The Who’s Pete Townshend On Being Declared As ‘Better Than Eric Clapton’

Pete Townshend recently talked with Guitarist magazine about how his approach to playing the guitar has evolved. He talked about developing his unique sound, particularly before the internet era, and his continuous attempts to avoid playing the same old music.

The guitarist said, “I remember Leslie West saying to me about Eric Clapton: ‘I prefer your licks, Pete, to Eric’s because Eric seems to be playing things that he’s learned, that he’s picked up from other blues players.’ And I think that is a fair comparison, although I have seen Eric play live, where he really goes sky high.”

Over his career, Clapton was ranked #1 in several guitar publications. Townshend, meanwhile, broke the record for being the loudest band in the “Guinness Book of World Records” alongside The Who.

The Two Guitarists Have Very Different Sounds According To Townshend

In a 2021 interview with Guitarist, the Who guitarist claimed that one of the key distinctions between him and Clapton was his loudness. Regarding his live sound from the past, he clarified:

“The main thing about me trying to get a stage sound at that time, and also, of course, a sound that I could develop in the studio, was that there were no real effects available. There were no stompboxes, really, that were any good. There were a few around that all just made the same fucking racket. But there was no sinuousness in the sound.”

Talking about the former Yardbirds player’s strategy, Townshend continued:

“There was no dynamic; there was no sense of change in the sound. Jimi [Hendrix] used them effectively, but Eric didn’t. Eric’s sound was Eric’s sound, and the way it started the evening, it would end the evening exactly the same way. It was the notes that mattered, not the sound. I was interested in sound. In huge, changing sound.”

The Who Guitarist Didn’t Like Clapton’s Style In The Past

In light of this, Pete Townshend once thought that Eric Clapton’s musical style was “empty.” Townshend wasn’t fond of the guitarist’s tenure with Cream, despite the band being inducted into the Rock Hall and being included among the “Greatest Artists of All Time.” He disclosed:

“I have to say, that was my experience listening to Cream. It felt to me that sometimes it sounded so empty. I thought they would’ve been so much better if they had a Hammond player. I always loved Eric’s playing, but not always his sound. It always felt to me like it was a bit muffled in the Marshall days. That’s why I prefer Traffic and Blind Faith. I like the sound of that.”

You can check out The Who member’s recent chat here.






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