ground, star in
of "The Who‘s
Marga, Bruise, ,..
mocks his future
for a role as
than a few
with the kind
ete Townshend always has been something
of a cultural revolutionary.
With “My Generation,” he gave the world
its ﬁrst true punk rock anthem — all slash—
ing guitars and teen-age rage.
Four years later. he returned with a far more so-
phisticated if no less revolutionary work. A spiritual
concept album detailin the adventures of a “deaf,
dumb and blind boy” w o rises above his abusive
surroundings to win fame and fortune as a messian-
ic pinball wizard. “Tommy" may not have been the
first record worthy of the “rock opera“ tag, but it
certainly did come to define the genre.
That was 25 years a 0. Townshend himself is par-
tially deaf now, one of t e uglier beneﬁts of excessive
ampliﬁcation, but he and Tommy are still out there
on the front lines. making the world safe for revolu-
tion. J ust last year, the boy who cried “I hope I die
before I get old" brought rock ’n‘ roll kicking and
screaming down Broadway — only instead of being
shovm the door, he managed to walk off with ﬁve
Tony Awards and a shiny new box-ofﬁce record.
Talk about an amazing journey.
Wendy Bobbitt. musical director for the national
tour of “The Who’s Tommy," which opens Tuesday
at the Benedum. sees Townshend’s success as noth-
ing less than a theatrical watershed, one that could
open the door to a whole new wave of composers.
“It‘s the ﬁrst of it’s kind.” she says. “All the walls
are falling down now and people are crossing the
Destan Owens. standing, Alec Timerman and Ken-
nya Ramsey in a scene from "The Who‘s Tommy." ”j
lines to shake hands."
Granted, Broadway has ﬂirted with rock culture
in the past. “Hair" and “Jesus Ch'n'st Superstar" are
practically textbook examples" of people who have
nothing to do with rock ’n‘ roll trying real hard to
capture the magic.
But as Scott Totten. who's handling Townshend’s
guitar parts on the road. points out. sometimes try-
ing real hard just isn’t good enough.
“The score to ‘Jesus Christ Superstar‘ is excel-
lent.“ he says. “but as far as it being rock. let's face
it, it's Andrew Lloyd Webber."
People like Webber can dabble all the want. Tot-
ten says, “but these are people outside t e idiom.
whereas Pete Townshend is the idiom."
The most amazing thing about “Tommy“ may be
SEE ITOMMY'; iPACJE m
. . . but so what?
oor Pete Townshend.
How was he to know
he’d live forever. then grow
up to win live Tony Awards
for a bi -money rock ‘n‘ roll musi-
cal? Ki 5 don‘t think about stuti'
Maybe if he had. he never would
have written anything as stupid as
“I hope I die before I get old.“ 01‘
maybe he would have mitten it
anyhow. just so future generations
of rock critics could sit around and
marvel at the irony of it all.
Heck just about everyone lives
to regret something they said back
when they were young and more
likely to say things A lot of times, it
can be something as simple as “I
do." For Pete Townshend. it‘s more
likely the famous death wish from
"My Generation.“ Or perhaps. “Hey
guys. why not get Kenny Jones to
fill in on drums?“
The trouble with big statements
like “I hope I die before I get old,“
of course. is the ever-present dan-
ger of a long, healthy life.
So now that he‘s old — well. he
turns 49 in a month — what‘s he
supposed to do? Take it back? Pre-
tend he's dead? Jump up and down
singing songs he wrote 30 years
a 0 until he makes a complete fool
0 himself like Mick Jagger?
He already tried that once. but
then his hearing went out right in
the middle of his third-to-last fare-
The sad truth is. there‘s only so
many options left for a rocker push-
SEE TOWNSHEND, VIPKGE :2