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Who Are You: The Life of Pete Townshend [Hardcover]

Eddie Vedder , Mark Wilkerson
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 Mar 2008
This edition has been expanded to include a new interview with Townhend himself as well as some revealing contributions from members of his family and Who insiders. Having now reached his sixties, Townshend has battled drug and alcohol addiction while becoming one of rock's most eloquent and intelligent spokesman. Ventures as a solo artist, Internet pioneer, literary editor and short story writer have vied with one another while his well-publicised public rows with Who singer Roger Daltrey have become the stuff of legend ...and recent Who revival tours have ensured that the musician from West London who helped revolutionise 60s rock can still be seen doing what he became famous for in the first place. Meanwhile this new edition of a distinguished biography reminds us that the excitement that Pete Townshend has generated and brings this story right up to date with many fascinating stops on the way.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 642 pages
  • Publisher: Omnibus Press (14 Mar 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847722431
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847722430
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 16.6 x 5.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 882,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


It's massive, extremely detailed and always readalbe account of Townshend's life. --Record Collector --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Though almost 600 pages long, this is a very incomplete biography of Who guitarist and songwriter Pete Townshend. It goes into laborious detail on his musical career and touring schedule, but pretty much ignores his private life, giving almost no information that wasn't already available.

There's endless pages detailing seemingly almost every live show Townshend and the Who did, what songs he played, and copious extracts from interviews from throughout Townshend's career. Townshend has always been in the habit of talking a lot, and this bio relies heavily on his already-published words. Nothing from his first wife, though, or his current partner, or his parents, or his kids, so all we find out about Townshend the man is what he himself says. Wilkerson hasn't tried to explore any deeper. I guess he feared losing Townshend's cooperation. But it means we find nothing out about Townshend as a person.

The first half of the book is still interesting enough for Who fans - though you'd definitely have to be a pre-existing fan to find it readable. Keith Moon's death in 1978 happens half-way through the book, leaving an excessive 300 pages to go through the later part of Townshend's career: these years are given as much attention as the Who years, and it's really dull, each public appearance and concert described in pointless detail. The most newsworthy happening in the last decade for Townshend was probably his arrest in 2003; that's here, but only the stuff that was already in the papers.

Overall, this book could have done with a lot more new interviews with those close to Townshend, and less regurgitation of stuff from the media; it is also written in a style that is quite characterless. Some editing of the latter half would have saved me some tedium, as well. A decent "research tool" (as the quote from Mojo on the back described it) but this book wasn't cheap and I expected more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Superior Cut and Paste Job 3 Feb 2011
On the plus side I found this a very easy read - I got through it on a couple of long haul flights over a few days and enjoyed it overall. However this is little more than a cut and paste job, admittedly a superior one. I longed for the author to put forward some kind of opinion of his own - particularly around the music, where he relied on contemporary reviews from often questionable sources. For example, I find Townshend's mid 80s work to be his most personal and in many ways his finest - All the Best Cowboys and White City particularly, however it's simply not given the focus it warrants and the author gives none of his own opinion, despite claiming to be a huge fan. So it's not a bad book, but I didn't feel I knew Townshend any better by the end of it. I really wanted the author to interpret often conflicting views and opinions from Townshend and give a view as to motivation etc, but he never did.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I can see for miles 5 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Thanks to Pete for letting me and other readers to have a peek into his life, his ups and downs. Touching honesty from a very integre man.
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I have followed and watched the Who and Townshend for many years and am constantly astounded and amazed by Pete Townshend. He is filled with a mental and physical power, and his fire and aggression ,mixed with humour and dazzling intelligence, when he is on stage his energy and presence is awe inspiring and i defy anybody to take their eyes off him . Everything about him is pure Pete Townshend ,he is quite frankly a total 'one off'. From his totally distinctive physique and look; His syle of performing and playing and his creative output as a whole. He is now in his middle 60's ,but still powering away ,in fact i think he's enjoying himself more than he has in a long time. He still has the distinctive Townshend look, but he's grown into it and being a cartoonist and caricaturist ,i think he's got a fantastic face ,from the nose to those amazing blue eyes ,energy and character burst from every pore.
As i said Pete is a total 'one off' and when he was younger ,felt left out and a bit of a freak with his gangly build and big nose. Went to art school to try and impress the girls and joined a band to 'keep them coming'. Townshend adopted an aggressive ,know it all ,trendy ,arty character that evolved into a not particualy pleasant character over time, mainly as a defence mechanism, attack being the best form of defence. In the book he is described sometimes as a vicious bastard who can say really nasty hurtful things in an arguement, although he was a friendly bloke who was humourous and liked to go to the pub with Moon and Entwhistle mainly, as well as the crew .When the Who were 'up and running', it was left to Pete to write their stuff.
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