Behind Blue Eyes: The Life of Pete Townshendby Geoffrey Giuliano
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.
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.
- Penguin Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- 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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