Alongside bands like The Beatles, The Kinks and Rolling Stones, The Who were one of the most influential groups that were formed in the United Kingdom in the 60s. Led by the band’s main songwriter, guitarist and sometimes singer Pete Townshend, they are one of the best-selling bands of all time. With 12 studio albums released since 1965, they have sold an estimated amount of more than 100 million records worldwide.
Over the decades Townshend had been labeled more as a rhythm guitar, since there are no big guitar solos on the band’s discography. However, the musician already featured solos especially on his solo career and he revealed once which are his own guitar solos that are his favorites.
The 2 guitar solos Pete Townshend once picked as his favorites
“My Baby Gives It Away”
A prolific songwriter, Pete Townshend started his solo career in 1972 and continued to release records with The Who in the following decades. In an interview with Sound International magazine in 1980, when he already had three solo albums out, he revealed that his own favorite guitar solos were from his solo career. “My own favorite solo is on ‘My Baby Gives It Away’,” Townshend said.
The track was featured on the praised 1977 album “Rough Mix” made alongside the Faces and Small Faces bassist Ronnie Lane. Although the album was made by both of them, the track mentioned by Townshend was written only by him.
But there was another special guest on that song, since besides Townshend and Lane, they had The Rolling Stones member Charlie Watts playing the drums. In his autobiography “Who I Am” released in 2012, Townshend recalled the feeling of recording with Watts. “Playing with Charlie Watts on ‘My Baby Gives It Away’ was also very cool. (It was) making me aware that this jazz-influenced style was essential to the Stones’ success. The hi-hat always trailing the beat a little to create that vital swing,” Pete Townshend said.
The guitarist told KMET radio in 1977 that the song wouldn’t be a good Who track. The reason was because it has a shuffle rhythm, something they would never do.
By the time the record was released it peaked at number 44 on the United Kingdom chart. Also had moderated success in the United States, reaching number 45 on the Billboard 200.
“Heart To Hang On To”
The other guitar solo that Pete Townshend said was one of his favorites is in the track “Heart To Hang On To”. It is another song also featured on the 1977 album “Rough Mix”. “I also like the one on the Rough Mix album on ‘Heart To Hang On To’. Because it was just an off the wall thing. I’m starting to play better now and so I should because I’ve been playing a long time,” Pete Townshend said.
The track was also written solely by him and had a special guest which was his bandmate John Entwistle. But curiously, the bassist played played horns in the songs. The recording also had John “Rabbit” Bundrick playing the organ, Boz Burrell on bass and Henry Spinetti on drums.
At the Ronnie Lane memorial concert in 2004, Pete Townshend revealed that this song was actually about the late bassist. He said: “This song is really about Ronnie. I didn’t tell him it was about him when we recorded it. But he sang on it. It’s called ‘Heart To Hang Onto’.”
The memorial concert happened at the Royal Albert Hall and Townshend performed the tracks “Evolution” and “Heart To Hang On To” that night.
Townshend also said that it became one of the most special songs he has on his discography. He often says he doesn’t understand how The Who rejected the track. Ronnie Lane passed away at the age of 51 in 1997. He was a victim of Pneumonia during the final stages of multiple sclerosis.