Pete Townshend Reveals Pink Floyd Threatened The Who

Pete Townshend shared with Classic Rock that during the psychedelic era, bands like Pink Floyd threatened to expose The Who as young musicians who couldn’t keep up with the likes of them, especially before their rock opera ‘Tommy,’ by saying:

“We had been a UK singles band who smashed guitars and wore funny outfits prior to ‘Tommy.’ We were not all that far from Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick, And Titch – appearing every month on ‘Top Of The Pops’ and trying to get to number one. Jimi Hendrix and Cream – and even Pink Floyd in their very early days – threatened to expose The Who as a lads’ band who were failing to rise to the spiritual and subversive romanticism of the psychedelic era.”

After feeling the need to transition from a singles band that couldn’t rise in Pink Floyd’s eyes, The Who took a risk and released their conceptual musical ‘Tommy,’ as Pete explained:

“‘Tommy’ had been more successful than we expected. All of us in the band quickly forgot the reality of our situation and what might have happened. If ‘Tommy’ had failed, we would have slid into ignominy.”

The Who’s risky move of making a conceptual rock opera became a hit, as it became a Tony-winning Broadway musical while also allowing them to be in the same lane as some of the big names in the industry, like Pink Floyd.

Several decades later, it’s having a revival in Chicago at the Goodman Theatre for new audiences. Pete announced that he tweaked some things within the musical that will run from June 26th to July 23rd to cater to the current generation. You can find more information about the show and tickets here.

You can read Pete Townshend’s Classic Rock interview here and listen to ‘Tommy’ below.