Childhood & Early Life
Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend was born on May 19, 1945 in Chiswick, London, England, into a family of musical talents. His father Cliff Townshend was a saxophonist and mother Betty Townshend was a singer.
As a child, he exhibited liking for music, especially American rock and roll, which he became drawn to in the mid 1950s. When he turned twelve, his grandmother gifted him his first guitar.
From 1961, he began to attend the Ealing Art College, London, England, where he studied to become a graphic artist. The following year, along with school friend, John Entwistle he co-founded the band, ‘The Confederates’.
He and John Entwistle later became a part of the English rock band, ‘The Detours’, which was later renamed, ‘The Who’ in 1964. He was the guitarist of the band.
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From 1964, he wrote quite a few successful singles for the band. Some of the singles include, ‘I Can’t Explain’, ‘Pictures of Lily’, ‘Substitute’, and ‘My Generation’.
On December 3, 1965, the band’s debut album titled, ‘My Generation’ was released. As a part of ‘The Who’, he composed and wrote most of the songs. The album received critical appreciation.
In 1966, ‘The Who’ came out with their second album titled, ‘A Quick One’, which featured the massive hit song, ‘Happy Jack’. The following year the band released its third album, ‘The Who Sell Out’.
In 1969, ‘The Who’ released their next album, ‘Tommy’, which was for most part composed by him. He received much praise and earned critical acclaim for his work in the album.
In 1970, along with Ronnie Lane, he came out with the album titled, ‘Happy Birthday’. This album was a tribute and dedication to Meher Baba, his spiritual mentor.
In 1971, ‘The Who’ came out with the album titled, ‘Who’s Next’, which had elements of rock opera, an idea that was conceived by him. The album was both critically acclaimed and commercially successful.
In 1972, he came out with the collaborative album, ‘I Am’, which was a tribute album to Meher Baba. The same year, he released the album, ‘Who came First’.
In 1973, ‘The Who’ released its second rock opera album, ‘Quadrophenia’, which was well received commercially. Furthermore, it received positive reviews from music critics all over the world.
In 1975, ‘The Who’ came out with their album titled, ‘The Who by Numbers’, which peaked at the music charts. The following year, he came out with the album, ‘With Love’, which was dedicated to his mentor, Meher Baba.
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In 1977, he collaborated with bassist Ronnie Lane for the album titled, ‘Rough Mix’. Some of the songs he wrote include, ‘My Baby Gives It Away’, ‘Keep Me Turning’, ‘Misunderstood’, ‘Street in the City’ and ‘Heart to Hang Onto’.
In 1978, ‘The Who’ came out with their chart topping album titled, ‘Who Are You’, which was their last album with drummer Keith Moon as he died within a few days after the album’s release.
In 1980, he came out with his solo album titled, ‘Empty Glass’, which went on to become one of his most successful albums. The following year, ‘The Who’ came out with the album, ‘Face Dances’, for which he wrote most of the songs.
In 1982, he came up with the solo album, ‘All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes’. The same year, ‘The Who’ released the album ‘It’s Hard’, which was reissued in later years.
In 1985, he released his solo concept album titled, ‘White City: A Novel’. The following year, he came out with the live album, ‘Deep End Live!’ which featured excerpts of live performances from London’s Brixton Academy.
In 1989, he came out with ‘The Iron Man: The Musical by Pete Townshend’, which was for most part composed and performed by him. The same year, his singles, ‘A Friend Is A Friend’ and ‘I Won’t Run Anymore’ were released.
In 1993, he released the concept album titled, ‘Psychoderelict’, which was both produced and engineered by him. The next year, he came out with the compilation album, ‘Scoop3’.
In 1993, the rock musical, ‘The Who’s Tommy’, based on ‘The Who’s’ rock opera album, ‘Tommy’ opened on Broadway. This was also made into a book.
In 2000, he released a series of live albums titled, ‘Live: Sadler’s Wells’, ‘Live: The Empire’ and ‘Live: The Fillmore’. The following year he came out with the albums, ‘Jai Baba’ and ‘‘O’ Parvardigar’.
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In 2006, ‘The Who’ released the album titled, ‘Endless Wire’ and also came out with the live concert album, ‘Live from Toronto’. That year, the band also came out with the extended play, ‘Wire & Glass’.
In 2007, a documentary based on ‘The Who’ titled, ‘Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who’ was released on television. The following year they were also subject to a special tribute concert, aired as ‘VH1 Rock Honors: The Who’
In 2010, ‘The Who’ delivered a performance at the Super Bowl XLIV, during the half-time. The same year the band released the compilation album titled, ‘Greatest Hits’.
‘The Who’ performed, ‘My Generation’, ‘See Me, Feel Me’ and ‘Baba O’Riley’ at the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony in London. The same year the band also announced a tour.
Personal Life & Legacy
On May 20, 1968, he married Karen Astley, with whom he had three children. The couple separated in 1994 and legally divorced in 2009.
In 1974, he organised a benefit show for the Camden Square Community Play Center. He has also donated for other charities, including charities for children and has been involved in many philanthropic activities.
He established the Meher Baba Oceanic in London, for Baba followers. The organisation had film editing and dubbing facilities along with economic stay. He also contributed to the Avatar Meher Baba Trust in India.
In 2003, he admitted to have paid online and registered for a website that advertised child pornography. However, after police investigation it was found that he did not download any images.
He has donated and also carried out services for Amnesty International, a human rights organisation. He has also done charity shows for the same.
He is a supporter of drug rehabilitation and has endorsed this in many of his concerts and musical endeavours.
He lives with his girlfriend, Rachel Fuller, who is a musician in The Wick, Richmond, England.