Pete Townshend Claims ‘The Beatles Copied The Who’ When Talking About The Iconic ‘Sgt. Pepper’ Album

During a recent interview with Rolling Stone, the Who co-founder, main songwriter, and guitarist Pete Townshend talked about The Beatles’ iconic ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band‘ and argued that they stole the idea from A Quick One, While He’s Away‘ which was released in late 1966.

There’s no doubt that Pete Townshend is one of the most famous guitarists and musicians in rock history and he’s often credited as the mastermind behind The Who’s success. With a career that spans almost six decades, he’s come to meet a lot of iconic musicians, and his views on rock culture and music are considered to be highly valuable.

During his recent interview, Townshend discussed The Beatles’ iconic album ‘Sgt. Pepper’ which was released in May 1967 and spent twenty-seven weeks ranking at No. 1 on the Record Retailer chart in the UK and fifteen weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Top LPs chart. The album came to be known as a turning point for the ’60s pop culture as it was praised for its innovations in songwriting, production, and graphic design. It was also applauded for managing to bring together popular music and high art.

After approximately seven months later, The Who released their third studio album ‘The Who Sell Out‘ which can be described as a concept record. The album achieved widespread acclaim from both critics and fans, most of whom considered it to be The Who’s best record. As it was released just some months after ‘Sgt. Pepper,’ the interviewer asked Townshend if they were inspired by The Beatles’ album.

To this, Pete responded by saying ‘The Beatles copied us‘ and described the interaction that he had with Paul McCartney, prior to both albums’ release. Apparently, Paul had told Pete that they really liked ‘A Quick One, While He’s Away’ which was a mini-opera recorded by the band for their second album ‘A Quick One.’ He had gone on to say that The Beatles is considering doing something with a similar concept.

Following this interaction, The Beatles started working on ‘Sgt. Pepper’ which released in May 1967, and parallelly, The Who had been preparing for their third album. Pete said that during that time, anybody who was a little bit adventurous or art school, ‘would have thought about doing something which was a concept.’

Here’s what the interviewer asked:

“The Beatles released ‘Sgt. Pepper’ [in May 1967] at the beginning of ‘The Who Sell Out’ [released in December 1967] era. Did that inspire you at all? They framed their songs around the ‘Sgt. Pepper’ idea and you framed yours around a pirate radio station.”

To which Townshend responded:

“No, no. Come on. The Beatles copied us! Paul McCartney came up to me at the Bag O’Nails [music club], which we mention in the album artwork. He was always very, very sweet to me… I should say that first.

But he said to me that he really loved our mini-opera, which was called ‘A Quick One, While He’s Away.’ That was on the album that preceded ‘The Who Sell Out.’ And he told me they were thinking about doing similar things.

I think anybody that was even a little bit art school back then, a little bit adventurous – and, of course, The Beatles were encouraged to experiment to the max in the studio – would have thought about doing something which was a concept.”

Click here for the source and you can watch The Who perform ‘A Quick One While He’s Away‘ below.