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Pete Townshend: Who I Am Hardcover – 11 Oct 2012

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Hardcover, 11 Oct 2012
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (11 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000746603X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007466030
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 4.6 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (197 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 97,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘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

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Shelley on 7 Feb. 2013
Format: Hardcover
I was looking forward to this. Pete Townshend has always seemed the most intelligent, the most academic and the most intellectual of that wonderful cohort of Sixties Rockers. His application of Pop Art to Pop Music was inspired, his ambition to see popular music as something way more than just a 3 minute single or a collection of unrelated, disparate tracks collected together to form an "album", proved that rock wasn't just the preserve of the boorish, ignorant and drug addled, though it was that too. He was a visiting editor at Faber & Faber in the mid 80's, he's written some wonderful songs, operettas; he's stood for the redemptive and positive force of rock. He's led a wild, obsessive, creative, destructive, fascinating life ... and he's succeeded in writing an extremely boring and amateurish book about it.

Despite all that he's created, all he's seen, lived through, won, lost, done, spent, used & used up ... he cannot, by the evidence of this book, tell its story. And therein lies the problem ... he is just not a raconteur. His written insight doesn't go much beyond "what do you expect from a rock star", his attempts at humour are risible and he says nothing about the creative processes that have defined his work: composition and recording. His intended Magnum Opus, the Lifehouse Project, itself the subject of one half of a book (Won't Get Fooled Again: The Who From Lifehouse to Quadrophenia by Richie Unterberger) is dismissed in a couple of pages. He doesn't seem to have researched his subject deeply enough (except 2 obvious lifts from Dave Marsh's Before I Get Old), which is odd, considering the subject in question is his life. The style is reminiscent of those facile 30p paperback biogs by George Tremlett you used to get in the 1970's.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By The Scuba Monkey on 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By GAFFMAN on 10 Nov. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I cant exactly remember when I first became a fan of the Who think 1970 after proudly purchasing the Live at Leeds album, since then anything by The Who is something to get hold of and treasure.
Its taken many years and a lot of courage from Pete to both write and release this book but the wait has been well worth it starting with the heartaches of Pete's child hood, the wild years of The Who which many will say have been previously well documented (well I suggest you read the real story) the break up the reunions and the respect both he and Roger Daltrey have for each other.
I could go on and on and some times reviews can get boring but what I do suggest is this is now the right time of year to sit down on those long winter days and nights to read a good book and by purchasing Who am I you cannot get any better
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful By a music fan on 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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