Subscribe to our newsletter

Credit: Flipkeat

Music

The only band to make Pete Townshend miss a Who show

The Who are undoubtedly one of the most heavily mythologised rock bands of all time. From their iconic mod style to the lyrics of ‘My Generation’, and the genius of each member, they are a band who have made an indelible mark on popular culture. 

The band produced hit after hit, and the virtuosity of drummer Keith Moon, bass player John Entwistle, and guitarist Pete Townshend, which was spearheaded by the charismatic frontman Roger Daltrey, endeared them to fans worldwide. Their visceral live shows, which invariably saw equipment being destroyed, quickly became the stuff of legend, and this served to augment the countless classics they churned out with ease.

Even though each member is a virtuoso, one thing is clear, without Pete Townshend, things would never have taken off for the London band. He was their driving force, their main songwriter, and the one who kept everything held together, even when it was falling apart at the seams. Best known for his aggressive electric guitar-playing style, Townshend is so much more than this, and it’s a point that often gets forgotten.

Even though we can credit Pete Townshend for the majority of The Who’s brilliance, do not be fooled into thinking he was unfailingly reliable though, as he, like every other human being, was prone to distractions. Whether it be drugs, lovers, or otherwise, Townshend was equally as mischievous as his bandmates, and one of the most iconic embodiments of this came when The Who were at their zenith in the mid-’60s. 

It is well-known that psychedelic heroes Pink Floyd, when they were fronted by Syd Barrett, were Townshend’s favourite band, and the magic of their live shows enchanted him. He was so obsessed with the Cambridge outfit that they were the only band good enough to ever make him miss a Who show.

Luckily for Townshend, it was he who inducted Pink Floyd into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005, and during his speech, he remembered watching them in the early days and discussed the transformative effect they had on him.

He recalled: “I first saw Pink Floyd during the Christmas break in 1966 at the UFO club in London, it was a great club. Syd Barrett was on guitar at the time, astonishing, the whole band were wonderful, just wonderful. Roger had the most extraordinary, impressive presence and their sound was swirling, cosmic and enveloping.”

Seeing Barrett and Co. just the once wasn’t enough for Townshend. After that fateful moment at the UFO club, he just had to catch their cosmic grooves in action again. This was when he decided that he needed to watch Pink Floyd more than playing a show with The Who, and by all accounts, and those from himself, he’s quite happy with the decision he made, because that is the only Who show he ever missed by choice.

He continued his Hall of Fame speech: “But you could dance to them and that was quite a big thing in the psychedelic era because you had to dance like this (comedic dances move). A Pink Floyd gig is the only reason that I ever missed a Who show, period. Apart from car crashes or serious illness. January the 20th, 1967 I skipped a Who gig in Morecambe to take the famous Eric Clapton to see this guy Syd Barrett play guitar with Pink Floyd and on another occasion, I went all the way to Los Angeles to take Nic Roeg, the film director to see The Wall, in February 1980.”

Follow Far Out Magazine across our social channels, on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.