD/DVD and Blu-ray on June 2nd is the Who’s Live At The Isle Of Wight 2004. The set, captured on June 12th, 2004, marked the band’s first return to the legendary UK festival since 1970, and was one of only 19 shows the Who played that year.
2015 saw the release of Townshend’s latest project, the new album, Classical Quadrophenia. The new ‘symphonized’ version of the legendary rock opera was orchestrated by Townshend’s wife, musician and composer, Rachel Fuller. The album — which also features Townshend on vocals — is a showcase for operatic tenor Alfie Boe singing Roger Daltrey’s original parts with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Oriana Choir conducted by Robert Ziegler. The revamped Quadrophenia premiered on July 5th, 2015 at London’s Royal Albert Hall starring Townshend, Boe, along with the famed orchestra and choir.
In addition to the studio version of Classical Quadrophenia, Townshend also released the 17-track solo compilation, Truancy: The Very Best Of Pete Townshend featuring two new songs.
Last year, Townshend revealed to Rolling Stone that he is slowly sifting through his database of demos and figuring out what needs to be done with them. Although he has released three separate volumes of Scoop demo collections over the years, nearly every work he’s created has a self made home studio recording of the tune — and in later instances it was simply used as the backing for the final track. Most recently, the older demos have found homes on the box sets for My Generation, Tommy, and Quadrophenia, but now he’s looking at them beyond their role as “bonus material.”
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 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 UME/Graham Hughes