Book Review: “Who I Am” by Pete Townshend

I’m not much of a fan of “The Who” rock band until I read this book. It’s a book about Pete Townshend’s journey from a child of non-traditional upbringing to becoming a famous rock star.

– Interesting creative process of writing songs: locking himself up in non-stop marathon creative session. Rock opera like “Tommy” was a stroke of genius though I still couldn’t put rock and opera in the same sentence or think of them in similar veins. His dedication to the craft of playing and create music is certainly admirable.

– Being born with talents to a musical-talented parents (father was a musician and mother was a good band singer) equipped him with some advantages, though it comes with some downsides of unstable family environment (mother’s on-and-off relationship with his father).

– The Who has many good hits including the theme songs used in CSI, New York. It’s a walk down the memory lanes when I replayed some of their songs and videos on Youtube.

– Pete’s relationship with Eric Clapton and helping Eric’s struggle with his and his wife’s drug addiction. He probably save them from their own self destruction, by Pete’s account.

– Like the Rolling Stones band, the Who band was also involved in lots of drugs, and alcohol. For Pete, he used alcohol more than any other drugs, according to the book. He drank and drove often and got his driver’s license revoked, fortunately, so no one else got hurt.

– Smashing guitar became his signature act because of his performances in his earlier career. Also Pete turned the feedback and level saturation into an art form.

– Lacking spiritual direction, Pete Townshend became fascinated with the teaching of Baba Meher, who claimed to be an Avatar of God. Must be the side effect of too much drug or alcohol abuses.

Overall, it’s a good book if you are a “The Who” fan. Since I’m not, it didn’t do much for me but it did bring back lots of memory when I checked back all the The Who hits like “Who Are You,” “Baba O’riley,” and other good songs on youtube. The book reminded me of Keith Richards’ autobiography “Life.” See review here. The Who has left its mark in the musical history. Pete Townshend certainly contributed a great deal to it, as documented in the book.