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Pete Townshend

Broken Record with Rick Rubin, Malcolm Gladwell, Bruce Headlam and Justin Richmond

Pushkin Industries

Society & Culture, Music

4.54.2K Ratings

🗓️ 10 October 2023

⏱️ 76 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript


Pete Townshend, the legendary guitarist and songwriter for The Who, is one of the most decorated rock stars alive. He’s been inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, received Kennedy Center Honors, and lifetime-achievement awards from both the Brit Awards and the Grammys. Pete's iconic power chord-guitar style and early use of synthesizers established him as a musical innovator in the '60s and '70s.

After a string of chart-topping singles in the early '60s, Pete set to work writing the first-ever rock opera, a project that became the double album Tommy. Tommy is widely recognized as The Who’s breakout record, and is considered a masterpiece by many critics.

Following its release, Pete started writing songs and a script for a sci-fi epic called Life House. After that project was scrapped, the songs wound up on different releases from the band over the next decade including their 1971 classic, Who’s Next.

Last month The Who released an epic box set called Who's Next/Life House that contains 155 tracks, 89 of which are unreleased. The set also includes a graphic novel, unheard demos, complete live concerts, posters and collectable pins.

On today’s episode Justin Richmond talks to Pete Townshend about how some of the ill-fated effects of technology that he predicted on Life House have come to pass. Pete also explains why he decided to target a specifically male audience when writing music for The Who. And he gives an unexpected take on the Grateful Dead and San Francisco’s music scene in the '60s.

You can hear a playlist of some of our favorite Pete Townshend songs HERE.

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Malcolm Gladwell here. Paul Simon is one of my childhood heroes.


And my new audiobook, Miracle and Wonder, Conversations with Paul Simon,


is a journey into the life and work of one of the greatest songwriters in musical history.


First thing, with rich stories unheard in classic songs from Paul himself,


Miracle and Wonder is a window into his legendary career like you've never heard before.


Miracle and Wonder is available at MiracleAudioBook.com,


audible, and wherever else audiobooks are sold.


The list of iconic rock guitarists who are also top tier songwriters is pretty sure.


And at the top of that list is none other than the who's Pete Townsend.


He's been inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame, received Kennedy Center Honors,


Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the Brit Awards and the Grammys, and all for good reason.


Pete's iconic power chord guitar style and early use of synthesizers


established him as a musical innovator in the 60s and 70s.


His onstage antics, smashing his guitars, and leaping halfway across the stage mid-song,


cemented his reputation as a consummate rock and roll showman.


It's not for nothing that the who were once known as the world's loudest band.


In the early 60s, the who scored a string of chart-topping singles,


but Pete Townsend wanted the band to try for more than just pop hits.


So he set out to work writing the first ever rock opera, a project that became the double album, Tommy.


Tommy's widely considered the who's breakout album and is considered a masterpiece by critics.


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