Yes’ Steve Howe Admits He Was Scared Of The Who And Pete Townshend

In a recent interview with Classic Album Review, legendary guitarist Steve Howe, known for his work in progressive rock bands like Yes, shared some intriguing stories about his early days in the music industry. He talked about his time in the band Tomorrow and their relationship with The Who, as well as some personal thoughts on Pete Townshend. As it turns out, Howe and his bandmates were quite intimidated by the iconic British rock band and their guitarist.

Tomorrow was part of the counterculture movement in the late 1960s alongside The Who. Both bands were influential in shaping the music scene of that era, but they took different paths. While The Who was known for their aggressive sound and stage antics, Tomorrow was more focused on creating dreamy, psychedelic tunes that promoted love and peace. The difference naturally caused different perceptions and opinions from both sides about each other.

In the interview, Howe discussed a specific comment made by Pete Townshend about the music and style his band followed at the time. He explained that Townshend was quite critical of the counterculture movement, claiming that it was too dreamy and unrealistic; however, the musician defended the vision his band shared along with many others and maintained that their music held a powerful message.

Howe also touched upon the differences between Tomorrow and The Who, specifically mentioning the contrasting stage personas. While The Who was known for their aggressive performances, Tomorrow embraced their hippie identity. The musician recalled a time when his band had to open for The Who to emphasize the effect of tone difference, admitting that they were frightened by their counterparts.

When reminded of Townshend’s comment about counterculture, Howe said:

I think it’s way off the wall. Now, a seed was sown there, which was so wonderful, dreamy, and – you know, such a wonderful idea. It was too wonderful. It was too soon for that. In fact, maybe never too soon because we can’t seem to steer the world into the love and peace, and hopefulness that we saw in our minds in 1967.

Sure, there was some LSD and pot smoking and things, but any hard drugs put you in another camp. We’re not – We weren’t jazzers, and we weren’t assuming anything. So, I think Pete’s [Townshend] a little cruel there. The idea was fantastic.”

He continued:

“Sure, he was more on the aggressive side, you know, in bashing up guitars, and doing that, I could see that The Who and a group like Tomorrow most probably won’t be in sync. I think The In-Crowd opened for The Who, or it might have been when Tomorrow opened for The Who in Red Hill sometime around these years.

And we were fairly scared of them [Laughs]. They seemed like a heavy bunch. We were hippies. I think I’m extremely proud to have been a hippie. You know, I’m not ashamed of it at all.”

Steve Howe’s candid reflections on his experiences with Tomorrow and The Who provided an interesting perspective on the different paths taken by these influential bands. Despite the fear and criticism, Howe remains proud of his time as a ‘hippie’ musician, and his dedication to spreading love and peace through his music continues to inspire fans today.