September 21, 2020

1986-02-19 – Arizona Republic

1986 02 19 Arizona_Republic_Wed__Feb_19__1986_



As lead guitarist/songwriter ot the British rock group
The Who, Pete Townshend is a rock and roll legend For
more than 20 years Townshend — with his emotional
onstage guitar style as well as his uncompromisung songs
of tebellion — was a rote model for dozens of rock
musicians who followed in his wake. Having gone through 3

because it's something that starts to break you down
physmally Ballet dancers have to quzt at 35 because their
knees start to give way A lot of people in rock do get to
the pomt in Me I have, at 40 years old. where the prospect
of domg a s.x»week tom «5 Out of the question I physically
could not do it, not the way I'm used to domg it And I‘m
not about to wear a toupee and get a tuck. either. I mean,
that is a possibility. but what I can‘t do IS fix these legs

When I go onstage With a band I want to dance, and I
can handle that tor a couple ot days, I dld a show in
London recently, and I made sure that there was a lot of
space in the show tor me to move And I enioyed moving
and I didn‘t overdo it But I remember haltway through the
last Who tour. I just couldn't sleep for the actual pain I was
in my neck, my legs. my calves. everything. It was a
two-hour massage every show just to get me back to the
pount where I could walk And I wasn't even domg that

All these things. Farm Aid, Sun City, Live Aid musicians
are realizing that when they stand together, they have power.
Whether they squabble in the dressing room or not, when
they stand together on a stage they have power.

Real power. The kind of power that we’ve been hoping
to get for 20 years.


variety ot personal problems — the deaths of Who
drummer Keith Moon and Who manager Kit Lambert.
marital troubles and alcohol and drug abuse —
Townshend. atter two decades and then some. decided
(with the exception at one performance at last summer‘s
Live Aid show), that The Who was tinally over.

Not so. however, his solo career. More prolific than ever.
he recently released his tourth solo LP and accompanying
long-torm video. White City. as well as a book of prose.
Horses Neck. In addition. he's been keeping busy
moonlighting with an editorial job at a prestigious British
publishing company.

LISA ROBINSON: Do you think rock videos have ruined
rock and roll?

PETE TOWNSHEND: I think it's in a state at transition
at the moment I think in some ways it's quite an exciting
time. In other ways it's quite depressing Tied in as it is With
promotion. it's only really as good as the idea behind it
The rock song used to entertain and convey messages
and ideas. and invite commitment and even debate
Somehow all at that is being undermined by the
presentation ot musnc through video

0: What were you trying to achieve With your White City
long-torm video?

A: I wanted to come to grips with the fact that I wanted
to do a mu5ic video based on the same idea that the
album was based on. When I say we're in a transutory
period, what I mean is that right now I've had to make a
music VldeO and a record. and the two things are poanting
in the same direction, They're based on the same idea;
they emerge in the marketplace at the same time What I
would much prefer wOuld be the day when I can just work
on the video.

You know when you see someone reading now you tend
to think. "How quaint. he's reading a book“ And it it's
classic literature. then you think. "Oh, wow. that's heavy "
Well. I think in a few years we're going to think that way
about people listening to records. The idea ot the '605
generation. Cheech and Chong, you know. iomt in one
hand. stereo turned all the way up it's 90an to look

0: You once told me that you tell you needed to
perform live in order to get teedback from the audience
You've spent the last three years writing this album hook
and Video, and recording. filming and so forth D» y(m no
longer teel the need for that teedback'7

A: I think the creatiw artist has to
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much: pumping up and down once or twvce And it does
actuaIIy get physically tougher

0: How do you Ieel these days about your years with
The Who?

A: I look back now on the Who years with great
fondness and pleasure. and I'm starting to see the good
things and feel some at the pain that I didn‘t allow myself
to teel too. which IS good, I started to really feel the
poignant pain attached to the people who died, to Kit
Lambert and Keith Moon and others And to remember
how wonderful it was to be young and to have a feeling ot
penetration —— that you could actually make some mark on
society — and that we were doing it as a group ot people
We still very much revel in that

0: The rock pertorrner involved wnth charity has become
very fashionable this past year Do you think that an of that
activity —— Live Aid and so forth — IS a good thing?

A: All these things. Farm Aid‘ Sun City. Live Aid
musmans are realizing that when they stand together. they
have power Whether they squabble in the dressmg room
or not. when they stand together on a stage they have
power. Real power The kind ot power that We've been
hoping to get tor 20 years

We've said the world is a terrible place. this IS wrong.
that's wrong, don't accept things the way they are Power
chords tolIowed by. there are gonna be changes But this
time there was a power chord tollowed by $18 million. and
it‘s a great feeling for peopIe in music to actually feel that
We can do something, and when we. stand together we
achieve this All of that IS important. because I really
believe that a lot of people in rock. while they might not
know what‘s wrong wnth the world, do have acute opinions
They‘ve become socual commentators, and they're
effective in rock because they can say what soonety wants
to hear So, in a sense, they‘re democraticalIy elected
representatives of the people and should be heard

0: Didn't you say that you could have tea wuth Prince.
Charles and also talk wuth the kids in the street about


A: I probably dld say that But It's a mistake to see
Prinre Charles as somebody wuth power in the
establishment because he doesn’t have power He "Id:
terrific II‘if'Ut‘TK.“ but not power rtjally And. as wt h he's
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Pete Townshend