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Who I Am: A Memoir Hardcover – October 8, 2012
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Long acknowledged as one of rock music's most intelligent and literary performers, Pete Townshendguitarist, songwriter, singer and founding member of The Whoat last tells his wild story in this candid and immersive autobiography.
Raised in west London by an eccentric grandmother, while his parents were off living the early post-war, rock 'n' roll lifestyle, Townshend describes a frenetic childhood of displacement and abuse. Then, in high school, everything changed when he met Roger Daltrey and formed a band that would travel the world, earning fame, fortune and critical acclaim. In Who I Am, Townshend brings us from the inner sanctum of Eric Clapton's drug-ridden hotel rooms to the feet of Jimi Hendrix and his electric kool-aid guitar; from the first trial performance of Townshend's rock opera, Tommy, in a London bar to his infamous arrest (and acquittal) on child pornography charges.
With his trademark eloquence, fierce intelligence and brutal honesty, Pete Townshend has created a work of literature that stands as a primary source for popular music's greatest epoch. Readers will be confronted by a man laying bare who he is, an artist who has asked for nearly sixty years: who are you?
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Good descriptions of behind-the-scenes managerial and financial transactions. It is fun when 1960s/1970s rock stars peel back the curtain and reveal what was really happening among the star making machinery. Even the band relationships had various levels of complexity.
I would have found this book a little more rewarding if Townshend shared song inception and studio recording minutiae with the same detailed candor he writes about his mistakes and regrets.
For me, it is disappointing that Quadrophenia earned so little ink. A reader can only assume he forgot details from the summer of 1973, which was when the Who recorded that epic album. I did smile, however, when I read Townshend's description of the band's attitude while recording Quadrophenia: "The rule we established during recording was that energetic musical rage would be used throughout."
Quadrophenia's rage is audible. In that respect it is a masterpiece.
No doubt that Townshend is a complex and creative force who has inspired many. This book is among the best rock memoirs.