Pete Townshend, New York City
Photo by Frank Beacham
Pete Townshend, guitarist and primary songwriter for The Who, is 78 years old today.
An English rock musician, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter and author, Townshend also has a solo career. His work with The Who spans more than 40 years, during which time the band grew to be considered one of the most influential of the 1960s and 70s.
Townshend wrote well over 100 songs for The Who’s 11 studio albums, including the concept albums and the rock operas, Tommy and Quadrophenia, plus popular rock and roll radio staples such as Who's Next. He also wrote dozens more songs that appeared as non-album singles, bonus tracks on reissues and tracks on rarities compilations such as Odds & Sods.
He has also written over 100 songs that have appeared on his solo albums, as well as radio jingles and television theme songs.
Although known primarily as a guitarist, he also plays other instruments such as keyboards, banjo, accordion, harmonica, ukulele, mandolin, violin, synthesizer, bass guitar and drums on his own solo albums, several Who albums and as a guest contributor to a wide array of other artists' recordings. He is self-taught on all of the instruments he plays and has never had any formal training.
Townshend has also been a contributor and author of newspaper and magazine articles, book reviews, essays, books and scripts, as well as collaborating as a lyricist (and composer) for many other musical acts.
Here Townshend destroys his guitar in a performance...
My dad commented, when he first saw Townsend smashing guitars, that there were many up-and-coming musicians that would give anything to have them. I agreed.