Pete Townshend: ‘Johnny Rotten was my first choice for Quadrophenia’

The role of Jimmy was eventually played by Phil Daniels

Pete Townshend of The Who has revealed that Sex Pistols man Johnny Rotten was his first choice to play the lead role of Jimmy in the 1979 film Quadrophenia.

Based on the band’s 1973 album, the film – which was directed by Franc Roddam – saw Phil Daniels take the part of the troubled mod, but Townshend has explained that Rotten was his original first pick. Townshend said:

I knew him as he’d been using my studio in Soho, what a fucking diamond, and so smart but unfortunately we went out with the director… Johnny Rotten liked to drink and so did I, and we went out and got pissed and 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.

He continued: “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.”


Townshend made the comments to at the Prince’s Trust Rock Gala. The guitarist also talked about the current state of the British economy, saying: “When ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ was written there were three million unemployed in Britain, there are 2.4 million now but 40% of those are young people. So one million young people unemployed now – it’s not a good place to be.”

The Director’s Cut deluxe edition of ‘Quadrophenia’ was released via Universal Music Catalogue earlier this month.

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