Behind Blue Eyes: The Life of Pete Townshend

Behind Blue Eyes: The Life of Pete Townshend

by Geoffrey Giuliano
     
 

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He was the brains behind the innovative and phenomenally popular band The Who. He invented the rock opera with Tommy, and his new version of that show was a long-running Broadway smash. He is an outstanding guitarist whose career has flourished over more than three decades. Pete Townshend has lived a fascinating, often troubled life, but strangely, he has never been

Overview

He was the brains behind the innovative and phenomenally popular band The Who. He invented the rock opera with Tommy, and his new version of that show was a long-running Broadway smash. He is an outstanding guitarist whose career has flourished over more than three decades. Pete Townshend has lived a fascinating, often troubled life, but strangely, he has never been the subject of a biography-until now. Rock authority Geoffrey Giuliano, who has known Townshend intimately for almost twenty years, provides a complete look at Townshend's turbulent and eventful life. Giuliano details Townshend's stellar career with impressive insight, candor, and compassion. Giuliano also delves into the sensational aspects of Townshend's much-talked-about personal life, including his devastating addiction to heroin and alcohol, his volatile and sometimes violent relationships with fellow band members, and his recent admission of his bisexuality. Appendices feature a complete discography of Townshend's recordings over the last three decades and an exhaustive chronology of events. Relying on countless interviews with close friends, co-workers, and fellow musicians (including Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, and Keith Richards), as well as with Townshend himself, Giuliano draws an enlightening and entertaining portrait of rock's often contradictory and all-too-human elder statesman.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
Pete Townshend has lived a fascinating, often troubled life, but strangely, he had not until now been the subject of a biography. This first-ever portrait of the genius behind The Who chronicles his amazing career, life-threatening addictions, and enduring presence as one of the world's greatest popular composers and performers. Includes photos.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The man who became a voice of the young when he penned such 1960s anthems as "My Generation" and "I Can't Explain" has grown from a guitar-bashing rebel to a revered inductee (as a member of The Who) in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In this spirited chronicle, veteran rock biographer Giuliano (Dark Horse: The Private Life of George Harrison, etc.) captures nearly everything in between, the excesses as well as the successes. Townshend's tumultuous life has gone through several incarnations. Giuliano adequately documents the musician's struggles to continue to break new creative ground after the public embraced Tommy, his conflicts with his bandmates and, of course, his highly publicized substance-abuse problems. But Giuliano also peels away the layers of Townshend's public persona to find a complex, passionate man who is full of contradictions. Although Townshend has been married to the same woman most of his adult life, he has carried on numerous affairs with both men and women; in the 1970s, he followed the teachings of spiritual leader Meher Baba, which required him to abstain from alcohol and drugs, but he continued to struggle with his addictions. In tracing Townshend's later years, Giuliano, who's known the rock star for nearly 20 years, reveals that his subject hasn't lost his bite: "You know what happens to the likes of Bowie, Jagger, and me?" asks Townshend. "Our teenage kids turn around and say, `You look like mutton dressed as lamb. How can I possibly have my friends around?' " The kid's still all right, and so is this penetrating look at his life. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Touted as the "world's loudest rock band," The Who has also been one of the most innovative and popular musical groups for more than 30 years now. The creative force behind the band has always been Townshend, who, surprisingly, has never been the subject of a full-fledged biography. Giuliano (Born Under a Bad Sign, St. Martin's, 1994) uses his 20-year friendship with Townshend, interviews with Who insiders, and previously published interviews to create an admiring but gritty and insightful account of this contradictory man. He covers Townshend's troubled early life, his transformation from jazz guitarist to guitar-smashing rocker, his addiction and subsequent recovery, his search for meaning and discovery of guru Meher Baba, his creative output (especially the rock opera Tommy), the autobiographical nature of his writing, and his recent admission of bisexuality. Though Giuliano's style is often florid, this is a highly readable account of a popular musical genius and his demons. Recommended for all music and popular culture collections.Rosellen Brewer, Monterey Bay Area Cooperative Lib. System, Cal.
Kirkus Reviews
Riddled with inconsistencies, this overlong and occasionally self-serving biography of the Mod rock satyr offers little about its subject that fans don't already know.

Founding member and driving force behind the Who, rock 'n' roll Boswell of his "G-G-G-Generation," creator of Tommy (and of a new form of musical excess, the "rock opera"), and possessor of one of the most prolific appetites (even by rocker standards) for booze, drugs, and the high life, Pete Townshend has long since cemented his legend as one of the giants of contemporary rock. Beginning with the Who's 1965 anthemic "My Generation" (remembered for its defiant refrain, "Hope I die before I get old"), Townshend's career is perhaps best characterized by an uncompromising (some would say self-destructive) approach to both music and life. Giuliano (Blackbird: The Life and Times of Paul McCartney, 1991, etc.) has collected an extraordinary number of details about Townshend's profoundly dysfunctional childhood; his long-standing rivalry with fellow Who member, vocalist Roger Daltrey; his addiction to heroin; his search for religious meaning and his (occasionally bizarre) devotion to the silent Indian mystic Meher Baba; his erratic career after the Who stopped touring; his charitable work; his hearing loss; and the relatively recent revelation of his bisexuality. Less conspicuous, however, is the narrative focus that might make sense of all the facts. Giuliano seems at times flummoxed by his mercurial subject, who offers contradictory interpretations of his own work, including several different explanations for the "Hope I die" line. The author variously describes Townshend as an effete, middle-class artist and, seemingly without any recognition of the contradiction, as a gritty "working-class rocker from West London." The book seems equally incapable of suggesting what influence Townshend's sexuality has had on his music or what it tells us about the pattern of his life.

A confused, contradictory, and unrevealing work.

Booklist
The drinking, the drugs, the groupies—all are here, along with everything you want to know about Meher Baba and Pete, and lots of overintellectualizing about rock. In other words, this is the perfect Pete Townshend bio.
Calgary Sun
Fans will never get closer to the man than in Behind Blue Eyes…. Magnificent…

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780452275621
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/01/1997
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 8.98(h) x 1.05(d)

Meet the Author

Geoffrey Giuliano is the author of Dark Horse: The Life and Art of George Harrison and Lennon in America. He lives in Thailand.

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