Part five of Pete's fan interview

jimthewhofan at jimthewhofan at
Mon May 10 22:05:24 UTC 2010


PT: I always felt John was more important in the Who as a musician than Roger. 



 Thanks Pete, for saying what all of us knowledgeable Who fans knew years ago. 


-----Original Message-----
From: Jim M <nakedi at>
To: The Who (IGTC) <thewho at>
Sent: Mon, May 10, 2010 9:43 am
Subject: Part five of Pete's fan interview

Pete's Blog
9th May, 2010
Garethnh: Roger has been quoted as saying that John's volume was a problem in 
the later years due to his deafness. Did this have any impact on yourself during 
rehearsal/on stage at all? It always makes me laugh that Roger always stood in 
front of John's amps then said he was too loud!

PT: I always felt John was more important in the Who as a musician than Roger. 
(Ed: steady now). Maybe he was more important than Keith or me. He was certainly 
a better musician. So although I sympathised with Roger's predicament, I also 
knew that Who fans worshipped John, and his sound, in a way that indicated an 
understanding of John's real genius. 

John was never too loud for my taste. I have had more trouble over the years 
with noisy drummers. However loud someone plays, all I care about is that they 
listen, so Roger is right on two counts. When John started to go deaf he 
couldn't listen quite as well, and started to guess, and sometimes his guesses 
were wrong. And Roger could not simply turn up his volume, but if he did manage 
to get louder on stage it was often his vocal screams that hurt my ears, not 
loud bass. Let's be honest, we were loud, maybe too loud, but the music, the 
period, the whole message we carried required absolute concentration from the 
audience. We used volume to guarantee that.

Roger has had a hard time being the singer in such a loud band. He has battled 
and lost most of the time, but he has always come back to battle anew. At the 
death it emerged that his love for John was far greater than mine. I was 
grateful to John, and I adored him, but Roger's loyalty to the other members of 
the Who has always been of a very high order. I just felt we were in a band, an 
accidental band that happened to make good with a few new tricks. Roger 
reinvented himself entirely around the time of Woodstock in 1969, and from then 
on I think we were far better musically. He has always maintained a sense that 
the Who began with him, and was his life's dream come true. But the rest of us 
never lost the idiotic schoolboy competitiveness that had marked our very early 
years. Each one of us wanted to be louder than the other back then, it was a 
hard habit to break.

Kungphooey8: I've been going through some of the solo work that you, Roger and 
John did back when. I really found Empty Glass to be an enjoyable album, and 
Roger and John have some good material as well. Have you ever listened to any of 
the other's solo work, and do you find any of it particularly striking?

PT: No I don't listen to it more than once. I very much liked GIVING IT ALL AWAY 
from Roger's first solo album for Track many years back. 

Calidonna: Out of all the drummers who offered to replace Keith Moon after his 
death, why did you choose Kenny Jones?

PT: I'm not sure whom all these drummers were who you say offered to replace 
Keith. I can think of one and a half. Phil Collins offered to fill in for a 
while; I love Phil's playing but he wasn't about to leave Genesis. The drummer 
of Foreigner offered too I think, again, not permanently. 

I invited Kenney because I liked his playing. I liked his lack of drummer's ego, 
and he did not 'zone out' like many drummers do on their own adrenalin and 
over-oxygenation. He was ready to be a part of a hard touring band, and he 
brought legions of Faces and Small Faces fans with him. He understood our Mod 
tribal beginning. He was my friend and I had played with him quite a bit 
already. Roger did not object to Kenney at first, but waited until he was 
established. It was quite a shock, and awkward to handle. 

Musicians should not be directly compared or expected to fill someone else's 
shoes. It was brilliant for Queen to have Paul Rodgers to sing Freddy Mercury 
songs. It was brave and different. They could have hired some copycat singer, 
but they brought in a true great in his own right. If you want a perfect Keith 
Moon drummer today there is probably a good one playing in one of the Who 
tribute bands. For me, it was great to play with Kenney, someone so disciplined, 
after years battling to keep Keith Moon in time. At last I could relax and let 
the drummer keep time. The Kenney years were most enjoyable years of my 
performing life with the Who. It was hard playing with Moonie, and it is 
sometimes almost as hard playing with Zak when he tries to emulate Moon. Zak is 
far better than Moonie technically, although maybe less anarchic - maybe! Zak 
respects me. Moon loved me, and exalted me, but he did not seem to respect me 
when we were onstage together. Moon was a brilliant wild card, 
 and much more than drummer. But playing with Kenney was heaven after dragging 
Moon through his last, tortuous struggle to play well during the filming of THE 
KIDS ARE ALRIGHT. He almost died of exhaustion that day. 

I loved Moon the man and Moon the comedian. I wasn't crazy about Moon the 
drummer. He was great, I won't deny it, the Who would probably not have been so 
big without Moon, but I would have preferred to have worked with Kenney from the 
very beginning.

Robertlinblad: How did Greg Lake end up with THE WHO?

PT: Roger invited him. He was very affable and easy to work with, a very 
straight player. Roger had worked with him before on some solo project. He did a 

Suesjoy: I remember an article where you said Nina Simone, whom I love, had a 
profound influence on your singing style. What to you is so special about her?

PT: I started to listen to her around 1963. She was not considered to be an R&B 
performer, more a singer of standard songs, so someone who straddled the cusp 
between the music of my father's generation and my own. I met her first 
face-to-face when we both played the popular British Pop TV Show 
READY-STEADY-GO! She was dressed in an African costume, and seemed very regal, 
and had a baby on her arm. This must have been in 1965 I guess. I thought then 
that she was about fifteen years older than I was - she seemed like quite a 
distinguished and serious person. I realised soon that she considered herself a 
jazz artist, and looked down a little on the kind of lightweight pop we were 
doing at the time. I worked with her in 1989 on my solo album Iron Man. She was 
a joy, I paid her very well, and she rose to that like the great 
diva-queen-princess she really was, and bathed in my respect for her. She was 
extremely gracious. She was living in Germany then. It was the closing of a 
 e for me, and she told me I could call her "Dr. Simone" (she had an honorary 
doctorate from Julliard, I think). While in London she went to see all the big 
theatre musicals of the day because I could easily get her tickets (or my PA 

Wolfpunk: How did Meher Baba change your life? And how did your music change 
after him? 

PT: There is a very good article about this published by Rolling Stone in 1970. 
CLICK HERE for the link.

After I fell to class A drugs in 1979 I decided to stop making any public 
announcements about Meher Baba, I felt unqualified to speak about him any more. 
That was probably rather arrogant of me, and recently I have decided to confess 
that I have followed Meher Baba (or he has followed me!) faithfully through all 
the highs and lows of my life since I first heard about him from Mike McInnerny 
(artist who painted the Tommy album artwork) in 1967. 

Like everyone in the current age, I am doubtful about my faith. I know what I 
feel, and my measure has really been the quality of the close disciples who 
spent their lives around Meher Baba up till his passing in 1969. They were very, 
very high quality human beings. I'm uneasy about being around atheists and 
atheism, however logical and scientific their position might be. I prefer the 
agnostic who admits to being unsure, or knowing nothing, to those who are 
absolutely certain they and only they know the true path. And there are some 
followers of Meher Baba who can be rather evangelical, and extremely certain 
that Meher Baba is undoubtedly the Avatar (the Messiah) and they too make me 
uneasy. In my article for Rolling Stone I think I probably expressed more 
certainty than I would today.

My music changed only slightly after 1967, when I first heard about Meher Baba, 
because I began to allow myself to translate the teenager-specific struggles 
which I had chronicled up until then into spiritual struggles that could be 
faced at any time in a person's life. For example, a song like WON'T GET FOOLED 
AGAIN could be taken to be as much about being caught up in fundamental religion 
as it is about the downside of the extremes of radical or ultra conservative 
politics. I always try to leave some space in my writing, so that if I ever use 
the word 'love' I use it in a spiritual sense rather than a human sense. LET MY 
LOVE OPEN THE DOOR could be a song sung by a self-professed sex-god like Prince, 
or a recognised but self-professed spiritual leader like Jesus, Mohammed or 
Meher Baba. It could also be a song sung by President Obama as he introduces 
health care for the poor for the first time in the USA. 

A LITTLE IS ENOUGH is a song I wrote about the time my wife announced one day 
that she had stopped loving me because I had lost her trust. Adi K Irani who had 
been Meher Baba's secretary for many years said to me, 'So your wife doesn't 
love you at all any more?'. I replied that I thought she still loved me a 
little. He said (I paraphrase here), 'Love is God's system, the fuel of the 
universe itself. None of us need it all, or could use it all. Each of us needs 
only a little, a tiny amount, and through knowing how it feels to enjoy a tiny 
amount we are connected with the entire ocean of love (energy) that fuels the 

So I wrote the song, and it was as much about me and my wife, and our struggle 
to remain in love while I tried to continue to battle the problems of the music 
business as it was about God's love (or the power that holds the universe in 
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