October 22, 2020

1991-03-12 – Logansport Pharos Tribune

1991 03 12 Logansport_Pharos_Tribune_Tue__Mar_12__1991_

Creative genius of Whodiversifies

By MARY CAMPBELL
AP Writer

NEW YORK tAI’t — Much as Pete Town-
shend was applauded before — as creative
genius of the Who. writer of the acclaimed
rock opera “Tommy" and a superstar rock
guitarist — his gifts are flowering even
more.

With a book of short stories out and a new
record and video. he’s working for a British
book publisher, enjoying family life. in-
volved in social causes and eating well with-
out bloating Lu middIe-aged bulge.

It wasn’t hard turnin ~10 on May 19.
Townshend recently sai . "Being ~10 has

~mao’e me feel I don‘t have to worry about
naturally slowing down a bit. I realize I've
been running at very high speed for some
time."

He can still execute those high kicks and
airborne splits that were once his trade»
mark at Who concerts, but they‘re not quite
as high.

In the early '705, Townshend attached a
lot. of "personal idealism" to rock 'n‘ roll. “I
made it almost like a consuming obsession
that it might one day help to make the world
a better place.

“Now I look at 25 years of rock ‘n‘ roll,
culminating in Live Aid It has taken 25
years for the circle to be closed, when rock
all of a sudden does have power to change
things You change things by virtue of what
you do and not by virtue of what you say in
lyrics."

Townshend. who is involved with a refuge
or battered women in London. has found
haritable work enriching since ending the
Who 3?: years ago. _ .

"What was Qrphatzly inspired by a feeling

Family Leismrce
S©omcdl ©fi Mmsicc

of conscience has turned out to help me un«
derstand things.“ he said.

He recently filmed a concert in London to
raise money for a drug rehabilitation clinic
run by the Scottish doctor who had helped
him. “I did old blues early songs I'd written
that I’d never played live before, material
by (jazzmem Miles Davis and Charles
Mingus.”

Townshend met Dr. Meg Patterson in 1976
when she treated a guitarist friend for

heroin addiction. “As a result, I started
helping finance her works 1 called her for
myselt'Christmas 1981," he said.

“I was a heavy drinker but I used to man-
age quite welli I went to a clinic in Lon-
don. What they gave me in treatment quit
working I started to use heroin. [suppose it
was the shock of realizing I was going to
spend the rest ofmy life soberw

“I had to face up to the fact it was time to
leave the Who. The years of the Who were
great but the best of it was gone.

“I had to face the fact I wouldn‘t be able
to continueto meet contractual obligations I
had for records and stuff and keep the quali-
ty up. There was the feeling of letting the
fans down as well. You end up feeling a
great debt to the people who made you

wealthy and your life comfortable and 3m:
don't simply want to turn your back on
them." -

In July 1983. Townshend became an editor
at Faber & Faber. the company where TS.
Eliot was an editor for 30 years. “It was
such a tremendous contrast from my work

‘ in musiC'and also very enriching,“ he said.

"I’ve commissioned eight titles in each
year. about musiC. modern playwrights.
primitive poetry. things I have an instinc-
tive understanding of."

His own book of short stories. “Horse‘s
Neck." published in ha rdcover by Houghton
Mifflin Co.. will be out soon in paperback.
Though enormously pleased with it. he
thought his message could have worked bet-
ter as a sort of autobiographical novel.

“At the time I didn't have enough coni‘ii
dence m the reader." he said. "I didn't
think people would read a novel and forget
who had written it"

Tuwnshend simultaneously worked on his
new video and Atco albumo both titled
"White City." from November to August
He wrote the script t'or the Video and then
wrote songs to {it into it. Both cost about
5500.000 to make.

In the video. he wanted to talk about what
had happened to men since World War II. in
an increasingly feminist society with fewer
job opportunities. He set it in London‘s low
income houstng project called White City.
near Shepherds Bush. where he grew up and
the Who‘s career began in the early '605.

“Some of the plot that I had written out
very explicitly became a more poetic con-
tent in both lyrics and images ofthe film.“
he said. "I‘m calling it. preposterousty. p0-
etry. I think it‘s where the future of mule
video is." The "White City" video is 40 min-
utes. about the length of an LP. but the
"White City" album isn't a soundtrack.

“I was very anxious to get my teeth into
this stuff." said Townshend, “The film.
'Tommy.‘ happened three or four years af-
ter the record was released How dilTerent it
would feel if the two things happened at the
same time so that the images were present
in people‘s minds when they were hearing
the record on the radio."

His IS-yeawold daughter. Emma. is in the
video. Her sister. Minta. 14‘ was a clown in
Townshend‘s last one in 1982. Both are inter»
ested in music. "It is quite worrying when
kids want to get into the family business. -
You know the good side and the bad side."
he said.

Townshend truly enjoys family life. "My
father was a musician. I hated for him to be
away. I wanted him around. I‘m glad my
kids have a father.

"I don‘t know ifmy wife Karen would like ,
me saying this but I think I married her
years ago because of the way she looked."
he said. "Only in the last three or four years
I've realized what a fabulous human being
she is, That‘s a statement about how blind
man arm really."