Pete Townshend: Summer Blog

This seems like a good time to catch up here. Last August the Quadrophenia Director’s Cut was done and dusted. I decided then to sign the contract with Harper Collins for my memoirs, picking up a project I put down first in 1998, then again in 2005. I thought I would have an easy ride. I’d already gathered all my archives. That had made it possible to write in a new way about Quadrophenia. I could segue straight into my life story. I had the diaries and papers in front of me. I enjoy writing, I figured for my memoirs all I needed to do was swap a studio for a writing desk, and in six months, I would be finished….


In fact I completed the audiobook recording only yesterday, August 18th 2012. The book was accepted by my publisher just two weeks ago, the day before I flew back from my studio in Rachel’s house in France, to rehearse and perform at the Olympics Closing Ceremony. It’s been a squeeze.


I’m not complaining. I’ve worked in luxury, and with good weather mainly. I wrote a good bit of it while on a family holiday in Antigua where we were first over the line in the New Years Eve sailing race. I know that is a brag, but sailing is teamwork, and all I did was write cheques and sit on deck looking deck-orative. While working on the book I’ve continued to write music. While in France for a few weeks during June and July I squeezed in seven new demos – I’ve got a lot of music now for Floss. So much music is work-in-progress that I really need to stop composing and start pulling the various elements together.


The Olympics gig nearly didn’t happen for us – Roger and I weren’t certain that two old geezers should be there singing about our generation, but I’d so glad we did it. The day itself was immense fun. Really well organised. Backstage, it felt like being a part of a great circus, with ballet dancers, mime artists, street-party trucks and literally thousands of workers. The Spice Girls were in the dressing room next door and seemed so happy to be there, looking spectacular, practicing their vocals (and really singing by the way) and sharing make up bags. I got a few tips. Liam Gallagher and his mates in Beady Eye were mooching about, as were the guys from Kaiser Chiefs (who played Pinball Wizard and were glad to hear I approved).


I saw old friends Kate Moss, Kate Hudson, Eric Idle, Mike Rutherford, Nick Mason, Roger Taylor, Brian May, Phil Palmer (from the Psycoderelict and Lifehouse Chronicles shows), Jules Bowen who used to programme for me at my studio in its heyday, Georgia Jagger (who was in a fashion parade), Annie Lennox and dozens of others. I met lots of artists for the first time. It was very cool.


I missed seeing Ray Davies and George Michael, but that might be a good thing: they’re probably fed up by now with me exalting them both to high heaven.


Roger is now completely in charge of the new video presentation for the forthcoming Who-Quadrophenia tour that begins in November in Florida. He has some really exciting ideas and we have a good team. I am not going to be much help. I’ve got two weeks of PR on my new book in October, with a lot of lead work to do prior to that time. I’m looking forward to the tour, mixing performing with PR interviews in which I hope to tell some of the more dodgy stories that my publisher’s legal department have removed from the book. One thousand pages cut to five-hundred. There are a lot of dodgy stories left over.


Around me, there are some wonderful things happening. My partner Rachel Fuller is deeply into orchestrating Quadrophenia for large orchestra and choir. The test we did on BBC Radio with Jeff Beck playing ‘Love Reign O’er Me’ was really promising. This is something I’ve wanted for years, and one of the reasons we got together fifteen years ago. Yesterday we met with Hans Zimmer who has graciously commissioned one of his inside team to work with Rachel at his London studio. So before the expensive recording sessions, we will be able to hear top-notch computer demos, and rehearse intensely with the singers we like best. This will probably premiere at some charity event in the future, then tour as part of a touring orchestra subscription programme. Symphony orchestras are keen to bring in new repertoire that will widen their audience.


The other project I am delighted about is Tommy. Des McAnuff is going to be directing a revival of our 1993 Broadway version at Canada’s Stratford Theatre where he is in his last phase as director. I’m so proud that he’s chosen Tommy as his swan song. That will open in May next year.


Between shows, and whenever I can, I will continue to develop Floss. I’m allowing myself as much time as I need to get it right.


My grandson Kester came yesterday. A little more than two-years-old he is very keen on recording studios. Some of the time he was pretending to sing into proper microphones, sometimes he was singing into the washing up brush. He’s very good at mouth organ. That, you may not know, was my first musical instrument. Pretty easy, all you have to do is breathe. I hope I retain that facility for a few more years. Life is very good.


That’s it. It’s Sunday in London, sweltering hot, off to lunch.


Pete Townshend 

August 19th 2012