The Who’s Pete Townshend says past rock ‘n’ roll antics were “a waste of time”

"What a fucking prat"

Pete Townshend has spoken about his regrettable “rock and roll” antics.

The Who guitarist and singer, who used to smash up his instruments on stage, said such behaviour was “a waste of time” despite it helping to get people to listen to his band.

Pete Townshend
The Who’s Pete Townshend


The 74-year-old musician told The Big Issue magazine: “I was always pretty snobby about rock and roll.”

He addressed an infamous incident in which the band’s late drummer, Keith Moon, chucked a TV through a hotel window. “As the television went through the window, I would look at Keith Moon and go, ‘what a fucking prat. What a waste of time’.

“Then, two or three times I did the same thing and I would think, ‘what a fucking prat’.”

Townshend conceded, however, that it caught music fans’ attention. As a former arts student, he said that he was “in it for the art”.

“Getting into auto-destruction was straight out of art college. People still say that I should never have smashed instruments,” he said, before concluding: “Fuck off. It is how I got you to listen to me.”

Credit: Colin Jones / Topfoto


Elsewhere in the interview Townshend said that his generation of “the hippy era” of the ’60s “misused the power” for social change.

“My generation felt disenfranchised,” he said. “That is a complex word for feeling like we had nothing to live for. It made us not so much angry as loose.

“We were loose-living. And when psychedelic drugs and more importantly the pill came along, away we went.

“Then we took power. But I think we misused the power to a great extent. The hippy era could have turned into something much better than it did.”

In other news, The Who’s rock opera Tommy will return to Broadway in 2021 – more than 25 years since its original run.

The new version of Tommy will be directed by Des McAnuff, who also helmed the original 1993-1995 production, Rolling Stone reports. In a press release, McAnuff described the new Tommy as “a reinvention aimed directly at today”.

The group also recently announced details of their first new album in 13 years, called ‘Who’. It’s released on November 22 and is said to cover subjects including “the Grenfell Tower fire, musical theft, spirituality, reincarnation, the power of memory and ‘an old rock star that has lost his marbles’.”