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on 8 May 2017
as a big who fan i had to buy this book. Pete tells it like it was warts and all. it lays his life bare and what a life he's had. anyone with any interest
in music will be pleased with this.
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on 9 April 2017
I'd read some bad reviews of this but I wanted to try it since I'd been a long time fan of the band. I only managed about five pages. The miserable , self-pitying, pompous tone is very hard to take.
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Good read. Good value for money. Interesting Who facts would recommend it to any Who fans. Lots of rock and roll names (all starting off around the same time as the Who).
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on 4 December 2013
Read this book quickly as it was easy to read. He is quite dismissive about certain stuff but I guess that is his personality, he is brutally honest and this is a must read for fans of The Who and Mr Townsend himself.
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on 2 December 2016
great read for all pete townshend fans and who fans alike but id say more for the people who want to find out more about the life of pete townshend
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on 12 November 2012
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.

From a personal point of view, as a Who fan, Pete fell slightly from the pedestal I'd put him on. That's neither a good or bad thing. It's just the truth and often a consequence of reading an autobiography. A bit like watching the behind-the-scenes extras on a DVD. Once you know how the magic is done it can often make you appreciate something more - even if some of the mystical magic is taken off. Pete comes over as troubled most of time, spinning the plates of his various projects, band commitments and family life often at the expense of his health. Usually it ends with Pete falling off the wagon and into drugs of some description and/or emotionally 'lashing out'. This cyclical process that despite being now in his mid-60's he has yet to break. Maybe he never will. That's not a criticism of the man, more of an observation. It also seemed odd to me that someone who is clearly so intelligent can (still) be a follower of Meher Baba and be so superstitious in his outlook in some respects. Deciding things on the flip of a coin, assigning meaning to random events, buying placebos, seeing 'signs' in the nothingness etc - A child-like belief in destiny and the after-life or spirit at odds with his clear intellect (labelling it 'spiritual'). I can only suppose that this child-like longing may be related to his unconventional and sometimes harrowing childhood - it may be responsible for some of his wonderful and moving music. He comes over as a man in combat with the various aspects of his personality; on the one hand with high morals and prepared to go to extraordinary lengths in loyalty to friends, then on the other happy to cheat on his wife, feeding the self-loathing aspect of his pysche. But, most of all, he comes over as someone very honest, searching for something that I hope he finds one day.

I'm now off to listen to Quadrophenia extremely loud!....:)
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One thing I have found having read many Rock Book autobiography books is how tortured most of these musicians seem to be (or were). Gregg Allman, Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, even Rory Gallagher had his demons.
Pete Townshend has written an honest and open account of his life giving the reader an inside to his thinking and his passions. At times the book is difficult to read when he discusses the many issues he had with his personal life, his obsessions, his inability to love is wife, his drinking etc.
What I did enjoy is the fact he is opening up and telling us his story in a very intelligent and entertaining way.
You do get to know what Pete is all about and that is what I brought this book for, so its a good book if you want to know what is in the mind of one of the greatest musicians in the past 40 or so years.
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on 5 November 2012
For fifty years or so, I have enjoyed The Who's music and admired Pete Townshend. As from today, after reading this book, the music lives on for me, but Pete as a person clatters loudly from the pedestal. What a pedantic, self-satisfied prick my hero turns out to be! She had big breasts, blonde hair and we had sex. I was feeling tired, so I got drunk. I was confused, so I swallowed an apothecary. I didn't know the meaning of life, so I joined a sect. Repeat, repeat, and repeat again. It goes on for five hundred pages, with different blondes, different bottles of Remy Martin, different chemical substances and a total lack of spiritual profundity. Oh, and he wallows in his own vomit a couple of times for good measure. Does all this tell us anything about the music, the guitarist, the song-writer? No. Pete himself is clearly very pleased with himself, consistently refering to himself as an ARTIST (for whom, presumeably, allowances should be made), but nowhere do we get any real insight into what makes him tick. The name-dropping becomes incredibly tedious after the first twenty pages or so, but rest assured: it will continue to the bitter end. Meanwhile, artistic disasters like Psychoderelict are turned into Cistine Chapels, screwing other guys wives into a heroic pastime and the buying of yet another mansion/yacht/recording studio into life-changing reactions to unexpected events. At the end of the book, I found myself truly feeling sorry for Pete: not so much because of the big bad world misunderstanding his alleged (and only superficially illuminated) taste for kiddy porn, but rather because he has apparently failed to achieve anything of any value in his entire career -and even that fact manages to escape him, witness his desire to publish 500 pages of emptiness. The last sentence in the book reads 'if in doubt, just play'. O, how I wish Pete had heeded his own advice here, or some strict editor had whittled the entire endeavour down to the eighty or so pages it, at most, deserves.
Two stars rather than one, only because Pete's descriptions of the sixties vividly illustrate the total shallowness our kids always suspected.
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on 16 October 2012
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. Whilst his audience eagerly awaited his and The Who's recordings and performances, the flipside of producing and maintaining those triumphs seems to have taken a very heavy toll on his relationships with those closest to him and the question that is left hanging is really one of whether the artistic and commercial successes have truly been worth the cost of the damage that he has inflicted on himself and others. Given the author's tendency to recycle and revisit his work, I hope that this work will one day be revisited and expanded in such a way as to give more of an insight into what makes him tick and what motivated him to do his best work. Until then this is the book to read.
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on 3 June 2014
This is a big long listen, about a big long life in music, and in short, it's brilliant.
Pete Townshend reads his own life story across 70 years and 15 CDs, and frequently amuses himself with his past indiscretions, errors of judgement and false-steps. He also manages to pronounce his first wife's name (Karen) differently every time he reads it, which seems to tie-in with the old maxim that if you can remember the 60s you weren't there. That human touch to the narration is one of the many charms of this audio-book, along with the sheer fascination of listening to the unfolding career one of BritRock's true champions, from 60s Mod pioneer to hard rocker, to co-conceiver of concept rock, and finally as stadium hell-raiser. There must be something for every music fan somewhere in that range of musical generations. As you would expect from someone who initially made his name smashing guitars on stage long before it was fashionable, Townshend pulls no punches in telling his life story - sexual inhibitions, sexual indiscretions, sexual accusations are all worked-through carefully and thoughtfully with the benefit of hindsight, and by the end, who he is has been answered in full. A star. After 10 of the discs I had to consciously slow down my rate of listening as the end was approaching just too quickly.
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