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Who I Am | [Pete Townshend]

Who I Am

From the voice of a generation: the most highly anticipated autobiography of the year, and the story of a man who wanted The Who to be called The Hair; wanted to be a sculptor, a journalist, a dancer and a graphic designer; became a musician, composer, librettist, fiction writer, literary editor, sailor; drank too much and nearly died; detached from his body in an airplane, on LSD, and nearly died; planned to write his memoir when he was 21; and published this book at 67.
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Publisher's Summary

From the voice of a generation: the most highly anticipated autobiography of the year, and the story of a man who...

  • ...wanted The Who to be called The Hair.
  • ...wanted to be a sculptor, a journalist, a dancer, and a graphic designer.
  • ...became a musician, composer, librettist, fiction writer, literary editor, sailor.
  • ...smashed his first guitar onstage, in 1964, by accident.
  • ...invented the Marshall stack, feedback, and the concept album.
  • ...inspired Jimi Hendrix's pyrotechnical stagecraft.
  • ...is partially deaf in his left ear.
  • ...stole his windmill guitar playing from Keith Richards.
  • ...followed Keith Moon off a hotel balcony into a pool and nearly died.
  • ...did too much cocaine and nearly died.
  • ...drank too much and nearly died.
  • ...detached from his body in an airplane, on LSD, and nearly died.
  • ...was embroiled in a tabloid scandal that has dogged him ever since.
  • ...planned to write his memoir when he was 21.
  • ...published this book at 67.

©2012 Pete Townshend (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers

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What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (335 )
5 star
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4.3 (304 )
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  •  
    Melinda UT 10-12-12
    Melinda UT 10-12-12 Member Since 2009

    So hooked by audio that I have to read books aloud. *If my reviews help, please let me know.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Glad To Meet You"

    Absolutely without guile; open, frank, visual. What a life, what a legacy, and what a g-g-generation!

    To put my 5* rating in perspective: as a very young teen, I was indifferent about The Who, couldn't name more than 3 songs they performed, wasn't a fan of the on-stage performance art-ish antics, and thought Tommy was mildly entertaining thanks to Elton John and Tina Turner; I'd rather have been listening to my Hendrix or Zeppelin LPs. So, my interest in this book surprised me; it was purely from seeing this very recognizable man recently on TV, promoting his bio, and being struck by his level of sincerity and vulnerability -- an almost apologetic demeanor without any of the ususal celeb braggadocio and self-aggrandizement that ruined some of the music celeb bios I've tried to get through (because yeah, we know, you're a bad A$$). Could that possibly be that rock star that used to do that windmill thing, smash his guitar, and strut with the royals of British rock, long live sex drugs and rock and roll? I was not some former fan, hoping to read Townshend's bio and flash-back to the glorious days when *I'd walk over you to see The Who.*

    That perceived candor was accurate; I doubt it's possible to lay yourself so bare, as Townshend has done here, and be duplicitous. The history is fascinating and it reads like a grand timeline of rock and roll (which he calls *the absolute vehicle for self-destruction*). Townshend can probably go head to head with Keith Richards and his stories, but you don't get the sense that you are gathered around a pub table being regaled with wild rock star adventures -- though there are plenty of tales included. Instead, there is a kind of tolerance and wisdom that distances Townshend from being led by his talent to mastering his talent. His insecurities and self-doubts are bravely admitted, his love of family and friends obvious. I liked that he spoke about his achievements without bragging, aware of his talent as a gift--not a free pass to be an arse.

    Once in a while an author connects to the reader and invites them into his life, it becomes intimate and real, like a confessional, and that connection is a gift borne of talent. Townshend's writing, and choice to narrate the book himself, put this book in that category. If I'd paid attention to those lyrics years ago, I probably wouldn't have been so surprised by his depth and talent. Like the man, this book is the real thing, and the product of a life lived hard...and well. The best celeb bio I've read to date (including the great Steve Jobs bio)--and remember, this is a man I had no interest in before. I'll have to go back and listen to The Who (with my *mature* ears) to see if I am yet a fan of the music, but I can say without any doubt I sure like Pete Townshend the man.


    45 of 47 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cow Poke McGhee Topeka, KS 10-11-12
    Cow Poke McGhee Topeka, KS 10-11-12 Member Since 2012

    Get a long little doggie...

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Phenomenal"
    Where does Who I Am rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    top 5


    What other book might you compare Who I Am to and why?

    Steve Jobs


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Early days in London


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Absolutely


    Any additional comments?

    The exquisite story and rich language of Mr. Townsend's autobiography serves to further establish him as a truly great artist. His light touch and genuine warmth in his reading is a special treat. When he laughs at little episodes of his own amazing life, you are reminded of the human being within the genius.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    scott palm desert, ca, United States 11-20-12
    scott palm desert, ca, United States 11-20-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Townsend is very interesting."

    I thought I knew most of the stories about and around The Who, I was wrong. Pete goes into some great depth about his struggles and interactions with his own personal struggles and the struggles with the band. He didn't seem to hold back, appears to be very honest. He wrote about things in depth that would have been easily trivialized. I appreciate his honesty and candid accounts of his life from his point of view. No sugar coating. I very much enjoyed this book. I would put this on par with Steve Jobs book. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys biographies. I am very glad he narrated the book. Wish more autobiography authors would do that. He seem to add some fake laughter at time that didn't really work for me but that is really nit picking.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Miami, FL, United States 10-20-12
    James Miami, FL, United States 10-20-12
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    "Absorbing and fascinating"
    What made the experience of listening to Who I Am the most enjoyable?

    Listening to Pete Townshend narrate his own biography makes this even more special. He does a great job with it, laughing at times at the absurdity of what was happening in his life. You feel as if he is talking to you personally, musing about the events of his life and sharing them with you in an evening together. Peter's artistic genius is everywhere evident; his portraits of other people in his life, the band and those he met along the way, are generous, gracious and full of depth, color and nuance. For those of us who are fans of the Who, Pete chronicles the events in his life, his thoughts and feelings that led to the writing of some of the most memorable rock songs in history.


    What other book might you compare Who I Am to and why?

    This is similar to Keith Richard's autobiography, "Life" which is not narrated by him. For those who lived through the '60s, these autobiographies are wonderful to read.


    What about Pete Townshend’s performance did you like?

    It feels like he is talking to you personally, that we are spending an evening together in his home, while muses and shares memories of his life and the people and experiences he had.


    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew CARMEL, IN, United States 11-12-12
    Matthew CARMEL, IN, United States 11-12-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Wonderfully Written!!!"
    What made the experience of listening to Who I Am the most enjoyable?

    Pete Townshend provides very interesting insights into the british rock scene of the 60's. The interactions between various artists of the time was amazing.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Pete Townshend pulls no punches for anyone including himself. Seemed to be very honestly written.


    What about Pete Townshend’s performance did you like?

    He was able to laugh at himself and his past behavior.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I went back and listened to my entire Who library. It was really cool to have that first hand background on the creative process that Pete went thru to write a lot of the Who's songs.


    Any additional comments?

    You will not be disappointed with this purchase.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan LaVergne, TN, United States 02-01-13
    Alan LaVergne, TN, United States 02-01-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Pete Townshend - Once was a note...Listen!"
    What did you love best about Who I Am?

    I absolutely love a book read by it's author...unless it's Stephen Hawking. Almost kidding. You get more than the words when you hear the author actually recalling and reflecting on his own life. The emotions conveyed by the voice of the one who lived it adds a three-dimensional quality that mere printed words can not adequately convey. I have always been a Pete Townshend fan and wish to say thanks from the very bottom of my heart. You are truly one of rock and roll's greatest in one of the greatest rock and roll bands that will ever be. Many thanks to you, Roger, Keith, and John for the music you have given the world to enjoy. Tommy remains light years ahead of any modern composition. It has the same effect on me today as it did the first time I ever heard it some forty plus years ago. Wow! What an accomplishment.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Who I Am?

    Your comment on Mick Jagger was sincere...honest...and hilarious!


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Plenty of funny moments between the bandmates especially Keith but I also enjoyed the backstories behind the creative engine that drove Pete to make his art. Truly a master craftsman.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Pete - Pure and Easy


    Any additional comments?

    I highly recommend this book. Delightful. Money well spent.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roderick Davies melbourne australia 01-10-13
    Roderick Davies melbourne australia 01-10-13 Member Since 2012

    fender man

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "the unlikely rock performer"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, this book is an honest story of a music life some would love to live. Townsend shows he is a thinking man with feelings and reactions to living as we all do. This story adds clarity to the Who as a band and empathy to its leading light ... Pete Townsend.

    This story is a refreshing look at the heady days of the music scene, fresh and exciting .... before accountants and lawyers stole it from us.
    Slowly, Townsend evolves into the man he is today, a sometimes painful look within, he shares his feelings. and without the fear of the useless media attacking, the story is for the reader or listener, not a journalist with an ache for a sound bite?

    I hope Pete Townsend finds his solace in his studio, he has demonstrated to his audience that he is a thinker, a lover, a musician of worth and a man of the times he grew up in.
    A book to be treasured and read again as we continue to grow up.

    a baby boomer.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    the author, it's a bio stupid!


    Have you listened to any of Pete Townshend’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    no


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    "I can't explain"


    Any additional comments?

    This book is better as an audio book as the nuances from the reader gives light to attitudes and outlook subtly coming through in his voice and laughter.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim Hancock, NH, United States 01-30-13
    Jim Hancock, NH, United States 01-30-13 Member Since 2005
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    "An intimate conversation"
    What made the experience of listening to Who I Am the most enjoyable?

    The author is reading his autobiography, and you can hear the passion in his voice in certain passages. Conversely you hear the humor in other funny (or bizarre) stories about his life as a rock icon. It is like he is sitiing in a coffee shop with you and telling you his life story.


    What did you like best about this story?

    You get to understand the man a bit better. It is more than just a travel log.


    What about Pete Townshend’s performance did you like?

    It is his story. He is the only one who can truly tell it.


    Any additional comments?

    If you are a Who fan, this is a must!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chad Duluth, GA, United States 01-16-13
    Chad Duluth, GA, United States 01-16-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I LOVE this book. It is like hanging out with Pete"

    I LOVE this book. It is like hanging out with Pete Townshend as he tells me about his entire life and all the interesting stuff about his musical career including the Who and many other folks! Very interesting!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donaldo Milton, NH, United States 03-10-13
    Donaldo Milton, NH, United States 03-10-13 Member Since 2011

    Admirer of history and biographies.

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    "Pretentious Get"
    Any additional comments?

    I'm a pretty big Who fan. It was my hope that there'd be some sort of inside stories of how some of my favorite songs came to be which, to fair there are, but not anywhere near enough. I was also hoping to hear some inside stories about the recording process and their legendery screaming matches but alas, only a scant few. The narrative pretty much goes on about his neurosis’ and accompanying substance abuse problems, which is fine. But personally I would have preferred more of the former and less of the latter.

    Beyond that, the sniggering smarminess that dominate spots of his narration tend to wear thin after a while and have left me having to listen to this in installments. I havn't even finished listening to the book, but intend to. In conclusion, it's just a difficult listen where I fully expected to devour it.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 41 results PREVIOUS125NEXT
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  • S Lipperman
    Belfast Norn Iron
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Who Is He?"

    I'm a huge fan of rock bios but have less and less time to read them. So hearing PT tell his story in his own words was brilliant.



    He's very honest and that mean that some people, and Pete himself, don't come out in the best light all the time. It's the struggle of a man trying to balance the spiritual, the carnal and a great musical gift.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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