Pete Townshend

It’s Pete Townshend’s birthday today, so I’d like to know your favourite tracks from his mightily impressive list of songwriting and production credits.

Concert memories and memorable television appearances would be nice, too.

Who can forget David performing ‘Quadrophenia’ with The Who at Hyde Park back in 1996? That was a career high for David, having always been a fan of the band.

There have been a few other collaborations as well, which I leave to you to recall.

If all that thinking and mental whittling doesn’t make your head ache, to follow on from the previous post on the use of popular music in commercials, how about its use in video games? This one featured in ‘Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’.

The chatroom, by the way, opens today at 13:00 (UK).

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

83 thoughts on “Pete Townshend”

  1. Thanks for sharing this clip. Really enjoyed it. Some people forget, but not everybody!


  2. Hello All,

    Townshend admirers must see the opera Quadrophenia that has just started a national tour.

    Pete was overall director so very much his concept. Young bright cast, good house band, very modern piece of theatre. Even going to Wales!

    No dialogue, everything is left to his lyrics and the acting to move the plot along. Still stands up as a thought provoking work about teenage angst.

    Also, like all great work it is not easily understood! And leaves you still thinking.

    Gifted man.


  3. hey fed, just watched this – never knew he had played with the who.

    jesus and gary glitter… 😮

    1. Thanks for the link, Rob… if I recall correctly, Daltrey’s eyepatch wasn’t just for show. I think he hit himself in the eye during rehearsals doing one of his trademark microphone swings.

  4. A true musical genius. I’m just waiting for the chance to see Pete or The Who again.

    If people only knew half of their contributions to modern music they would all be Knighted. Even though I’m not from the UK, I’m hoping he becomes Sir Pete!

  5. Thanks for sharing the clip. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “Who Are You” are the best tracks ever!!


  6. Happy birthday Pete! Love your work.

    Best tracks for me are Who Are You and Pinball Wizard. The Deep End version of Pinball Wizard at Brixton, with David supporting, is class.

  7. My generation, baby (well, almost). 😉

    I saw The Who in concert at university, many moons ago. The sheer energy of their music just knocks you sideways.

    Probably I Can See For Miles and Won’t Get Fooled Again are standout tracks for me — I recall seeing Pete demonstrating on a TV documentary how he’d composed that unforgettable intro to WGFA.

    Wish I had seen the Hyde Park gig with David. And Happy Birthday to Pete!

  8. Best Who line, “I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth”.

    Saw them many years ago at Oval Cricket Ground where Keith Moon played drums with cricket bast of course. Prefer the band as a whole rather than individuals though.


    1. And a great show to see them at, as well! Most fans who attended agree that this was perhaps their greatest moment during the Who’s Next tour of 1971.

    2. Totally awesome gig and although I’m living in Oz these days that concert will remain with me for a very long time with America mid afternoon, Rod and finally the Who. It was definitely up there with the Isle of Wight festival in 1970.

    1. Absolutely… but I’d also throw in there The Who Sell Out. Absolutely the most under-rated album of the Who’s cannon, bar none!


  9. Thanks for posting this video. I like the song and Pete looks so cool.

    My favourite Townshend solo song is English Boy.

  10. “Eminence Front” is an amazing song, and I actually have to thank Grand Theft Auto for opening my ears to it. All of the music on that in-game radio station is amazing, and I’ve actually ended up buying whole albums on the strength of individual songs on it.

    Other great tracks on that GTA: SA radio station (I think it was called K-DST) include:

    -“Somebody Up There Loves Me” by David Bowie – I ended up buying the “Young Americans” album
    -“Horse With No Name” by America
    -“Young Turks” by Rod Stewart (the only song of his I’ll ever admit to liking…)
    -“Hold The Line” by Toto
    -“Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
    -“Green River” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

    I just realised I could probably name the whole playlist, so I’ll stop. I will say though, that the new Grand Theft Auto game’s soundtrack is pretty disappointing. There are some good songs, but overall they don’t seem to add much to the in-game experience, unlike it’s predecessors.

    There’s a Who one on there as well, getting back to the original topic; “The Seeker”. And what a great song that is.

    I’ve never seen the band live, but I’d love to. My dad saw them in the 70s at Ibrox/Hampden/Celtic Park I’m not sure, but he was disappointed because he was so far away.

    Still, they’re on my “must-see” list, so hopefully one day.

    “Love Reign O’er Me”, “Baba O’Reilly” and “Substitute” are probably my favourite Townshend songs. The man really does have an extraordinary talent for writing good rock songs. 🙂

    1. I enjoyed the soundtrack to the one before it, too (‘Vice City’, wasn’t it?): ‘Atomic’, ‘Billie Jean’, ‘More Than This’, ‘Wow’, ‘Kids in America’, ‘Cars’…

      Funny you should mention ‘Horse With No Name’, as I was compiling a list of Seventies singles for a future blog post this morning and, in attempting to whittle my selections down to ten (which I haven’t yet managed, but I have at least reduced it to 18), I decided that I had to keep this one on there.

    2. Yeah, Vice City had a brilliant soundtrack too! I just thought I’d avoid mentioning it, due to the cheesiness of it all. 😀

      I guess we should take that as advance warning of a 70s list then?! Haha! Better get started…

  11. There are too many great Who songs for me to try to pick a favourite because it’s almost always changing, all I can say is that at the minute I seem to be listening to ‘Heaven and Hell’ a lot.

    In my opinion The Who are the only band which come close to matching Pink Floyd. There’s the old ‘Who vs Zepp’ but i think ‘Floyd vs Who’ is a much better question to ask someone. They had different sounds, but both have made some of the best music around.

    As for music in games, its usually a good thing, but it depends on whether I like the music or not. Grand Theft Auto usually has at least a few decent tracks on it, including The Who, but other games are full of music by people I’ve never even heard of.

    I suppose Rock Band and Guitar Hero are the most well known music games, but even with those I sometimes struggle to find music on there I like. If I ever get Rock Band at least there are quite a few Who tracks on there.

    I’m not sure what it would be like hearing Pink Floyd in games, but it would be funny if something like ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ was on Rock Band, if only to watch the drummer sitting around with nothing to do for a few minutes.

  12. I am a bit pissed off to tell you the truth Fed.

    I was a big who fan and I as I put earlier I love Roger D. But are you not being blinkered here about Pete Townshend, rock icon or not he was caught looking at paedophile material. No excuses I would say.

    I am really quite upset you have made this day special in his name and I’m quite shocked you have done so.


    1. With the greatest respect, it wasn’t Roger Daltrey’s birthday.

      Personally, I consider all four founding members of The Who incredibly talented and am certainly not blinkered. It’s simply that, being Pete’s birthday, it seemed appropriate to talk about his music – not just the music he helped create with The Who, but his many collaborations with David and other connected musicians.

      I don’t care to know, less still judge, every detail of his private life. He was, and always will be, a highly influential guitarist and a lyricist of the finest calibre, regardless of any media frenzy (which, I thought, revealed much more about society’s desperate need to condemn than it did about Pete Townshend’s assumed depravity).

      If we put half as much time and energy into dealing with the vicious cycle of child exploitation as we do the routine witch hunt, the world would be a safer place.

    2. Many wonderful artists have also done horrid things. There is room to admire the art, even of you dislike some of what the artist has done. Do we shun the artistry of Van Gough because he committed self-mutilation (cut his ear off) and eventually committed suicide? Do we avoid reading the strange, but fine, writing of William S. Burroughs because he killed a woman?

      I think we have to go to intent here. Did F’Ed post this about Townshend as a way to promote child porn? Of course not. F’Ed is celebrating the work of an artist. So, why get angry with F’Ed for posting this about Townshend?

  13. Happy B’day, Towser!

    I’ve many great memories of this man and his band (Who). So, without further ado…

    1) Favorite tracks: Naked Eye, Won’t Get Fooled Again, Sleeping Dog
    2) Favorite moments: I’ve met the man 3 times, the 2nd time being the funniest.

    July 31, 1997 – just after a stellar performance of Quadrophenia at Greatwoods (Mansfield, Mass), I was backstage with Simon Townshend and his family, and some friends. Pete was immediately overwhelmed by females shoving gifts into his arms. Oddest gift- bath bombs. Once the female fans left, and looking silly with his arms full of gifts, I looked and smiled stating, “Hey Pete, I’d shake your hands but you seem to be juggling some balls.” Pete and I laughed, me out of embarrassment!

    September 26, 1982 – during the guitar break in Love Reign O’er Me, the sky opened up and started to rain. I get goosebumps just thinking about that moment.

    August 9, 1993 – during the performance of Psychoderelict the slide/projector screens were breaking down. Townshend saw this, stormed backstage, and went berserk yelling at the crew. Immediately he came back out to the front of the stage, strapped on a blond Telecaster and commanded the audiences attention with a blistering version of Magic Bus full of vitriol and aggression. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Pete play as possessed since!

    3) Favorite TV moments: TOTP, 1973 and Rockestra w/Gilmour.

    1. Thanks Darren, cracking TOTP performance, I would love to know who followed them, Donny Osmond perhaps?

      I do remember their performance being much discussed next day at school.

  14. My favourite one is ‘Behind Blue Eyes’. I far prefer the Who’s version to the numerous covers such as those by Limp Biskit or Sheryl Crow. Of course.

    I think that David took part in a Pete Townshend concert in Cannes, France (Gala du Midem) in 1986 where he sang ‘Love On The Air’. ‘Love On The Air’ is on ‘About Face’ and the lyrics were written by Pete Townshend, I think.


  15. I’ve always loved The Who, and Townshend’s solo works as well. Picking a favorite track is almost as impossible as picking a favorite Floyd track. I suppose I’ll just put on “Deep End Live” and ponder…

    Happy Birthday, Pete!

  16. Hullo FED and All!!!!!

    First off, I just have to say, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PETE!!!”. When I think of Townsend and Gilmour I have to no doubt think of their collaborative work together on ‘About Face’. ‘All Lovers Are Deranged’ and ‘Love On The Air’ are two of my favorites from ‘AF’.

    When it comes to Pete and The Who respectively, my favorites are:

    1. Amazing Journey/Sparks
    2. Rough Boys
    3. Who Are You?
    4. Love Reign O’er Me
    5. Behind Blue Eyes
    6. Baba O’Reilly
    7. Substitute
    8. Eminence Front
    9. White City
    10. All of Who’s Next

    Anyway, it has been a while, hasn’t it been? Hope everyone is well. Dagnabbit, I missed today’s chat. Fed, as always, Hope you are doing well.

    Everybody else that I have missed, I miss you all. You know who you are!! And if it could be made known, please extend my regards to David and Polly!

    Peace, Love & Light!! Cazart!

  17. A musical genius of the highest order, a most youthful 64 year old.

    Quadrophenia is my favourite Who studio album: stand out tracks are 5.15 and Love Reign O’er Me and packaging to match.

    I remember a lot of my friends wearing fish-tail parkas at the time, with The Who ♂ painted on the back, even though we were too young to have been 60s Mods. They were the ultimate fans’ band and in Townshend they had a lyricist who could articulate the feelings and angst of young men in a way that the average person could not. T

    he Who reached their zenith in 1973, managing in the space of a few months to release three great non-album tracks, Lets See Action, Join Together and Relay prior to the 5.15 single (didn’t they get banned from TOTP following an over-zealous performance of it?) and Quadrophenia LP.

    My memories of Hyde Park are that it was a cold and cloudy and one of those old parkas would have been more suitable than my denim jacket. The lineup included Jools Holland, Clapton and Dylan. I remember Roger wearing a target eye-patch as a result of being hit in the face by a microphone being flayed in rehearsals by one Gary Glitter. Queue up here to return the compliment.

    1. Hey Jeremy,

      Check out my post above for the video of the band ripping through a partially mimed/partial live version of that exact performance of 5:15. As legend has it, the reason Pete can be seen yelling at the studio producers and engineers just before he takes the first vocals, and why he decides to pummel his Gretsch guitar (a gift from Joe Walsh!) and the amps, is because of the BBC ban on performing the track live on TOTP. Pete wanted to play live and obviously let his feelings show at the end of the song.

      It wouldn’t be until 1981 and the release of Face Dances that the Who were allowed to come back on the show (at that time, to perform You Better You Bet).

      Go check it out!

  18. I have seen the ‘Orrible ‘Oo a couple of times in the last couple of years and Pete and Roger still have it. As a fan, you feel part of the show and whilst they may not scale the peaks of their 60s and 70s concerts, I can’t think of a group currently performing who I would rather watch.

    Took my 7 year old son to one of their concerts as part of his musical education and because I am concerned that he won’t get a chance to see their type in the future (think Live8, apart from The Floyd and The ‘Oo, who was there of note?). Pete remains the most visually impressive and exciting guitarist; it’s hard to take your eyes off him and one leap or windmill is more than worth two hours of prancing and posing from a lesser contemporary. What he may lack in technical ability (although it’s better than most and is never dull or self-indulgent) he makes up for in passion; he and Roger care about what they do best, and they care about their fans and what they want to see, feel and hear.

    Amongst my videos there is a live recording entitled Deep End where an acoustic playing Pete is aided by a more fluid playing guitar force. At times Pete looks like he wants to hit a power chord, but chooses not to.

  19. Fed,

    My favorite Who songs are Eminence Front and Love Reign o’er Me. I like a ton of others but those 2 are the ones that I crank up the radio every time to.

    I love Give Blood at Brixton very much… a plump DG playing that cool little guitar break in the middle and the delay-drenched main riff is fantastic.

    I have to say though that DG playing Quadrophenia in ’96 was not always that great. He seemed ‘lost’ in Love Reign o’er Me, as if he didn’t know it. We have all been there on stage but that one always gives me a chuckle… he finally proved mortality. The suspenders were a little strange as well but as I said, it is definitely worth checking out just to see ‘THE MAN” flub some notes.

    Blake in Nashville

  20. I like the Who and Eminence Front is my favorite song of theirs. Pinball Wizard is a good song too, I remember that always being on the radio growing up.

    I like the new layout of the home page. It’s well organized as you can see at-a-glance more than just the very latest news, along with the chillin’ wireman and video player. A scroll bar to see the condensed year’s worth of news on the home page would be cool too.

    Take Care. CT

  21. I’d love to hear David do 5:15. But to be honest there’s one piece I’d want him to do even more than any song in the cosmos–whether it’s by Pete Townshend or anyone else.

    I’ve been reading up about the unfinished 1967 Pink Floyd/Syd song “She was a Millionaire.” People who heard it said it would have been a smash #1 hit for the early Floyd. But that it “got away.” It’s supposed to be very jaunty and a lot of fun. The Floyd never finished it, but there is a solo version by Syd recorded in 1970 in the EMI vaults. My dream is that Dave gets permission from Syd’s sister to “finish” it (be it instrumentally or with additional lyrics) and that he adds some vocals to Syd’s tracks and offers it as a coda on his next solo album. Just like “Bike” ended the Echo’s anthology. It would be his duet with Syd. My guess is that David would have a blast finishing the song. Paul is apparently working on finishing a song fragment John recorded–so why shouldn’t Dave finish up a lost number one song by Syd?

    I’d die and go to heaven if he did this on his next solo album. I’ve always loved the thought of them, young and of limited means, busking through the south of France together before they got rich and famous. 😀

  22. Here’s what Wikepedia says about the song (even just the title of the song makes me smile — and as for that second line, it’s hilarious):

    “She Was A Millionaire” is a Syd Barrett song, originally planned a possible follow-up single to See Emily Play, and announced as such in July 1967. It is described as one of Syd’s best songs by those who remember it [who?]. The song is in 3/4 time, and its opening lines were “She Was A Millionaire/She Had Some Time To Spare”. It was never completed by Pink Floyd, and the master tapes for the song no longer exist, however elements from the song would later become part of Syd’s solo song “Opel”, and “She Was A Millionaire” would be attempted by Syd again during the sessions for the Barrett album in 1970. But once again the song wasn’t completed in a releasable form, although this version still exists in EMI’s tape archive.

  23. Thanks for the video.

    I love The Who, especially Tommy and Quadrophenia.

    As for their concerts, the Woodstock one is my favourite but I liked them at Live8, too.

    I recently read an interview to Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam in which he said he really loves The Who and he feels a big admiration for Pete Townshend.

    Have you ever seen this?

    I liked to see them on the same stage.

  24. I say bring back “Deep End”, that could’ve been so good if they’d have kept it up. A proper Gilmour/Townshend partnership. 8)

  25. I actually have to thank Grand Theft Auto for opening my ears to it. All of the music on that in-game radio station is amazing, and I’ve actually ended up buying whole albums on the strength of individual songs on it.

    Break on Through by The Doors is on Tony Hawk’s Underground Two.

  26. Hi,

    a very happy birthday to Pete and other friends of the Who band.

    I was, two years ago, at the wonderful HAPPENING (what a lot of rain!) at the Arena of Verona… farewell to the voice of Roger and welcome to OUR giant Pete!

    I know… he’s really wonderful, he was also one of the first band front men able to manage DIRECTLY a blog with dreams, impressions and a new tale… he was one the first in a lot of things.

    Pete is David’s friend and shared with him a lot of memories, of sound tracks, pains and years.

    Stay with us boys, don’t leave us – please – and rock on.

    With all my heart

    1. Ahhh yes! Pete championed that form of blog and website (the wonderful, yet sadly defunct, site). On this site you would get often daily posts by Pete regarding his work, or what he was feeling, thinking, reading, watching at the moment. If that wasn’t enough he would also post FREE demos in wav and mp3 format on line. While on tour with the Who he would find time to have someone (usually the amazing Matt Kent) video tape backstage antics, onstage pyrotechnics, and all other stuff to share with the fans. I believe it was also on this site that he first published his tome which later became portions of the Endless Wire mini- opera (and allowed fans to critique this work in progress).

      Due to the constraint of monetary influx to keep the site running, Pete wisely chose to shut the site down. A real shame, however, as that was a nice portal to a remarkable musician and artist. A true visionary.

      Now, here’s something really neat to watch. Dave Wakeling speaking about how Dave and Pete were having a hard time with his song Save It For Later. Its a blast to watch.


  27. … what a guitarist! Happy birthday Mr. Townshend!

    I saw the new design of DG’s opening (home) page. Thumbs up to whom eliminated the scroll bar there!! I hope the other pages will follow soon!

    BTW: since the theme colour changed with each released album, do we have to expect a new beige one? 😉


  28. I can’t pick one brilliant Townshend track, so I won’t. I just love that every phase of his career has music that wows me completely, blows me away. Any musician/writer who can make me at different times laugh, cry, think and dance is amazing.

    So he’s clever but not often precious which is a very good thing. I still wonder at the complexity of early songs like “Substitute”. Who else would shove in a line about at least getting his washing done?

    If I had to choose I’d probably pick all of Who’s Next, which as close to perfect as it gets. I still wonder what we’d have had if he’d pushed on with Lifehouse, but I’d rather have him relatively sane.

    Happy birthday, Pete.

  29. I don’t care to know, less still judge, every detail of his private life. He was, and always will be, a highly influential guitarist and a lyricist of the finest calibre, regardless of any media frenzy (which, I thought, revealed much more about society’s desperate need to condemn than it did about Pete Townshend’s assumed depravity).

    If we put half as much time and energy into dealing with the vicious cycle of child exploitation as we do the routine witch hunt, the world would be a safer place.

    I am and always will be a fan of David’s music, but I find your response to my comments a bit disturbing. Turn a blind eye springs to mind. I’m not bothered about a witch hunt, should we have a Gary Glitter day? He wrote some good tracks.

    What happened with healthy debate Fed?

    Sorry but I think this will be my last posting here. I always held your responses, humour and wit in the highest regard but your comments this time render me to feel quite bemused.


    1. Firstly, I’m sorry you feel that way. Healthy debate is always welcome, but I don’t think it necessary that we have one about what would seem to be a closed case. I don’t think it fair to bring my morals into question just because I’ve mentioned a celebrated musician, who is a friend of my employer and an artist I have always admired, on his birthday. I don’t believe that a forum such as this cannot be allowed to discuss his life’s work without focusing on his private life.

      Secondly, Gary Glitter was jailed in one country for having downloaded and viewed thousands of indecent images of children, then jailed in another when found guilty of numerous counts of sexual abuse against 11-year-old girls, then permanently expelled from another following further similar accusations. A convicted sexual predator, he’s rightly reviled and treated as a pariah. That’s a different matter entirely.

      Thirdly, I’m not turning a blind eye. I was horrified when the story broke and, believe me, this post wouldn’t exist had Pete Townshend been convicted of crimes comparable to Glitter’s. But he hasn’t.

      I realise that the rich and famous, with access to the finest legal experts in the land, often obscure the facts and perhaps we’ll never find out more.

      And, for the record, I do feel that paying to view such sickening images supports said vicious cycle and, in that respect, he was very stupid to do so.

      If family and friends can support him throughout, I don’t know why music fans shouldn’t.

  30. Hello,

    My favourite track is A Quick One, While He’s Away, the best is from The Who Live At Leeds however I also like Eddie Vedder/My Morning Jacket’s version of the song. Recently I bought a DVD of the The Who Live at Royal Albert Hall, which I found really good.

    Other favourites: Tommy (in full, best in 5,1 multichannel) , Love Reign O’er Me, Behind Blue Eyes.

    Never saw them live, and I’m not sure if they have ever come to Poland.

    Happy birthday Pete, if you are reading,

  31. I just watched the video of Quadraphenia with Mr Gilmour, posted by Rob above. THAT looks like a great show! Gilmour always brings something special to anything he is involved in, and this proves that point beautifully. “Love Reign O’er Me” has never ever sounded better.

    I was less impressed with “Eminence Front”, sorry. It didn’t do anything for me.

  32. This is my favourite version of ‘Substitute’. It’s from one of the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts. The Who are long-time supporters of the charity.

  33. Hi FEd, Hi folks!

    A curiosity that only FEd can sate (or be curious to investigate).

    Yesterday I had in my hands the special box that Pearl Jam realized of their debut album, TEN. Among CDs and vinyl, there is also a book with pics and drawings. I noticed a simple pen drawing of a Stratocaster on a white page. Above, using the same pen, the words: “The very first Strat Fender, Dave Gilmour” (or something very similar).

    I presume it’s not a drawing by David (who doesn’t sign as “Dave”, if I am not wrong), so what is it? A sort of tribute or what else?

    I asked my friend (the owner of the special box), but he doesn’t know any connections between the band and David Gilmour.

    So, dear FEd, you are the only one who can solve the mystery!

    Take care, mates!


    1. How interesting.

      I know nothing about that, sorry. It sounds like a simple tribute. Maybe some Pearl Jam fans can shed some light on it. Do we have any reading?

    2. Package also includes an Eddie Vedder-style composition notebook filled with replica personal notes, images and mementos from the collections of Eddie Vedder and Jeff Ament

      This snippet from the website seems to confirm it’s no more (or indeed less) than a doodling of Eddie Vedder.

      That’s an eagle eyed spot, it must be said. Not aware of any other specific linkages other than GHS strings… he probably just heard about it and thought it was a cool thing.

    3. Lucia,

      The book you are talking about should be the copy of an old Vedder’s personal diary, so the drawing should be made by himself.

      I’ve always seen Gossard, McCready and Vedder playing Fender guitars mostly, so also I think that drawing could be a sort of tribute.

      More than this, in an interview I read about Ten Legacy Edition, Pearl Jam told they really admire the way other bands, Pink Floyd first, have always had to take care of the look and packaging of their albums and to create something personal and beautiful.

      Following that example, with this special box they tried to produce something which their fans would like to buy, not only for the music, but for its aesthetic value, too.

      Maybe these words are another proof that the drawing could be a tribute.

      That’s all I know. 🙂

    4. I don’t know but If I had to guess one of the band members saw somewhere that David had the serial number 0001 Fender and thought it was a cool guitar… so he then promptly drew a sketch of it.

      What he didn’t know and what a lot of people don’t is that even though that guitar is serial #0001 (featured on the Strat Pack DVD) it is NOT the very first Fender made. If I remember right it is not even close but that is the serial number none the less.

      It’s my best guess as to why something like that would be in there anyway.

      Thank you very much indeed, good night to you.

    5. Pearl Jam also did a cover of “Another Brick in the Wall”, some years ago, so they should like their music, I think.

  34. I’ll always remember that Quad gig Dave did back in 1996 — mainly because I was absolutely shocked at Dave’s appearance. The last I had seen him was in the P.U.L.S.E video, where he looked healthy and in great shape, and then he shows up for the Prince’s Trust show in 1996, just two years later, looking older and out of shape. If I recall, he was wearing suspenders, which made him look even worse.

    Don’t get me wrong here — I don’t get caught up in musicians’ physical appearances, and the way they look has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the artists I like or the music I purchase. But that day in 1996 was a tad sobering to me, as I realized that one of my idols was indeed getting old, and wouldn’t be playing live forever.

    The bright side of this story is that after seeing Dave in 1996, I was fairly convinced that he had given it all up and would only do one-off gigs, and never record or tour again. Thankfully, I was wrong, because the Dave that we saw tour and record in 2002, and again in 2005-2006, even though his face had more lines, even though he had less hair, just looked and sounded more youthful than his former 1996 self.

    I only wish that Dave’s U.S. tour would have been slightly more extensive, as I did not have the opportunity to see him live. Hopefully, I will have that chance, one day…

    1. Don’t forget, as David has said in many interviews from that time, he was enjoying family life and had young children to take care of. If that’s not an excuse for putting on a few pounds and temporarily retiring from the music scene, I don’t know what is.

    2. Ryan, I cannot believe how disrespectful you are being. And why are you calling David, “Dave”?

      As for David’s appearance, does that really matter? Personally, I thought David looked very “healthy and happy” in 1996. Polly was obviously looking after him well.

      I remember seeing David in the flesh in August 1988 at Wembley Stadium (I was at the front). His hair was a bit longer and he looked a little more portly but I remember thinking when I saw him: “Gosh, he is lovely”. At the end of the concert I panted at him like a dog when I saw him looking toward me and he acknowledged me by winking at me. That made my day, I can tell you. I was also pleased because I learned a few guitar tips by watching his fingers on the fretboard.

      But why judge David on what he looks like? Surely his fingers and voice are what is on offer. No matter what he looks like, David will always be beautiful to me.

      As for your idol getting old, well it happens to us all and at least David doesn’t dye his hair, have face lifts or use Botox. He is 100% natural.

      Sorry I have strayed off topic.

  35. As an aside, I absolutely love the Who and Pete Townshend…”White City” is stunning, beginning to end — and there’s another Gilmour connection. The song (at least the tune for) “White City Fighting” was originally written by Gilmour for use on his About Face album. Gilmour asked Pete to supply lyrics to this song, but later felt he couldn’t relate to them, so Pete ended up using the song instead, with Gilmour playing guitar.

    This album is indeed About Face’s first cousin — I’ve always thought that musically, they bear many resemblances, not the least of which is Pino Palladino’s distinctive bass work.

  36. Don’t forget, as David has said in many interviews from that time, he was enjoying family life and had young children to take care of. If that’s not an excuse for putting on a few pounds and temporarily retiring from the music scene, I don’t know what is.

    FEd, absolutely…and I couldn’t agree more. At the time, 1996, I was just a college student, and didn’t think much about things like that — about the lives outside of the Floyd (or even outside music in general) for Gilmour, or Waters, for that matter.

    These days, of course, as I’ve just turned 35, I see the world quite a bit differently than I did then.

    1. :)) You and me both.

      It’s a bitch, for want of a better word, thinking back before your time to all the great music moments you’ve missed, and then realising that they’ll be few and far between in future. I understand that frustration.

    2. :)) Please, don’t tell it to me!

      When I have been adult enough to go to a concert, most of my favourite bands and musicians had quite stopped playing.

  37. If family and friends can support him throughout, I don’t know why music fans shouldn’t.

    I recently went through an awful time in my life and the above is very, very true… you know who your friends are…

    Apologies for any offence I caused, Fed.


    1. I’m not sure if you are Paul Sexton, but, if so, I’m very happy to see you here again. 🙂

      I hope you will have better times very soon, Paul.

  38. I will share a great story with you, and I wish there was some recording of this somewhere… but I doubt it.

    The Who did a show in the indoor ASU arena in Tempe Arizona around 1980, a couple of years before their “Last Tour”, which was in the outdoor stadium. That night, in the middle of the performance, the power went down, and the entire Phoenix and Tempe area was pitch black. It took about 15 minutes for the crowd to start chanting “BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT…”, and that continued for quite a while. It wasn’t a bad chant, more of a humorous one… you had to be there.

    Anyway someone got a portable generator going and a spot light came on the stage, and there was this janitor with a broom sweeping the stage. He had his overalls on, and had a cap. He stopped sweeping when he got close to the guitar, and then the crowd started egging him on to grab the guitar. The next thing I knew the guy grabbed the guitar and turned it on, it was making a god awful noise and everyone was laughing away. Suddenly the guy jumped into the air and gave it a good whack, came down and started jamming away… it was Pete Townshend in that janitor outfit. The crowd jumped to their feet in shock. It was truly the greatest concert moment I had ever witnessed.

    The power came back on shortly after that, and it had to be one the greatest shows they ever played.

    1. Thanks for sharing that great memory with us, Stephen.

      When I saw them a few years back, they also had problems with their power supply. Pete just cursed loudly on this occasion, though.

  39. Hi Michèle,

    Aye, it’s me. Long and short is my partner had Breast Cancer which has been removed and she has now finished her Chemo with a course of Radiotherapy to go through but things look good… thanks!

    1. Please send her our very best regards, Paul. I know that quite a few people reading this know exactly what you’re going through.

  40. Julie:

    I am not sure you read my post carefully enough — I believe I stressed that it really doesn’t matter to me what musicians look like. I couldn’t care less, to be honest, and certainly, I wouldn’t be a fan of such bands as Floyd, Yes, Rush, etc. if I truly based my opinions of their music on how they looked physically!

    Back in 1996, I was a college student, and music was first and foremost in my life — it still is very important to me, but at that time, and it’s hard to truly express in words, the music of Floyd both got me through the tough times and served as a beautiful accompaniment to the good times. I had the very fortunate opportunity of seeing the Floyd on The Division Bell tour in 1994, and I hadn’t really seen any of the guys since that time (since seeing their P.U.L.S.E. video) when I tuned in to VH-1 for the Prince’s Trust concert in 1996. It just struck me how different Dave seemed, how he had appeared to age considerably within the course of just two years. I didn’t think any less of him, or his music! I realized at that time (as FEd stated above) that he wouldn’t be playing live forever, and that I was lucky to have had the opportunity once in my life to see him play live.

    As far as calling David “Dave,” I had no idea that was being disrespectful. I think Nick and Roger still call him that, don’t they? I’m not sure how that is being disrespectful, but my apologies if you (or anyone else) sees it that way.

  41. Fed, Michele, Alessandra… Gillian and I are very grateful for the kind words… speaks volumes of this blog.


    P.S. Come on Barcelona! 😀

  42. Ryan, I did not only mean that you saying “Dave” was being disrespectful, I also meant that you were being disrespectful about his appearance too. That is how I read it this morning, sorry! Don’t mind me.

    However, I have also seen PF in 1988 and 1989 and David looked a lot different to how he looked in 1994 and 1996. I thought that he was looking a lot better than he did in the late 80s.

    Doesn’t David hate to be called Dave by people who do not know him?

    Anyway, I wasn’t being nasty to you, honest! Peace. 🙂

  43. I loved quite a few of the Who’s songs, but could never understand Pete Townshend’s penchant for destroying guitars. I didn’t like to watch them for that reason.

    My favorite song would probably be Love, Reign O’er Me.

  44. I saw the original Who in Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. In 73, my first concert ever, I witnessed Pink Floyd. Both were excellent shows years apart.

    Love Reign O’er Me is my favourite song along with Pete’s rendition of All Lovers Are Deranged.

    Thanks to Michele, Ulli and Lorraine on today’s chat. Nice to keep in touch for a long while.

    I’d like to say Happy Birthday Peter and to the negative fans above, “Don’t judge an artist by his/her cover.” Pete’s music speaks for itself.

  45. I don’t know where all of this Dave vs David concern came from… I must have missed something somewhere along the way but I have seen Gilmour called Dave more than David… all of his musician friends call him Dave. I don’t think it is a term of disrespect. However, I just call him god (no, not God)… or Mr. Gilmour. I think if I met him I wouldn’t be able to speak.

    I definitely loved the 1987-1990 DG look the best… long scraggly and graying hair and he was ‘hungry’ to prove himself. Great shows during that time… although 2006 shows are the BEST that he’s ever played. I don’t think anyone will argue with that. FLAWLESS!

    I’ll have to go check out Love Reign o’er Me again from ’96 Quadrophenia b/c I just remember that it was a mess! He was searching. Maybe I’m the one who was searchin’… I don’t know.

    Enjoy the long weekend, Americans.

    Blake in Nashville

  46. I’m a big fan of Pete! I’d like to see a world tour of his solo work with a stop in either St. Louis or Kansas City.

    I saw The Who a few weeks ago on cable and think they are better than ever.

  47. Concert for People Of Kampuchea thirty years ago, I did like The Who and The Rockestra set very much.

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