Classic guitar interview: Pete Townshend, 1990

Back in 1990, Guitarist magazine caught up with The Who guitarist and songwriter Pete Townshend, who was characteristically frank and revealing. Here, we look back at this classic interview.

What originally influenced you to become a player and a writer?

“My father had played the guitar when he was young and my uncle Jack had worked for Kalamazoo, before the war, developing guitar pickups. So there was a kind of family thing about the guitar, although it was considered something of an anomaly then.

“My father was in a dance band and I wanted to do what he did, play the saxophone, but I couldn’t blow a note so he suggested the guitar. Chromatic harmonica was actually my first instrument and I got very good at it – not quite Stevie Wonder, but very good. Then I hit eleven and decided I did want to try the guitar, so my grandmother bought me one.

“Then I started to examine what was happening, listening to Elvis Presley like all my friends. But to be honest I never really liked him, and also I think Scotty Moore was an aberration – it’s not my idea of great playing.



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