The Who Icon Pete Townshend’s Reaction To ‘The Guess Who’ Band

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The life of rivals who later become friends is no ordinary story, especially in the music industry. The music scene is known for its competitive nature, where artists and bands struggle for the spot at the top of the pyramid. A rivalry that turned into a good friendship is exactly what happened between The Who and The Guess Who. However, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Their relationship has had its ups and downs over the years.

The Who was founded in 1964, and its lineup consisted of Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon. Their success over the years has made the band one of the most influential in the 20th century. Meanwhile, they have managed to sell over 100 records and contributed to technological advancements in the music industry. On the other hand, the Canadian rock band The Guess Who was active from 1968 to 1975. The band was as hard-working as a band could be, releasing 13 studio albums in their short career.

Although they formed their groups in different countries a few years apart, they were unaware of each other until they were in the same place simultaneously. The Marquee club in London is where the band members first interacted.

Pete Townshend’s Witty Response To ‘The Guess Who’

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The Who and The Guess Who have always seemed to have a grueling relationship. At least that’s what the media portrayal of the two bands showed to the outside world. Their similar names caused a great stir, especially by The Guess Who. They were so worried about the possible confusion of their names that they even confronted The Who to change it to something else.

The Guess Who guitarist Randy Bachman recalled the story of how it all went down at The Marquee club in London during an interview with Loudersound. He stated that after hearing about an English band called The Who, he wanted to speak to them immediately to coerce them into changing their names to avoid confusion between the two bands. However, after their first interaction with Pete Townshend, they quickly realized that this proposal was a dead end.

The Guess Who guitarist Randy Bachman’s words on how they confronted Pete Townshend and his reaction:

“When I was in The Guess Who, we learned about this English band called, The Who and were determined to force them to change their name. So, we were in London and The Who were playing at The Marquee club. Down we went to confront them. They were being filmed for German TV at that show, so we had to wait about four hours. 

Eventually, we meet them and say: ‘Look, we were here before you. So, change your name; it’s confusing people.’ Pete Townshend looked at us and replied: ‘There’s The Yardbirds and The Byrds. Nobody’s confused by that. So bugger off.’

The two bands became great friends. And that phrase ‘bugger off’ was our in-joke. We’d check into a hotel and find out The Who were there, so we’d call up one of the guys at 3 am and when they answered, we would say: ‘Bugger off!’ then hang up. They’d do the same to us.”

When the Guess Who claimed they were in the music scene long before them and requested them to change their band name, Pete Townshend gave a witty response and said, ‘bugger off.’ This phrase later became an inside joke between the two bands and is now recalled as an amusing memory.