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Who I Am [Hardcover]

Pete Townshend
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 9 2012

Long acknowledged as one of rock music’s most intelligent and literary performers, Pete Townshend—guitarist, songwriter, singer and founding member of The Who—at last tells his wild story in this candid and immersive autobiography.

Raised in west London by an eccentric grandmother, while his parents were off living the early post-war, rock ’n’ roll lifestyle, Townshend describes a frenetic childhood of displacement and abuse. Then, in high school, everything changed when he met Roger Daltrey and formed a band that would travel the world, earning fame, fortune and critical acclaim. In Who I Am, Townshend brings us from the inner sanctum of Eric Clapton’s drug-ridden hotel rooms to the feet of Jimi Hendrix and his electric kool-aid guitar; from the first trial performance of Townshend’s rock opera, Tommy, in a London bar to his infamous arrest (and acquittal) on child pornography charges.

With his trademark eloquence, fierce intelligence and brutal honesty, Pete Townshend has created a work of literature that stands as a primary source for popular music’s greatest epoch. Readers will be confronted by a man laying bare who he is, an artist who has asked for nearly sixty years: who are you?

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Who I Am + Waging Heavy Peace
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“Intensely intimate…candid to the point of self-laceration…[Townshend’s] tone is less lofty than anyone would have expected, just as this book is more honest than any fan would have hoped.” (Rolling Stone (Four 1/2 Stars!))

“Mr. Townshend’s self-portrait is raw and unsparing...as intimate and as painful as a therapy session, while chronicling the history of the band as it took shape in the Mod scene in 1960s London and became the very embodiment of adolescent rebellion and loud, anarchic rock ‘n’ roll.” (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times)

“Unusually frank and moving…[Who I Am] isn’t one of those rock memoirs that puts the what before the why. His past is a puzzle Mr. Townshend is sweating to decipher.” (The Guardian (UK)) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Pete Townshend is the legendary lead guitarist and principal songwriter for The Who, one of the most influential rock-and-roll bands of all time. Townshend is responsible for having written over 100 songs and rock operas in the band's important catalogue. He is one of Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. He resides in West London, where he was raised.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read, but I expected better March 30 2013
Pete Townshend is a legendary guitarist and songwriter. I have often been fascinated by Pete's honesty, passion and articulateness in interviews. So I approached this book with great anticipation. After all, he's like a rock 'n roll sage; when he speaks we listen. Unfortunately, this autobiography falls short. It takes too linear and chronological an approach, glossing over key details of his songwriting and performing career.

About a quarter of the way into the book I almost stopped reading it. However, before putting it on the shelf I read other reviews. It was then I learned that I had to approach the book in a certain way. Consider the book like Pete's therapy. He's not trying to play to the masses and delight in tales of rock 'n roll excess. Here is a man coming to terms with childhood abuse, infidelity, business challenges, and more. Through that lense, the book becomes manageable, and we follow Pete on his long journey as a musician.

This autobiography took Pete many years to write; perhaps too many. In the time it's taken Pete to write the book, rock 'n roll bios have become their own genre with some titles that have set a high benchmark. Bob Dylan's Chronicles is the best of the bunch in my opinion, and I wish Pete had taken a similar approach to Dylan: a journey through time, but every once in a while pulling over at the side of the road and giving more detail. I wish Pete described more of his influences, his songs, his favourite performances.

A worthwhile read, but not what could have been.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars June 25 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Started out great, too whiny in the end.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a must for fans April 28 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Pete Townshend bares all and let's us into his life of rock and roll excess and personal demons. It makes the reader want to be an artist.
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3.0 out of 5 stars well.... Oct. 3 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
While they write completely differently, one coherently and one idiosyncratically (guess which is which), I found a similarity between this memoir and Neil Young's "Waging Heavy Peace" - both books fluctuate starkly between being immensely informative/interesting and equally tedious.

Mr. Townsend's book is a wealth of information, both personally and historically, and for the most part I enjoyed it. The down side? Oddly, for a man as accomplished and erudite as he, Townsend's open reportage often comes off feeling self-congratulatory - and when writing of others, often feels like name-dropping. Is this his insecurity coming out or am I imagining things? (Don't answer that.)

Either way....
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pete is a Songwriting Genius Sept. 29 2013
By Bootsy Bass TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Yes...You are correct...This is a favorable interview. I have been a Pete Townshend fan ever since 1966's A Quick One...or "Happy Jack" as the version I bought back then in Canada was called. This bio is truthful and honest. I loved it BIG TIME.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Piece Of Work July 8 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book really bogged down in spots, it seemed that it kept going back to the same old theme. He really should have had some better help in writing this one. Tedious red.
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