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Townshend Says Stadium Rock Led To Quadrophenia

Pete Townshend
(Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Pete Townshend says that the enormity of stadium rock was the specific thing that drove him to write the Who’s 1973 double album, Quadrophenia. Townshend, who’ll hit the road with Roger Daltrey and the band later on this month for the second North American leg of the Quadrophenia & More Tour, told Guitar World that the band’s success drove him to address the Who’s original fans: “I actually felt as if I’d lost my original brief as a writer through being introduced to stadium rock and being one of the main protagonists of stadium rock. I’d lost the feeling of writing for the Who, writing for Roger’s voice within the Who, giving him words to sing to express the feelings of inarticulateness, dislocation, and frustration of the audience that we grew up with. I’d felt I’d lost that. I’d look out into an audience of 86,000 people and think, what do they want me to do, I don’t know. There’s just too many of them.”

Townshend told us that he hoped that Quadrophenia would once again connect them with their early fans who followed the Who back in 1964 when they played such regular haunts as the Goldhawk Club and Railway Hotel: “I kind of hit on this notion that what had happened to the Who, was that we lost contact — not with our audience, per se — but with our original audience, with our very first audience. And it would be interesting to look at what somebody, like a kid y’know, from, y’know, the early days of the band; what they would feel looking at the Who — not so much in the present day, but, y’know, in three or four years on — and whether they would find themselves in that band or not. And if they did find themselves in that band, what would they find?”

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