Brian May: ‘Pete Townshend Invented Rock Guitar’

Brian May recently looked back on an interview where he described Pete Townshend as ‘a god of guitar’ and shared his love for him on Instagram:

“Thanks, Tracy, for posting this. I’m glad I said this – I probably don’t say it enough. I can’t imagine Rock Guitar without Pete Townshend. Looking back, it seems to me he basically invented it! I was lucky enough to be there watching. My playing owes so much to him. I’m not talking about the blues-influenced playing, which also underpinned the evolution of 70s and 80s rock music – Townshend brought to the scene a blistering clang of super-amplified but not over-saturated chords – razor-edged monoliths crashing angrily through our brains, biting rhythmic hammer blows, which would change the likes of me forever.”

He Thinks It’s Obvious In The Who’s Music

May often mentioned Townshend’s influence on his music in his past interviews. He delved into the guitarist’s catalogue in the new post to explain that impact:

“If you want to feel what I’m talking about – put on ‘My Generation’ at full volume on your home system – and gasp in wonder!!! Keith Moon drumming insanely, John Entwistle thundering a massive bass with the sonic breadth of a full orchestra – and an aggressive young Shepherds Bush rebel Roger Daltrey – a punk icon long before the invention of ‘Punk Rock.’ Completely Awesome.”

His words went on:

“Listen to those suspended chords in ‘I’m a Boy’ – how did Townshend invent that? Listen to ‘Substitute’ for a tour de force of gigantic rhythm playing and a lyric ten times as deep as anything out there. Finally, listen to The Who’s first chart smash – ‘Can’t Explain’ – along with their version of the classic ‘Summertime Blues’ it transformed Rock and Roll into ROCK!!! Good morning, folks! You have your assignment for the day!”

May Says Townshend’s Band ‘Ripped Out The Rulebook’

Brian May watched The Who guitarist on stage in Shepherds Bush as a teenager. He recalled the memory in a BBC Radio 2 interview about his musical roots by saying:

“When they did turn up it was mayhem let loose. It was just so loud, dangerous and anarchic, I guess. This was long before punk. So, I think The Who kind of wrote the recipe for punk, if you like. So, they played local to us and we went to see them a lot. We followed them, we loved them. They ripped out the rulebook.”

Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey decided to end the band’s six-decade career with a farewell tour last year. Townshend implied no plans to return at first but later said he was ‘being sarcastic about it.’