Pete Townshend Talks Last Major Solo Work; First Novel Arrives

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Always looking for a new creative outlet, The Who’s Pete Townshend has now added novelist to his résumé. Titled The Age of Anxiety, the book—Townshend’s first novel—published on Nov. 5 by Hachette Books in the U.S. and Coronet Books in the U.K., is a key step in a new project that he says is “perhaps my last major solo work.”

The novel can be ordered in the U.S. here and in the U.K. here.

Townshend, who turned 74 on May 19, shed some light on the book, in a post on Nov. 3: “This novel was written to provide the base for a solid libretto for an opera-art-installation I regard as perhaps my last major solo work. The libretto is complete. The music is composed. The video artists and installation artists are in position. I’m hoping 2021 and 2022 will see me get to realise this project at last.

“The author is a rock musician, and there are some characters who are in bands, but it is also a mystery story, and a story about drug abuse, being a parent, creativity, anxiety, being blocked as an artist, and the psychic miracles worked by certain women in the story. Believe it or not (and I doubt you will) this is not autobiographical. I’ve done that. But the story is set very much in my world, my work, my neighbourhood, and is inspired by my people.”

An earlier blurb described it as “a great rock novel, but that is one of the less important things about it. The narrator is a brilliant creation—cultured, witty and unreliable. The novel captures the craziness of the music business and displays Pete Townshend’s sly sense of humor and sharp ear for dialogue. First conceived as an opera, The Age of Anxiety deals with mythic and operatic themes including a maze, divine madness and long-lost children. Hallucinations and soundscapes haunt this novel, which on one level is an extended meditation on manic genius and the dark art of creativity.”

Townshend explains, “Ten years ago I decided to create a magnum opus that would combine opera, art installation and novel. Suddenly here I am with a completed novel ready to publish. I am an avid reader and have really enjoyed writing it. I am also happy to say the majority of the music is composed, ready to be polished up for release and performance. It’s tremendously exciting.”

Townshend is doing a series of book signings in the U.K. Details are here.

Related: Pete Townshend’s 10 best guitar moments with the Who

The 272-page book follows Townshend’s memoir, Who I Am, by seven years. He has also written newspaper and magazine articles, book reviews, essays and scripts. Townshend was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, and he has received many awards, including a Grammy in 1994 for The Who’s Tommy and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001.

Watch Pete Townshend perform “I’m One” in 2011

Townshend published a short-story collection, Horse’s Neck, in 1985. A previous attempt at a novel, Ray High and the Glass Household, was abandoned but Townshend used some of the ideas from it in his 1993 solo album Psychoderelict. In 1977, Townshend launched his own Eel Pie publishing imprint and in 1983 he worked as an editor at the Faber and Faber publishing firm.

In addition to the novel, the Who’s are releasing their first studio album of new material in 13 years. WHO arrives Dec. 6. The band have already revealed they’ll be touring again in 2020, with dates so far announced in the U.K., and at least a handful of performances in the U.S., many of which are rescheduled from when Roger Daltrey briefly took ill during the group’s fall tour. Tickets are available here and here.

It’s also been revealed that a “reinvention” of The Who’s Tommy musical will return to Broadway in 2021.

Listen to “All This Music Must Fade,” the second song released from the new album, WHO

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  1. Irv
    #1 Irv 5 November, 2019, 13:40

    Pete Townsend is one of the most creative, with the who!!!
    Songwriter’s And musicians of our time. I Personally relate to their
    Music, growing up in London. Thank you Pete And Roger,
    And members of the who.

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