May 19, 1945: Pete Townshend Born

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Pete Townshend at The Who concert at NYC’s Madison Square Garden, March 3, 2016. (Photo: Best Classic Bands)

The guitarist and primary songwriter with The Who was born on May 19, 1945, in the Chiswick section of London, England into a musical family, 11 days after the end of World War II in Europe. His father Cliff was a saxophonist with the Squadronaires, the Royal Air Force dance band. His mother sang with the Sydney Torch and Les Douglass Orchestras.

In 1956, at 11 years old, Pete Townshend saw the film Rock Around The Clock, attended his first concert (by rock pioneer Bill Haley), and got his first guitar for Christmas that year from his grandmother Emma. Although his early ambition was to be a journalist, he soon after started his first band with his friend John Entwistle.

Townshend went on to forge one of the most distinguished careers in rock music both as the guitarist and primary songwriter with The Who and as a solo artist. He is also an author – he published his autobiography, Who I Am, in 2012 – and worked as an editor for the publishing house Faber and Faber in the mid 1980s.

Related: Townshend’s 10 best guitar moments with The Who

Townshend revealed in Sept. 2017, that he and his longtime companion, Rachel Fuller, were married in Dec. 2016.

“This is a very, very happy thing for both of us,” he wrote on Facebook. “We have been together for more than twenty years, meeting at a rehearsal studio back in October 1996 where The Who were preparing for their own first revival Quadrophenia tour.

“We… did keep it as quiet as we could, telling only close family. I am incredibly proud of her, and if there is any element of her being any kind of trophy, it’s mainly because she is a fucking genius. But she’s also beautiful and smart. We have so much fun together.”

He is taking a sabbatical from the Who to help with a new musical by Fuller and Jesse Cameron Alick called The Seeker. The production is described by Fuller as being inspired by the book Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. Read more about it here.

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