Pete Townshend Recalls Hoping the Who Would Fail
Pete Townshend recalled feeling “really quite unhappy” as the Who began to experience success, and hoping it wouldn’t last for long.
The guitarist teamed up with colleagues Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle at an early age – but, as he told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show, it wasn’t a priority for him.
“I’m a bit of a disappointment in this area, really, because I didn’t really want to be in a band at all,” Townshend said. “I joined the band with Roger and John when I was at school and then I went to art college and the band continued a little bit … but I treated it as a bit of a joke.”
After releasing a single under their early name the High Numbers, the Who reached the Top 10 in the U.K. with “I Can’t Explain” in April 1965. When their debut album My Generation arrived later that year, there was no turning back.
“I was in my third year at art school and the band got a break,” Townshend said of “I Can’t Explain." "I wrote a song and we got a hit, and I was off in the world of rock 'n’ roll.” That didn’t mean he was satisfied, however: “The first few years of the Who’s career, I was really quite unhappy – I wanted to be an artist, and I was really quite eager for the band to finish. I thought we wouldn’t last very long.”
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