b. May 19, 1945
A shy, intelligent and sensitve boy embarassed by his appearance (once described as "a nose on a stick" by Roger Daltrey), Pete Townsend formed a band with classmates Daltrey and John Entwhistle that ultimately became The Who.
In 1961, Townshend enrolled in Ealing Art College where he joined the Committee for Nuclear Disarmament and the Young Communist League, and attended numerous lectures by visiting artists, such as Austrian Gustav Metzke, who lectured on the artistic value of auto-destruction. He also learned to smoke pot.
"In 1963, Townshend's art school buddy and fellow pothead, Tom Wright, an American, was caught with marijuana which led to his deportation. Wright suggested Townshend to take over Wright's Sunnyside Road flat and Wright's extensive blues, jazz, and classical record collection that featured Mose Allison, Jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker, among others." (David M. Barling, The Hypertext Who.)
Townsend penned many of The Who's early hits, but unscrupulous management left the band members broke and they were forced to tour incessantly to pay their bills, with the aid of amphetamines. Daltrey wrote "My Generation" to mock the stuttering stupidity of speed freaks.
In May 1969, The Who released the double album Tommy, a Townsend creation that sent The Who into the stratosphere. That year Townsend also produced the Thunderclap Newman album featuring "Something in the Air." Townshend later found spirituality and wrote three tribute albums to guru Meher Baba in the early 1970's. His song "The Seeker" is included on the soundtrack of VIP Bill Maher's documentary "Religulous."
In School of Rock (2003), VIP Jack Black teaches a shy young guitarist to windmill his arm like Townsend. And the torch is passed to a new generation.