In this critical biography of Pete Townshend, Smith (Purdue Univ.) explores a struggle between the artist and the commercial public he refers to as the "minstrel's dilemma." Early in his career as songwriter and leader of The Who, Townshend was forced by his management and the media to choose between his creative instincts and selling millions of records to the music consumers of the mid-1960s. Using anecdotes from Townshend's life, interviews with his subject and others, as well as extensive analysis of Townshend's song lyrics, short stories, and autobiography, Smith meticulously traces Townshend's career, personal development, and the effect of the minstrel's dilemma on him. Smith divides the book into three sections, covering Townshend's professional problems, his early days with The Who as a songwriter and then as a creator of the rock opera, and his solo work as a recording artist, musical theater composer, and short story writer. Recommended for fans and for academic libraries with popular culture and music collections.--Lisa N. Johnston, Sweet Briar Coll. Lib., VA
The author explores the legendary rock auteur's struggle between his own creative impulses and those of the commercial public. Faced with a modern version of the minstrel's dilemma, Townshend is shown as a musician confronting the same battles begun by early minstrels and later fought by composers such as Beethoven and Mozart. A common theme, that of the seeker, weaves throughout the various phases of his career and highlights his own quest for complete artistic expression free from compromise. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.