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The punk album Pete Townshend said it was his favorite in the 70s

Pete Townshend


The punk album Pete Townshend said it was his favorite in the 70s

The Who‘s co-founder, guitarist, main songwriter and sometimes singer Pete Townshend is one of the most influential musicians of all time and always tried to experiment and embrace new kinds of music. One of them was Punk Rock that took shape in the mid-70s and shooked the whole music business during those years, changing the focus of the industry.


Over the decades, Townshend talked a lot about Punk and in the 70s he even revealed which was his favorite album of the genre.

The punk album that Pete Townshend said it was his favorite in the 70s

By the late 70s, The Who already was on the road for more than a decade and had released most part of their classic albums like “The Who Sell Out” (1967), “Tommy” (1969), “Who’s Next” (1971) and “Quadrophenia” (1973).

During that decade there were many changes in Rock and Roll music, especially with the evolution of Hard Rock, Heavy Metal and Progressive Rock. Townshend was aware of all that, but also observed the Punk movement, especially in the United Kingdom.

In an 1979 radio interview (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), Pete Townshend talked about how in his opinion The Rolling Stones were the first “punks” and also about the birth of the style, revealing which was his favorite album of that period.

“The Stones really affected me very, very deeply, their wildness on the stage, the fact that they didn’t wear uniforms. This kinda of thing was very just outrageous, you know. Jagger’s stage performance and Keith Richards stage performance, which is just very, very wild and unkempt. They were the first, I think the closest to sort of a latter-day punk image. But I don’t know, you know, how many American kids really know what happened in London with the Punk bands.”

He continued:

“I mean it was unbelievable. It was absolutely unbelievable.” The guitarist continued saying that the Punk Rock concerts in Britain were absolutely crazy: “What I’m saying really is to actually compare a band with any stage of their career to what the Punks were doing is impossible, really.”

“Because the Punks were just a really total anarchy, the audience and the bands. Was a completely anarchistic, not destructive, just completely outrageously free and of course The Who’s music was never like that.”

“We used to break up a few instruments now and again. We used to play, I mean, particularly Keith’s (Moon) was very loose and loud. My style was very heavy. But there were a lot of bands playing that kind of music at the times.”

“The early Kinks were pretty raucous outfit. And the band that Eric (Clapton) used to play with, The Yardbirds, they were pretty outrageous outfit as well, sound-wise.”

Pete Townshend continued and revealed which was his favorite Punk album:

“My favorite album of the period (of Punk) was the Sex Pistols album, which was produced by Chris Thomas, ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ (1977). “I think ‘Pretty Vacant’, that track ‘we’re so pretty…we’re so pretty, vacant…’, I think is like a modern ‘My Generation’ (The Who song), really.”

“It’s not as obvious as ‘My Generation’. But it’s the same kind of thing. But the amazing thing was that the concerts were so hectic, so violen. The early, particularly in the first six months of the thing, when bands like The Clash, The Vibrators and Sex Pistols. I mean The Sex Pistols couldn’t actually play in public, was that bad, they had to play unannouced concerts.”

“Consequently there is very, very few people who ever saw them appear. I never saw them appear. But I saw several other bands. I used to go to clubs and stand and get insulted. Just stand there and just endure these snotty little kids saying ‘boring old fart!’ (laughs),” Pete Townshend said.

Curiously, the Sex Pistols had recorded a cover of The Who’s classic song “Substitute” in 1976 that it was not formally released until 1979 as part of the soundtrack of “The Great Rock N’ Roll Swindle”

Pete Townshend said that The Sex Pistols were the most significant Punk band from England

Pete Townshend praised The Sex Pisotls many times over the years in a conversation with Time back in 1995 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) he recalled once more that he had embraced Punk music at the time. Also said that they the band’s drummer Paul Cook and guitarist Steve Jones were really good players.

“Three extraordinary artists like The Sex Pistols, The Clash and Elvis Costello under the banner of Punk is really an indication of how categories fail, miserably to attend to. What was actually happening at the time was the need for another tidal wave. I suppose that everybody wanted one band to do it like it happened to The Beatles. It turned out not to be one band but a lot of bands.”

He continued:

“The Sex Pistols were obviously the most significant because they were the first and becase (Malcolm) McLaren was organizing them and allowing their anarchy. He gave them the space to play, the space to be anarchic. But also because I think, Paul Cook and Steve Jones in the band are great Rock and Roll players.”

“They say they couldn’t play but they actually could play very, very well. John Lydon is a fucking star! You know, he is a star! He is just one of the world stars. You see him and you know: ‘He is going to be famous,’” Pete Townshend said.

He said The Sex Pistols used to make uncomfortable music

Talking with Rolling Stone back in 1980, the musician had also praised The Sex Pistols and explained that they’ve made uncomfortable music, because they were telling the truth in their lyrics.

“When you listen to the Sex Pistols, to “Anarchy in the U.K.” and “Bodies” and tracks like that, what immediately strikes you is that this is actually happening. This is a bloke, with a brain on his shoulders, who is actually saying something he sincerely believes is happening in the world. Saying it with real venom, and real passion.”

“It touches you, and it scares you. It makes you feel uncomfortable. It’s like somebody saying, ‘The Germans are coming! And there’s no way we’re gonna stop ’em!’ That’s one of the reasons: a lot of new music is harder to listen to,” Pete Townshend said.

John Lydon’s was Pete Townshend’s first choice for the movie “Quadrophenia”

In 1973 The Who released their acclaimed Rock Opera “Quadrophenia” and five years later, in 1979 a movie adaptation was made directed by Franc Roddam. Being starred by actor Phil Daniels. But curiously, as Pete Townshend revealed to Music News back in 2011, his first choice for that role was The Sex Pistols vocalist John Lydon.

“I knew him as he’d been using my studio in Soho, what a fucking diamond. So smart but unfortunately we went out with the director. Johnny Rotten liked to drink and so did I. We went out and got pissed. I drove my car the wrong way around a roundabout. We went to Camden Palais together and I got stopped by the police and they hauled us out.”

“Anyway I think he decided not to do it. I don’t think it was us, I really wanted him. I don’t know how good he would have been. But he’s very, very intense. He could have been good,” Pete Townshend said.

The movie became a cult-classic since it’s release. Two years before, in 1975 the band had already released “Tommy”, that was inspired on the album released in 1969.

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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