Pete and Bowie in The Who?

Sroundtable at Sroundtable at
Wed Aug 18 23:37:11 CDT 2004

In a message dated 8/18/2004 2:26:25 PM Central Daylight Time, 
thewho-request at writes:

> One can only imagine the riches
> we'd have gotten if we had, say, two songwriters the
> caliber of Bowie and Townshend in the same band. 

UGH!!!  This would have been an absolute disaster.  As good of friends as 
they might be, they NEVER could have co-existed in one band.  Pete's insecurities 
wouldn't have allowed it.  The best thing to happen to The Who and Pete 
Townshend was NOT having another major songwriter in the band.  Both Tommy and Quad 
would not have happened.  Here's how the Tommy idea would have gone down:

Record company exec: "A rock opera?  Continuous music with a story?  Will 
never work.  How are we gonna get radio play out of that?  Where are the hits?"

Who manager: "Well, we have Pinball Wizard which can be a radio hit, and we 
might be able to re-work some of the Tommy material to work for radio, and we 
have some real nice material from David and a song or two from John to complete 
an album."

Record company exec: "That's a plan I'll back.  It'll make money.  This rock 
opera idea is destined to flop.  What is the public gonna do with a rock 
opera, for god's sake?"

No Tommy, no Quad, and probably no Who's Next because after Tommy's rejection 
Pete would never have tried Lifehouse.  With Pete alone, there was nothing 
for the record company to fall back on.  If they wanted new Who material, Tommy 
was it.  This was what Pete wrote, and The Who was about what Pete wrote.  Not 
only that, but Roger is a much more versatile vocalist than Bowie with 
considerably more power and range.  Having such an incredible vocal talent as 
Daltrey to write for helped Pete's creativity.  I speak from experience as a lead 
singer in a classic rock trib band.  The Who songs are the toughest to sing 
because of the complex vocal arrangements of Pete Townshend.  He could do that 
because he knew Roger could handle it.  

Had Bowie been lead singer of The Who, the band wouldn't have survived past 
1970, if that.  There would have been a few hits then a major meltdown.  In 
fact, Led Zeppelin probably would have had Moon and Entwistle, because they would 
have jumped ship amidst the Bowie/Townshend turmoil to join a band they could 
really elevate.  


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