The Who’s ‘Lifehouse’ is finally being released – as a graphic novel

"'Lifehouse' always had a strong and important visual story that was never even touched on"

The Who’s shelved project, ‘Lifehouse’, is to be made into a graphic novel more than four decades after the ambitious rock opera was intended to be released.

Guitarist and vocalist Pete Townshend wrote the opera as a follow-up to the band’s 1969 album ‘Tommy’, which was later adapted for stage and screen. But ‘Lifehouse’ was abandoned in favour of the group’s 1971 record, ‘Who’s Next’.

Townshend shared ‘Lifehouse’ for a BBC radio drama in 1999 as well as The Lifehouse Chronicles box set a year later. Now, he’s releasing it as a graphic novel in partnership with Heavy Metal magazine. The 150-page graphic novel, due to hit shelves in July 2020, is to be written and illustrated by James Harvey who will adapt the story straight from Townshend’s original screenplay and music.

Pete Townshend

The Who’s Pete Townshend

In a statement, Townshend said: “A graphic novel based on my very first 1970 concept for The Who’s abandoned Lifehouse project is perhaps the most exciting creative development in my long career.

“Lifehouse always had a strong and important visual story that was never even touched on.

“Even by 1971, when Lifehouse was written, it had to be treated as a film script, which was entirely beyond my skill set, and beyond the financial scope of The Who,” Townshend continued. “If I had completed my art studies, instead of staying with The Who, I might have made my own graphic novels. I am excited then, with huge anticipation, that at last Lifehouse can be realised visually, and as a story – part science fiction, part spiritual allegory.”

Elsewhere, last month Townshend announced the release of his debut novel, The Age Of Anxiety.

His latest work is set for publication on November 5, 2019. Publisher Mark Booth describes it as “a great rock novel” that “captures the craziness of the music business” through a “cultured, witty, and unreliable” narrator.

In other news, The Who play London’s Wembley Stadium on July 6 with support from Kaiser Chiefs and Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder.