Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend, known principally as the guitarist and songwriter for 'The Who' with a career which spans more than forty years, is 69 today.
What you possibly didn't know about Pete, that he :
* was born in Chiswick, London into a musical family, his father a professional saxophonist in 'The Sqaudronaires' (right) and mother, a singer and was drawn to rock and roll as a boy and saw Elvis in 'Rock Around the Clock' repeatedly at the age of 11.
* got his first guitar when he was 12 and was influenced by Link Ray, John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley and Hank Marvin until he heard "heard rhythm and blues and it was all over."
* said : " The first record I remember was 'Green Onions' by Booker T.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g63ln-QtrVU I never listened that much to Muddy Waters or people like that. It was Steve Cropper (right) who really turned me on to aggressive guitar playing."
* left school Acton County Grammar School at the age of 16 and enrolled at Ealing Art College with a view to becoming a graphic artist and at 17 with school firend, John Entwistle formed 'The Confederates', a Dixieland duet and played banjo with John on horns.
* moved on to 'The Detours', a skiffle/rock and roll band fronted by Roger Daltrey, another former schoolmate and in 1964 renamed themselves 'The Who' along with drummer Keith Moon who had joined them.
* using a Nagra tape recorder given to him by record producers Lambert and Stamp, at the age of 20 in 1965, created 'I Can't Explain' in the wake of the Kinks hit, 'You Really Got Me' and landed a contract with their producer, Shel Talmy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3h--K5928M
* wrote a series of successful singles for the band :
- 'My Generation' :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdRs1gKpeGg at 21 in 1966
- 'Substitute' at 22 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eswQl-hcvU0 in 1967
- 'I'm a Boy' : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4_eSW6D6sc and 'Pictures of Lily' at 24 in 1969
- and 'Pinball Wizard' : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7n--XqizDjY
* became known for his eccentric stage style with lengthy introductions and a signature move in which he would swing his right arm against the guitar strings, reminiscent of the vanes of a windmill and most spectacularly, became one of the first musicians to smash guitars on stage, repeatedly throwing them into his amplifiers and speaker cabinets.
* created the rock operas 'Tommy' and 'Quadropenia' and saw 'The Who' continue to thrive, despite the drug related deaths of Keith in 1978 and John in 2002.
* suffers from partial deafness and tinnitus believed to be the result of extensive exposure to loud music including the concert at the Charlton Athletic Football Club,London, in 1976 listed as the 'Loudest Concert Ever' where the volume level was measured at 126 decibels 32 metres from the stage.
* has been involved with various charities and other philanthropic efforts both as a solo artist and with 'The Who' and organised his 1974 benefit show to raise funds for the 'Camden Square Community Play Centre.'
* has donated money through his services to :
- drug rehabiltation programmes
- children with autism and mental retardation through the 'Music Therapy Foundation' http://www.oxleas.nhs.uk/advice-and-guidance/community-health-services/music-therapy/
- the Californian 'Bridge School Benefit' for children with severe speech and physical impairments
- the Chicago 'Maryville Academy Children's Charity'
- the British 'Teenage Cancer Trust'
- 'Amnesty International'
* in 2011, launched with Roger, 'The Daltrey/Townshend Teen and Young Adult Cancer Program' at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Centre in Los Angeles funded by The Who's charity, 'The Who Cares Trust'.