Pete Townshend’s Disappointment About John Lennon

The bands who share the music scene in the same period generally personally know each other and even build good relationships despite the fierce competition among them. The two legendary English rock bands, the Beatles and the Who, who respectively emerged in the music business in 1960 and 1964, were subject to some comparisons, even though their styles differed slightly from each other.

However, the band members of the two bands were known to be commonly on good terms with each other. The Who’s late drummer Keith Moon was a big Beatles fan and close friends with their drummer Ringo Starr. While the Who singer Roger Daltrey also generally made positive comments about the Beatles members and their music, there was one time when the band’s guitarist Pete Townshend wasn’t entirely happy with John Lennon’s attitude towards him.

How Was The Relationship Between Pete Townshend And John Lennon?

Being known for his sharp tongue, Pete Townshend criticized the Beatles several times in his previous interviews by claiming that the band had poor-quality music. Although he later admitted his love for the Beatles, the guitarist still labeled them as a more pop band rather than a rock and roll-oriented one.

In a 1982 interview with Rolling Stone, Pete Townshend was asked whether he was in touch with John Lennon during his five-year hiatus from the music industry and whether he liked his music. The guitarist said he could never connect with Lennon’s solo works. Although he enjoyed the late singer’s ‘Imagine’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ albums, he wasn’t a fan of his solo efforts in general.

Then, Townshend revealed that the Beatles’ ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ was an all-time favorite of his, but he still had very strange feelings about the Beatles since they were too remote as stars. He said he had good relationships with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison, yet he failed to build the same connection with John Lennon. Later, the guitarist recalled their brief phone conversation.

Pete once asked Lennon to join him for a drink to get to know each other better. However, the late Beatle refused to go out with Townshend, saying he wasn’t much into drinking and getting drunk anymore. The guitarist explained that it wasn’t his intention to create a scene like that, so he was misunderstood by Lennon. Following Lennon’s attitude, Pete Townshend didn’t persist with his wish, and the two never had another chance to form a close relationship.

Here is what Pete Townshend said about John Lennon and his solo works:

“No, I didn’t, really. I liked the ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ albums a lot and the ‘Imagine’ album. But I didn’t particularly enjoy his solo stuff. One of my favorite records of all time is ‘Strawberry Fields Forever.’ But I’ve always had very strange feelings about the Beatles, because for me they were too remote, as stars, and possibly always will be. I know the remaining members very, very well.

I have a good relationship with Paul and Ringo, and I see George occasionally; he’s a bit of a recluse, but I see him, and I feel perfectly relaxed with him. We’ve got a lot in common, particularly the interest in mysticism and gardening, and we live close to each other in the country. But John never… I spoke to him once on the phone. I was staying at the Pierre in New York – he had a suite there – and he came on the phone, and we had a quick chat.

I said, ‘Do you fancy a drink?’ Not meaning. ‘Let’s go get drunk.’ And he just said, ‘No, no, no. I’m just not into any kind of scene like that at all.’ And I said, ‘Well, what kind of scene?’ You know? I wasn’t suggesting a scene; I was suggesting getting together for a drink. And I thought then, you know, ‘Goodbye, John . . .’ Perhaps I, like many others, was never meant to know him. And I wonder whether his chosen form of remoteness wasn’t actually slightly instrumental in his eventual tragic death.”

Apparently, Pete Townshend wanted a closer relationship with John Lennon, but he didn’t insist on that after being disappointed by the late star’s rejection of having a drink with him. Although the guitarist just implied having a chat while having their drinks, Lennon misunderstood the situation by assuming that Townshend wanted to spend a crazy night by getting drunk.