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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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Story

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BEST AUTOBIOGRAPHY EVER--DON'T MISS THIS ONE

If you could sum up Who I Am in three words, what would they be?

Oh My God

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

They will all be comparing themselves to this one. Pete Townshend's autobiography stands alone.

Which character – as performed by Pete Townshend – was your favorite?

I would say my favorite was the African American blind musician in the bar who remembered Townshend's interrupting voice from a past performance. Hysterical. But Townshend telling the story makes it even funnier. I dare you to listen to that part without smiling.

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

Yes, but I didn't want it to end, either.

Any additional comments?

I was taken by the author's sincere and honest reading. I didn't know who he was until I read this audiobook. What an incredible life. Who would have thought an autobiography could be this good???? A++++++++ HIGHLY RECOMMEND. Don't miss this one. BRAVO

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LONG!!!

If you could sum up Who I Am in three words, what would they be?

A great summary, without leaving out ANY details. It took 11 chapters to get to The Who's biggest commercial success, Tommy, in 1969. And there were 22 more chapters to go.

Would you be willing to try another book from Pete Townshend? Why or why not?

I don't know what else Pete could tell us about his life.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Pete Townshend?

Not really. This wasn't the best recording. He would laugh at his own stories and the audio would fade in and out.

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

No, it went on too long.

Any additional comments?

Just too long.

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So incredibly dissapointing

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I consider myself a huge Who fan, so I would likely cut this book more slack than most. If someone is a Who obsessive that wants a timeline for production and release dates, this book would serve, I guess.

What could Pete Townshend have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

It's close to 20 hours long but incredibly short on detail where it matters. It's an endless parade of yachts purchased, women he loves madly (but disappear by the next chapter) and misery heaped on his long suffering wife.

Keith Richards allegedly accused Townshend of "thinking too much". So true-he tries to come off as deep and cerebral but it just doesn't work.

Would you be willing to try another one of Pete Townshend’s performances?

I'll stick to Who albums!

What character would you cut from Who I Am?

The 500 people he name checks without their adding anything to the story.

Any additional comments?

Just a massive disappointment.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Meera
  • Philadelphia, PA, United States
  • 11-13-13

Disappointing

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

As a Who fan, I definitely found this worth listening to. I would have liked more about some of the music-the 60's and 70's speed by quickly. I didn't really get a great idea about his relationships with the other members of the band and his wife. Yes, he talks about them, but he has more detailed anecdotes about presumably peripheral people, like Theresa Russell. In that vein, he goes into detail about things that were ultimately not relevant, and completely skips over and glosses over other things.

Would you be willing to try another book from Pete Townshend? Why or why not?

I would definitely read a books about him, but not by him.

Any additional comments?

This was in parts a painful listen, because Townshend had a painful upbringing that he carried with him through his life. I tried to keep this in mind when he describes his self-admittedly jerky behavior.

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  • John
  • Oconomowoc, WI, United States
  • 09-08-13

Candor is central to any autobiography

Would you consider the audio edition of Who I Am to be better than the print version?

Finding time to listen is easier than finding time to read. Many hours behind the wheel allow me to safely enjoy an audiobook where reding a print or digital media book would be impossible or at least ill-advised.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Pete is clearly central. This is, after all an autobiography. I very much enjoyed that he narrated. His candor and self-awareness (low self esteem notwithstanding) personalized his tales and experiences and allowed the listener in. Thank you.

What does Pete Townshend bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The authors narration makes this more the telling of stories than the reading of a book.

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

I laughed. I cried. I cheered and I jeered.

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Pete Townsend - rebel or just restless?

If you could sum up Who I Am in three words, what would they be?

Surprised, enjoyable, rousing

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

I loved that Pete Townsend read the book, therefore putting emotion in the reading. The acute laugh before reading an experience allows the reader to enjoy the moment a little more. Overall, where I thought Pete Townsend was a real rebel, I believe he has just led a life of restlessness with lots of fun times.

Which scene was your favorite?

Too many to recount

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

His memories of his grandmother looking after him. So truthful.

Any additional comments?

Loved listening to this book. It showed more of the man than his music does, which is a lot.

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Wow...what a surprise.

Having never really been a big Who fan I am not quite sure why I choose this title...certainly am happy I did so.....I almost felt I was on the Magic Bus. My preconcieved notions about the members of the band were flat out totally wrong. Pete Townsend I always knew was talented...even though not a big fan anyone who is a peer of those who madeup the British Invasion would have to be deaf not to heard and appreciated at least some of the Who's music. But Pete Townsend is so much more....he has really packed in a massive amount of accomplishments and interests and career's (yes multiple careers-while a rock star) into his life. A truely remarkable man. The only disappointment I had was he mentioned so many cities that he traveled,toured ,vacationed and visited...but when telling the story of Keith Moon driving the Lincoln into the pool at the Holiday Inn...he omitted saying it was in Flint,Michigan...as that is my hometown I wish he had-but then it is his story and his book.
His performance in reading the book was incredible...again far beyond what I could ever have imagined. He told a fascinating story and held my attention with an incredible performance....he proved to me he could perform on many different stages in many numerous ways. Funny it just occured to me how he shared all of his vast accomplishments and never once was he bragging or boastful...in fact quite the opposite...I admire that as well he certainly could have. A great listen-enjoy.

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  • Kevin
  • United States
  • 04-28-13

To My Dear Friend Pete

Dear Pete,

I am writing to let you know how much one of your very recent recordings moved me, and warmed my heart. Of course I am speaking of the audio version of your autobiography, “Who I Am,” read by you. It has such an intimate quality that I started to feel like we were great mates back along the way, had lost touch, bumped into each other in a pub, were thrilled to see each other and catch up. We each enjoyed a tall glass of Cool, Cool Rain, as you told the most fascinating stories of the adventure life has been for you since last we met. Wow!

I enjoyed finding out about your love of sailing, I get it, me too. And the story about how your agent got you to go to Woodstock, lock the door and keys out the window, too funny. Glad he did, because that’s where I first saw you in action – no not at the event –but at a four and a half hour premier screening in downtown Chicago, just five months after the event. This was before the movie, ‘Woodstock’ blew up at the Cannes film festival, launching many bands, along with yours, into the stratosphere.

What’s so wonderful about this day and age is I could go online and look up your performances, and video’s. There’s a version of “Who Are You,” from what looks to be the late 60’s that I showed to my 22 year old son and asked him, “Which band member do you think drove a Lincoln Continental into the outdoor pool at a Holiday Inn and got the band thrown out of the Holiday Inn chain for life.” My son doesn’t know much about the band but in this video it became obvious that the drummer was full of the kind of mischief that would find him behind the wheel of such a prank. It was also obvious to me how you could forgive Keith nearly anything with just one of those impish smiles, even your lose of hearing from using too much explosives to blow up his drums.

I also loved seeing you in action on stage in New York performing for all the first responders. WOW! The power that came through you, the band and the songs was phenomenal. Made me realize how much more you have to offer when sober. You literally destroyed that guitar without having to smash it up. And what you call your “spazz dancing” was more like a fiercely vibrant whirling Sufi prayer rocking the audience, and me watching the video. It was the pure essence of you. Thanks.

Glad the Kennedy center honored the two remaining members, loved how Jack Black got you guys to crack up, and then, did I see a few tears?

And to have found romantic love with a talented and creative partner, well that may be your greatest creation, well let’s be fair, at least one of them.

What I love about you most is your loyalty to friends, your passion for creation, and your ability to forgive others.

Your Friend Kevin

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  • Walt
  • Florida
  • 04-05-13

Who fans will love it...but

Would you consider the audio edition of Who I Am to be better than the print version?

I loved hearing Pete Townshend tell the story of his life. In my opinion, his voice makes this autobiography great. His self-deprecating approach to many of his experiences and praise of many individuals in his life show a side of this musical genius few have ever known, until now.

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

No

Any additional comments?

Being a huge fan of The Who and someone who was able to see them live multiple times in all forms of the band, I was truly looking forward to listening to this book. Unfortunately because of my schedule, I was only able to listen in 20 - 40 minute segments. That became an issue when trying to keep all the names straight.

Pete meticulously brings many names to the story; from agents, record people, musicians, sound engineers, girlfriends and acquaintances to family members and influences. If there is any drawback to this book it is that. I believe even someone who is able to listen to the whole book in 2-3 sittings would still get a bit confused keeping all the players straight.

Nevertheless, this a fascinatingly interesting and openly honest story about one of rock n roll's icons.

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GREAT listen

If you could sum up Who I Am in three words, what would they be?

Real raw truth

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

great stories

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

no

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

kept me very interested from beginning to end

Any additional comments?

none. really enjoyed this listen!