The Kennedy Center

Pete Townshend


Pete Townshend (Musician, singer, composer and writer; born May 19, 1945 in London, England)

Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend was born in 1945 in Chiswick, West London. He came from a musical family, his father a saxophone player with the RAF's own Squadronaires, and his mother a professional singer. He began studying the piano but, after seeing the picture Rock Around the Clock, his vocation was clear. He moved on from jazz to rock, arrived at the blues and took them to cool London clubs with a precocious lineup of John Entwistle first on trumpet and later on bass, Townshend on guitar, and Daltrey singing. Keith Moon joined them in 1964. That was The Who.
Townshend emerged as The Who’s spokesman, the articulate driving force behind what soon became one of the most powerful forces in rock and roll. His body or work, from “My Generation” and "I Can See for Miles," Tommy and beyond, announced to the world that this was not by any means just another infantryman of the British Invasion.  His leaps in the air, his windmill guitar style, his more than joining in on the destruction of instruments on stage, and most of all his furious, crunching power chords created a new rock syntax. In 1967, at the height of The Who's popularity, Townshend became a follower of the Indian avatar Meher Baba, whose gentle teachings inform the rocker’s music to this day. Townshend’s own devotional albums are unique, from Who Came First and Happy Birthday and Rough Mix, right through Empty Glass, The Iron Man, and All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes. Townshend, who suffers from partial deafness, provided the initial funding for the non-profit H.E.A.R. foundation (Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers). He was the first prominent rock musician to donate his services to Amnesty International. His immortal Tommy won the 1993 Tony Award(r) for Best Original Score, also garnering the Grammy for Best Musical Show Album.
Pete Townshend


  • Tommy