Townshend book asks: ‘Who He?’

Who guitarist Pete Townshend - photo by Phyllis KeatingThe Who mastermind Pete Townshend has signed a book deal for his “honest” memoirs and is closing in on a 2012 publishing date.

“I am lucky to be alive and to have such a crazy story to tell, full of wild adventures and creative machinations,” said Townshend, whose career with the Who and as a solo act bridges five decades. He turned 66 a few days ago.

Harper Collins has worldwide rights and expects to release the Townshend book in the fall of next year. The publisher did not specify a title, but it appears to “Who He?” (Update: The book was titled “Who I Am.”)

Townshend’s partner Roger Daltrey is bringing his current tour of the rock opera “Tommy” to North American in the fall, but its creator won’t be along this time out. “I will be there in spirit and Roger has my complete and most loving support,” Townshend said earlier.

Word of Townshend’s book project went wide via nasty publicity in 2003, when the songwriter was found to have accessed child pornography on a web site. Townshend explained that the kiddie porn was part of the research for the memoirs, which will cover the childhood years in which, he says, he was molested by a grandmother. Townshend was “cautioned” by police after a long investigation.

Townshend has a long history of playing benefits for children’s charities. His career quickly recovered from the scandal.

Books by Keith Richardsicon and Steven Tyler are among the recent wave of rock autobiographies. Allman Brother Gregg Allman just announced a deal for his memoirs as well.

Townshend’s literary agent Ed Victor noted: “There are very few remaining gods of rock who have not written their memoirs. Pete Townshend is one of them. Now, at last, we will have his own story in his own words.”

Townshend added: “I am not my favorite subject, that will always be art and music, but whenever I write about my life and work I learn something. So the year ahead spent writing will also trigger the last vital bit of ‘growing up’ required by the now pensionable fellow who once wrote ‘I hope I die before I get old.’ ”

The Who is best known as a rock band with a flair for “maximum R&B,” but the band has sterling psychedelic credentials, starting with one of the first global hits in the genre, “I Can See for Miles,” which Townshend calls “the ultimate Who record.” The song “Armenia City in the Sky,” the concept album “The Who Sell Out” and parts of “Tommy” (such as “Sparks”) also have that psychedelic glimmer.

(photo by Phyllis Keating)

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