Editor’s Note: Due to the overwhelming responses to the AN OPEN LETTER TO PETE TOWNSHEND ON THE OCCASION OF HIS 70TH BIRTHDAY – Issue: 5/20/15, we decided to send our favorites to press this week. We have not skipped the comments to previous columns. They will be given voice in coming weeks.
Bravo!!!!! Your Pete Townshend column was masterful. I too grew up with The Who and found them instantly relatable. One of the first films I ever saw on my own was The Kids Are Alright when it was part of a Midnight Madness double feature at the old Arnold Theater in Point Pleasant Beach. I still crack up at the “Roger From Oz” line.
I actually thought Pete’s best work was Empty Glass. I am glad there is digital media now because I wore out one vinyl copy and two cassette copies of that phenomenal record. I still have it on regular play, just a wonderful record.
I am glad Pete didn’t die before he got old as he shows the kids today what integrity, honesty and art are all about.
Oh and there is a band from Jersey that paid homage to Pete. The band Maybe Pete took their name from a line in the film Almost Famous. “No one can describe rock and roll…well…maybe Pete Townshend.” Maybe Pete and they were great.
Again, congrats on another wonderful piece.
Great, great, letter!!! What you said applies to me to the tee. Born Nov. 1960, as kids in the ’60s, we would mimic a rock band (didn’t know who they were) but we would set up a drum kit made of wig boxes, a laundry basket on its side as a bass drum, small cans as drums, anything we could hit. My dad was a drummer so we had sticks and old cymbals. We had brooms and tennis rackets as guitars and after our fake set, we would smash it all up. I would find out later that this band we knew did this was The Who. I would follow your letter pretty much the same. “Young Man Blues” was, by far, my favorite Who song for the longest time after discovering Live At Leeds (I have three different versions of LAL, plus the vinyl—with the crackles). The Kids Are Alright movie changed my life. It transformed me from a fan, to the highest level fan. Quadrophenia is my favorite album/CD of all time. Nothing better as far as the musicianship. In 1979, I remember driving 50 miles to a record store that had the discontinued Odds & Sods after calling every record store to find it. I saw the ‘79 tour at the Spectrum after the Cincinnati tragedy, which was my first time (regret not being able to see Moon-my favorite musician-Zak is a godsend!!). In ’82, I, too, was at JFK and followed the tour to Shea where my ‘73 Camaro caught on fire on the NJ Turnpike on the ride back. I was so moved by Pete’s book that I wrote him a letter. He wrote me back. A postcard thanking me, which is framed and sitting on a shelf. I’ve seen every tour since that ’79. I am about to see the band in AC for the 19th time (5th in AC). I also plan on seeing them on 11/4, which will be two days before my birthday. So thanks again for the letter. Just makes me realize that we, like “the millions,” are all the same…
I loved your letter to Pete Townshend. Thank you for illuminating what many of us feel yet are unable to enunciate.
—Crystal Honeycutt Hobbs
A great piece and a wonderful tribute to a very talented individual. Happy Birthday Pete Townshend!
Pete and The Who are important influences in my life. I was thrilled to meet Pete when TOMMY was on Broadway. The sweetest man! I’m thrilled he’s still rockin’ on!!
It’s clear that you don’t think TOMMY (the movie) is a horrible thing. It’s not. It’s some kind of brilliant! I think you think so too…based on what followed “horrible thing.”
Well said, young man.
—Trish Anne Pottermith
I have an older brother whose name is Pete Townshend.
For the record, I do have an “on paper” half brother. The day my father married my soon-to-be mother, he was 14 years old. I came along three years later, two years after the brains and guts of our family (my sister) was born. If you look at the logistics and take a moment to do the math, you will understand that, growing up, I really didn’t have a “real” brother.
After all what is a brother?
Someone who has been to the emotional places you are destined to travel to.
Someone to remind you that, like him, you are nothing.
A clown desperate to bend his back and sell his soul to a breeze.
Someone who sees you as the naked farce you are, but at the same time is there with you to say, “Yes! If you bash your fist against this wall as hard as you can…”
Someone to poetically cry with you in sorrow, joy and anger.
A narcissist unequaled to any, save yourself.
Oh the perils of youth (and it would appear middle age).
An older vinyl, live-in-my-room (and in my heart) friend. Willing to lend his voice and share his soul with me as we trip violently over the hurdles life tosses before us.
Stumbling and falling.
Then standing again.
Always a step ahead of me in time.
Always standing me up when I fall.
The helpless dancer in him…
My “real” brother.
Happy 70th brother.
Thanks for the nod to Pete, James. I’m in Oregon now and my Former-Upstate-Pete- Townshend-Loving-Jackass friend of my youth, Jeremy, resides in Arizona. Not a May 19th goes by without a beer and vodka (no Remy Martin) accented, Pete-based conversation between the two of us (complete with blaring tunes from the maestro himself in the background).