The only two bands that can call themselves “classic rock”, according to Pete Townshend

Pete Townshend recalled, “Keith Moon, God rest his soul, once drove his car through the glass doors of a hotel, driving all the way up to the reception desk, got out and asked for the key to his room.” This is the way the genre has developed, and for many people, it’s all that defines “classic rock.” The idea of a fancy car barging into an opulent venue for a pre-concert chuckle without a note being performed makes you think that the band you’re dealing with is four white guys doing pyrotechnic blues covers.

Of course, that’s a superficial interpretation of a revolutionary idea, and Townshend was always conscious of the genre’s actual atavist spiritual potency. He stated to the New York Times in 2019 that “I’ve always regarded the rock-star phenomenon with immense disdain,” in spite of the outrageous stories that have been made about his life. favoring a more mystical interpretation of music.

For Townshend, even as a small child, the art form was more than just songs or periods of insanity spent in hotels. He said, “I was the child of the guy who played saxophone in a post-war dance band. He knew what his music was for – it was for post-war, and it was for dancing with a woman that you might end up marrying. It was about romance, dreams, fantasy.”

In the midst of an explosion of pop culture, riots were out of control, presidents were being killed, and people were searching for a way forward. He introduced a new kind of song. He told Apple Music, “Music, even today, is about much more than that. It has a function, which is to help us understand what is going on in the world and to help us understand what is going on inside us, so the purpose and the duty of somebody who makes music is very different to the way it used to be. […] And I think I was the first to articulate that and try to explain.”

Only two bands, in his opinion, were able to rock this. When he inducted The Rolling Stones into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he said that they did it with an energy that verged on the alchemical. Back then, it was all about realizing the expanse of emancipation on the horizon. “I can’t analyse what I feel about the Stones because I am a really an absolute Stones fan, always have been,” he started.

He added, “Their early shows were just shocking. Absolutely riveting, stunning, moving, and they changed my life completely. The Beatles were fun, no doubt about that. I’m talking about they’re live shows. I’m demeaning them in any way. The Stones were really what made me wake up.”

He continued, “They are the only group that I’ve ever really been unashamed about idolising. So much of what I am I got is from you, The Stones. I had no idea most of it was already secondhand (he laughs). No more gags, the Stones are the greatest for me. They epitomise British Rock for me.”

Townshend’s favorite bandmate, guitarist Keith Richards, famously remarked, “I’ve never had a problem with drugs.” I’ve encountered issues with the cops. Pete exploited the fact that he had an issue with both to make a point about rocks. Townshend intervened to preserve the integrity of the genre after New York’s WAXQ-FM declared The Police to be a classic rock act: “They’re now calling The Police ‘classic rock.’ I don’t think so. The Police are punk. They’re a punk band. They’re not classic rock” he mocked.

He concluded, “You know, you’ve got the (Rolling) Stones and The Who. Classic rock – finished. It’s all over after that…this is just music. It’s not classic anything.” Claiming to be the father of heavy metal, he believes that all other genres are only spin-offs of the original McCoy, leaving the exalted realm of classic rock as a desolate two-horse village.





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