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Pete Townshend: Who I Am [Hardcover]

Pete Townshend
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
RRP: 20.00
Price: 14.52 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

11 Oct 2012

He is one of the greatest musical talents Britain has ever produced. But even as the principle songwriter and lead guitarist for The Who, it would be unjust to define Pete Townshend’s life simply through his achievements with bandmates Daltrey, Moon and Entwistle.

Noting that he has sold over 100 million records over a fifty-year period goes some way to quantifying his accomplishments, but numbers only scratch the surface of his contribution to popular culture.

An avid student of his profession, during his career he has been credited with the creation of the concept album, worked as a literary editor, developed scripts for television and the stage, and written songs that have defined a generation. The thinking man’s rock star with a dedication to his craft unlike any other in the business, he continues to inspire new generations of performers and writers with a continuing commitment to his art.

Now, in one of the most eagerly awaited autobiographies of recent times, this icon tells about his incredible life and elaborates on the turbulences of time spent as one of the world’s most respected musicians – being in one of rock’s greatest ever bands, and wanting to give it all up.

Incredibly, as a man who has achieved so much, this truly unique story of ambition, relentless perfectionism and rock and roll excess will be regarded as one of his greatest achievements.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (11 Oct 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 000746603X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007466030
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15.8 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 49,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

‘More honest than any fan would have hoped. Maybe nobody knows what it’s like to be the bad man, to be the sad man, behind blue eyes—but Who I Am is as close as we are likely to get.’ Rolling Stone

‘Astonishingly frank, detailed and heartfelt.’ The Sun

‘Whatever the subject, he writes passionately and eloquently.’ The Times

About the Author

The defining guitarist of a generation, Pete was the powerful creative force behind The Who, widely regarded as one of the greatest rock bands of all time. His musical knowledge and writing ability was and is unparalleled, and his taste for rebellion renowned. The destruction of the very guitars that resounded with the legendary tracks My Generation and I Can’t Explain brought him acclaim and notoriety in equal measure, but his pure passion and talent has guaranteed his status as an icon and authority on rock ‘n’ roll for decades. Pete has widely been cited as an inspiration to countless musicians, celebrated in their own right, and continues to perform to sell-out audiences across the globe with his fellow band members.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, but... 16 Oct 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had been looking forward to reading this book since it was first announced. It's entertaining, but also strangely disappointing in terms of not living up to high expectations - those expectations having been raised simply by the highly intelligent and articulate nature of the author. The tone of the text is rather academic and sedate and it rather lacks the passion and wit that has typically been present in the author's interviews, articles and letters. It is as if it is the product of a therapist coaxing the facts of a story out of a patient for a clinical document. Much of the story has been documented elsewhere in detail, drawing upon interviews and texts, but there are a number of personal insights and revelations that do expand upon it. I do think that the book suffers from being too condensed and edited. Many key milestones in the author's career and development flash by in only a few lines when they warrant far more detail and exploration. In fact, the book could well have been twice the length and split into two volumes to do its subject greater justice. The style of the narrative is to a degree confessional in its accounts of the largely self-destructive lifestyle that the author has frequently led and of the strain that he subjected his wife, family and friends too. However, the emphasis is on documenting that lifestyle and not really clarifying or exploring the motivation or reasons for it. The portrait the author paints of himself is at times quite uncomfortable. Read more ›
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars All The Best Heroes Have Chinese Eyes 14 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover
As I listened to the 'Live at Leeds' album (still, in my opinion, the finest live album ever recorded) when I was 17 I used to imagine that I was Pete Townshend, a guitar god up on the stage, capable of summoning great waves of exuberance from a simple instrument. I longed to be able to express myself with such power, to conjure up emotional depths and link them to a tsunami of sound lifting a pleb like myself up and away from the turgid and mundane world. But it turns out being Pete Townshend wasn't much fun. According to this book, it took him a long time to grow up. He was a hero of mine, but no longer.
I think, in many ways with this book he destroys the myth that fans like me had of him, and perhaps that's the function of a good autobiography. My conclusion on reading it though is that the book is passable. Ironically, it's not as rewarding a read as the book he refused to be interviewed for: 'Dear Boy: The Keith Moon Story', which captures the spirit of the band without treating them too reverently. The trap that Townshend falls into is that he appears to be in awe of his own legend. Nothing wrong with that I suppose, many old rockers (I'm thinking of George Harrison) totter into their dotage thinking the world owes them a huge debt of gratitude. And I suppose I do - when I was just beginning to appreciate music he was there to help me realise what sounds could be truly life changing. Maybe there was still a part of that 17 year old still in me, longing to recapture the feeling of hearing those last few crashing cathartic seconds of 'Magic Bus' - what the book gave me was a straight retelling of a story I already mostly knew.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can you see the real me? Townsend Bares All 12 Nov 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Here's the problem with most of the reviews that you'll read here on Amazon: most people writing them are, unsurprisingly, Who fans. This means they're measuring this book (an Pete's behaviour and stories) against their own projected image and thoughts on him. He is, after all, just another bloke and the result is the sound of hundreds of Pete projections crashing from their respective pedestals.

Objectively, this appears to be a clear, well written book. It's honest and surprisingly self-deprecating. Pete is clearly a man who has battled and continues to battle his demons. Demons from his childhood. Demons in the form of mental illness and compulsive behaviour. Demons in trying to find order in the chaos of his life and the excess and premature deaths of those in his circle. Demons in searching for that 'ultimate' project that would somehow, somewhere capture the visions, sounds and ideas he has in his head. All the major events of his life from a troubled childhood, through the formation of The Who, their rise to greatness and eventual self-destruct are all described in satisfying detail. If I had to level a criticism I would say I wanted to know more about the inter-band dynamics and characters. What were John, Keith and Roger like? I felt by the end of the book that I knew Pete reasonably well - or as well as you can from a book - but that the other band members felt like shadows, cardboard cut-outs and distant from the action. But it may just have been me. The writing is direct and very factual. Sometimes slightly too much so and some more humour would be welcome. Overall, I would say it was a solid, honest and interesting ride with a man not ashamed to open himself up and let everyone see him, warts n' all. Thanks Pete.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It could have been more..
I have spent 30 years reading PT interviews and listening to him drone on about his internal processes and where the songs came from and how he crafted them. Read more
Published 14 days ago by 12stringbassist
1.0 out of 5 stars Didnt finish it !
Got sick of him going on about how he 'invented' this or 'invented' that style of playing. The guy is so far up his own a**e ! Read more
Published 18 days ago by George G
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
Great insight to a true genius and one of the greatest bands in the world ! Can't wait for Rogers !
Published 19 days ago by Jon
5.0 out of 5 stars I now know more about who you are
I have read many musician biographies but this was something else. The music became secondary to a sometimes sad but also inspiring story of Pete's struggle to keep it together and... Read more
Published 29 days ago by Rodge
5.0 out of 5 stars life and times
Interesting times of Pete Townshend from world war 2 and dark beginnings a stunning legacy was forged. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Brian Mcpherson
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange and (unintentionally) funny
If any member of "Spinal Tap" had written an autobiography, this would be it. Bless old Pete, he appears pompous, self-absorbed and without a shred of humour. Read more
Published 1 month ago by maggy bagby
5.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected - it was better
I've been a Who fan for more years than I care to remember. I think I was expecting the usual sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll and not much else. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Interestingly interested..
This guy has more or less grown up alongside me as far as age and circumstance allows us, and although our paths are divergent, it is fascinating to hear/read how his life has... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Inquisio
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
Oh I have always loved Mr Townshends music and have been so looking forward to the release of this book. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Michael Leeming
3.0 out of 5 stars On balance a worthwhile read
I'm not a committed fan, there are some Who albums I've never listened to, so I probably don't form the target audience for this book, yet I found it a worthwhile read. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Newportonian
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