Funny Pete

Posted Sun, 01/20/13

"Who I Am" by Pete TownshendI finished reading Who I Am by Pete Townshend last night. It was a good book from start to finish and very well-written by the author. I've always admired Pete Townshend as a composer, musician and vivid story-teller. He also has a wry sense of humor, which is just as enjoyable as his other talents.

There are three passages in his autobiography which made me laugh out loud in particular. The first was when Pete and Roger Daltrey (lead singer of The Who and an accomplished actor as well) were attending a party in the early 1960s. Roger was known to be a bit rough around the edges, to put it mildly. Pete wrote of the party and Roger et al:

We saw fighting aplenty, and I have Roger to thank for the fact that no one ever laid a hand on me. Even a nasty drunk knew better than to provoke him.

In 1965, Pete bought a 1936 Packard V12 hearse. He parked it outside his flat in Belgravia, London. One day the vehicle was missing, and he feared it had been stolen. Instead, he learned it had been towed and impounded.

Out of nowhere I received a call from a man who wanted to buy the Packard. It emerged it had been impounded at the request of the Queen Mother. She had to pass it every day, and complained that it reminded her of her late husband's funeral. The bill to recover the car was over 200, an absurdly large sum of money, but the buyer offered to pay the fee in return for ownership. I agreed, and resentfully dedicated "My Generation" to the Queen Mother.

And finally, in 1996, Peter was aboard a Concorde flight from London to New York. The plane emergency-landed in Halifax because of technical difficulties (intense shaking as he described it). Also on the airplane were Elton John and his partner David Furnish. Townshend remarked how calm he remained through the event, but then wrote:

I wanted to commiserate with Elton abut a hysterical woman who'd started screaming (during the bumpy flight).

"That was me, darling," Elton confessed.

I highly recommend Who I Am to anyone who enjoys reading about the same era of culture and music. I'd rank Pete Townshend's book in the top five of all-time best autobiographies I've ever read (and I've read plenty of them).

Next up is In Spite of Myself by Christopher Plummer.

*Related post: Reading Picks (01/15/13).

Irish Eyes: Books & Reading

Tags: Books & Reading