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Episode 1

1 hour
First broadcast:
Tuesday 23 August 2011

Pete Townshend gives a full, frank and fearless account of his career as a musician and his life in the rock business.

Going back to his childhood, he remembers being on tour with his father's glamorous dance band and how the safety of those years gave way to something darker when his parents separated. Those childhood traumas led him to become a storyteller and a consummate guitarist.

"There was something a bit vengeful about it. I thought, when I finally do emerge, you're going to know about it. I was smaller than everybody else, I didn't shoot up in height until I was 17 - they were all having sex, I didn't kiss a girl until I was 18... but I knew I needed to be in a gang, and the gang was the band."

Pete reflects on the birth of The Who, the mods, and he remembers their brilliant, well connected managers: wild, posh Kit Lambert and suave, beautiful, Chris Stamp - the perfect marriage of West End and East End. He talks about the rage of The Who's music, about learning to be showmen, and turning up the volume "so we didn't get heckled by the yobbos in the audience."

Believing that pop music needed a spiritual dimension, and that the Beatles had failed to deliver anything meaningful, Pete remembers wanting to do something "audacious" with Tommy. It was "about the stories that I grew up with in my neighbourhood... stories of sexual abuse, of bullying, of post war violence. What I'd touched on was deeply personal. I was MY story, it was where I was at."

Pete also shares a vivid account of the psychedelic years and of the horrors of Woodstock, whilst in the second part he will speak candidly about the money, the fabulous fame, the drinking and tensions in the band.


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