Who Are You - The Life Of Pete Townshend by Mark Ian Wilkerson
mobailey at ntlworld.com
Tue Mar 18 17:24:05 CDT 2008
There's a new(ish) book about Pete out this week.
Below is the text from a review of the book scanned from Q magazine.
Also available as a PDF at:
WHO ARE YOU
The Life Of Pete Townshend Mark Ian Wilkerson
**** (out of 5)
THE WHO GUITAR HERO, VERY MUCH WARTS AND ALL
Pete Townshend is a gift. Few writers could invent a character so
compelling, contradictory and downright contrary.
Mark Ian Wilkerson's biography throws these aspects of his hero's life into
sharp relief. Who Are You first appeared under the title Amazing Journey in
2005, but this updated version comes with a foreword from Pearl Jam frontman
Eddie Vedder, a fellow Who obsessive, and crucially, some input from
The bulk of the book, though, is given over to existing material. No
interview, review or soundbite is left unearthed; Wilkerson approaching his
job with forensic zeal. This turns out to be both Who Are You's greatest
strength and drawback. By punctiliously crediting each source ("as told to
Rolling Stone's Anthony De Curtis..."), some of the prose slows to a snail's
Put up against other Who biographies, be they Dave Marsh's Before I Get Old
or Richard Barnes's Maximum R&B, Wilkerson's might be found wanting. It
works, though, by finding stories within stories and casting light on
previously darkened corners of The Who's history.
The reader's interest is also sustained by Townshend's loose, sharp tongue
and the natural pace of The Who's story There's a grotesquely compelling
element to some of the songwriter's exploits in the early '8os: coked out of
his mind at a Pink Floyd conceit, Townshend declares his, very unrequited,
love for actress Theresa Russell. Elsewhere, he gets pissed and passes out
in Mick Jagger's Manhattan pad.
It's hard to think of another rock star so willing to own up to his foibles.
Yet, as Who Are You repeatedly demonstrates, Townshend is just as given to
churlishness. While bandmate Roger Daltrey remains loyal to his mate after
Townshend's arrest for accessing child pornography, he is soon rewarded with
onstage jibes and sneering from the guitarist. The bile is, as Townshend
admits, often a mask for his own insecurity Yet you still wonder why Daltrey
hasn't dished out a beating to his partner more often in their 4O-odd years
of working together. One Townshend confidante eventually throws in the towel
as he'd simply "had enough abuse".
Despite its occasional slowness, Who Are You? succeeds on its depth,
enthusiasm and, yes, the rich pickings to be had from Pete Townshend just
being Pete Townshend. There may be better written books about The Who, but
there'll never be one quite so exhaustive.
. MARK BLAKE
TYPICAL QUOTE: "Most of the time, Pete's a dream to work with and some days
he's the worst person in the world. For no reason at all, he can be a
complete arsehole. As he gets older, it actually gets worse." Don Astley.
PUBLISHER: Omnibus Press, 51Q.Q5
PUBLISHED: 10 March
FURTHER INFO: WWW. townshendbio.com
LIKE THIS? TRY THIS:
The Life Of Keith Moon Tony Fletcher
OMNIBUS, 1999 ****
The hard-partying exploits of The Who's troubled drummer are levelled with
thoughtful critical insight in this excellent rock biography.
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