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Pete Townshend’s opinion on Prince

Pete Townshend


Pete Townshend’s opinion on Prince

Pete Townshend is The Who‘s co-founder, guitarist, main songwriter and sometimes singer. He is a crucial part of the music the band made during the past six decades and obviously is now part of Rock and Roll history for his contribution. But besides being one of the most talented musicians of all time, Townshend is also known for being quite sincere when talking about his peers.


So he has no problem in sharing his real feelings about a band or artist, whether he likes their music or not. Over the decades he talked about many musicians, including the late legendary American singer and multi-instrumentalist Prince.

What is Pete Townshend’s opinion on Prince

An interesting thing about Prince is although he was a Pop star and had millions of fans, he was also a respected songwriter and instrumentalist, something that is rare usually when it comes to pop music. There is a big number of pop artists who are quite sucessful but not really respected when it comes to songwriting and playing. But Prince is one of the few who were able to be praised by critics, musicians and the audience. So of course, Pete Townshend also loved his work and praised him many times.

One of the biggest examples of that is the message Pete shared in 2016 after Prince’ sudden death at the age of 57. He said: “Goodbye sweet Prince. Pure, certified genius at the highest level. Too soon.”

But much before that, Townshend had already praised the artist. He said in an interview with Guitarist magazine in 1990, that Prince could really do everything. He was asked by the magazine about the use of computers in music back in the early 90s. Then he used Prince as an example of someone who maybe didn’t need this technology because he would do himself.

“Computers have since helped me a lot there. It’s a bit like having always suffered from hay fever and then finding that your computer will analyze the pollen count. Analysis is a lost art, and to replace it with intuition is asking too much of intuition. Intuitive players and composers should have all their armory before they start relying on intuition. That’s when they’ll make quantum jumps.”

He continued:

“Look at somebody like Prince. He has that armory. He can write an orchestral score, sit at a piano and read a part, knock out a fairly good version of the Moonlight Sonata or study Gershwin if he likes. Then you’ve got this impetuous, imp-like character grafting all this intuitive waif-like feel. You come up with that kind of magical quality,” Pete Townshend said.

Pete Townshend watched Prince’s “Purple Rain” alongside Eric Clapton

In 1984 the groundbreaking movie “Purple Rain”, which was scored and starred by Prince, was released. With many successful tracks, the praised movie cost about 7 million dollars. It made more than 70 million dollars at the box-office.

In his autobiography “Who I Am“, released in 2012, Pete Townshend recalled that he first went to see that movie alongside his friend and guitarist Eric Clapton.

“A few months earlier Eric Clapton and I attended a screening of Prince’s film ‘Purple Rain’. I was inspired by the way Prince had folded autobiographical references so elegantly into his film. I decided to create a film of my own, combining street scenes from a London district north of Shepherds Bush and music sequences.”

He continued:

“Walter Donahue, an editor at Faber working on the film list, recommended that we also screen a film called Strikebound. (It was) directed by a young Australian called Richard Lowenstein, whom I would eventually approach to direct my next project, White City.”

“(…) I wanted White City to be entertaining and colorful as well as real. Although ‘Purple Rain’ indicated how that might be achieved it offered no clear blueprint. Prince, as an artist, was deliberately romantic and distant. He offered a pathway to his inner self only through his music,” Pete Townshend said.

Prince started his career in 1975 and the end happened with his sudden death in 2016. He released 40 studio albums, almost four times more than The Who. But when it came to records sold, both sold an estimated amount of more than 100 million records worldwide.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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