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uk First published by HarperCollinsPublishers 2012 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 Pete Townshend 2012 Permission to reproduce extracts from letters is gratefully acknowledged to Roger Daltrey, Bill Curbishley and Jackie Curbishley. Melody Maker extracts on pages 205 and 211 IPC Media/IPC+ Syndication While every effort has been made to trace the owners of copyright material reproduced herein and secure permissions, the publishers would like to apologise for any omissions and will be pleased to incorporate missing acknowledgements in any future edition of this book. Pete Townshend asserts the moral right to be identied as the author of this work A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library HB ISBN 978-0-00-746603-0 TPB ISBN 978-0-00-746604-7 EB ISBN 978-0-00-746687-0 Printed and bound in Great Britain by Clays Ltd, St Ives plc All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publishers.

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The day before the rst Granby Halls show, Keiths anger came to the boil. He had been frustrated by seeing millions of pounds spent on resources that would keep our road-crew employed for the next ten years, but would earn him nothing personally. Stuck in fog at an airport in Scotland, he walked up to the British Airways desk and was so brutally rude to the ground staff that he was arrested. Because no airline would carry us for a few months after this, the rest of the tour required a charter plane, which cost us the prot from the entire UK and European tour, a sum equal to around 2 million today. Keiths retort was a mocking laugh. No problem, dear boy, he said. We can write it all off against tax. In the dressing room after a show at Belle Vue in Manchester, Roger and Keith were frolicking with some girls Keith had met when he worked at the same venue with teenybopper heartthrob David Essex on the movie Stardust. I became aware of a girl left over, sitting by my right side, gazing at me intently. You, she said appraisingly, look like an undertaker. Until the British Punk-rock movement kicked off there were just two contenders for our crown: The Rolling Stones and the upstart Bruce Springsteen. Bruce had been celebrated in the New York Times in October 1975 with the headline: If There Hadnt Been a Bruce Springsteen the Critics Would Have Made Him Up. I concurred: in my mind I had already made him up, and Johnny Rotten too. I saw them both guaranteeing my extinction, or at least forcing my early retirement, a thought that triggered mixed feelings. Rock for me was about catching re on stage, going the extra mile. The Stones caught re because Mick Jagger never let up, never lost focus on stage and spent millions on stage sets. Springsteen caught re because he believed passionately in the importance of the audience, and the story the audience



needed to be told. His sets were usually well over two hours long. He worked on stage the way I did: to complete exhaustion. He also honoured Rogers working-class approach to singing, from both the heart and the lungs at once. In October 1975, while setting out plans for shows outside the USA, Bill Curbishley suggested we might try to break into Japan around the time the Tommy lm premired there. I couldnt see how we could possibly break any new territories without one of us dropping dead, and I was seriously worried it would be me. We couldnt keep up with the demand from the UK, Europe and the USA, and if we opened up new territories like Japan, Australia and South America we might never get any down time at all. In the background, Bill was being told by Roger and John that Keiths life would be saved if only he could be kept on the road where we could keep an eye on him. I wasnt so sure. I thought this was an excuse; they just wanted to tour all the time. Keith had told me many times that he was in trouble, but I couldnt help but think we were probably all being played; Keith was a clever man. After a show in Baton Rouge Keith ejected a difcult girl from his room. Around midnight I found her weeping in the lobby. She had nished telling Nik Cohn, who was travelling with us writing an article for a magazine, that he took my heart and threw it away like a broken toy. She had bleached strawberryblonde hair, bright red lips, pretty eyes, and was wearing fraying jean shorts and a low-cut red top. She looked like a Texas bar girl. Her eye make-up was smeared, and when I asked if she was OK she quickly pulled herself together and smiled at me. Hey, she said, laughing. Dont worry about me. This aint the rst time Ive been thrown out of a rock stars room for talking too much. But he didnt even fuck me rst. Her accent was singsong, slightly Southern, the kind of American accent



that to the indiscriminate English ear sounds cultured and sophisticated. Something about her made me feel at ease. Do you need a cab? Keith shipped me in from South Carolina, honey. Thats a thousand miles away. I thought it might be a little nearer than that, but I didnt argue. As usual I felt lost in America, with no real idea of where I was unless I was by the sea. Can I get you a room here? Suddenly she stood up, shook her hair, appeared to recover her composure completely, smiled at me, took my hand and led me towards the lift. Better yet, she said, Ill come and stay with you. So started a friendship that lasted for more than fteen years. Donna Parker was, like me, a devoted Kinks fan and a Ray Davies disciple. Got anything to drink? She was circling the room like a panther. I dont drink, I replied. At least, not at the moment. I could get you something. She asked for J&B and coke. I found two bottles and added ice from a machine in the corridor. She was funny, sexy and smart, icking through my copy of The Old Man and the Sea in the knowing manner of someone who is obviously well read. She made a pass at me and I demurred, trying to prove I was above all that. If I had been drinking I would have succumbed. She smiled at me very sweetly, lay down on one of the rooms twin beds and quickly fell asleep with her clothes on. I spent the entire night with a raging erection, willing myself not to reach out and touch her quite fabulous body. In the morning she spent a long time in the bathroom. I could hardly believe the transformation.



Yes, honey, she drawled, hand on hips like Marilyn Monroe and doing a breathless impression. I do scrub up well, dont I? Shed carried a short owery dress in her little bag, nipped tightly at the waist. Her legs were spectacular. Give me your address, I said. I want to see you again. In the lobby I recklessly gave her my home address and $150 for the ight home. The desk clerk made a face as though he smelled rotten eggs. Its not what you think, I told him. We just talked. Donna looked at me askance. Talked? She put her arm in mine and started to walk me out, then turned to the desk clerk and shouted, I fucked him ve times until he cried for his momma! It made me feel like a rock star. During our US tour Keith visibly darkened. He was often funny, but there was a new edge. And his cocktail of drugs had grown more complex. His minder, Pete Butler (nicknamed Dougal), had no inuence over him whatsoever. One day in December 1975, somewhere in the Midwest, Keith let it be known he was throwing himself a dinner party. Dougal telephoned each of us ceremoniously, inviting us to Keiths birthday gathering. Keiths birthday was in August, and when I mentioned this I was told this was a special gathering for a good friend of his who had missed the day itself. A room in the hotel had been set aside for the dinner, with a stunning display of mixed owers at the centre of the table. One by one we arrived and took our seats. There was excellent wine and champagne already in buckets and a low buzz of anticipatory chit-chat. Suddenly Wiggy stood up. Here he is! Happy birthday, Keith. Keith was dressed in an absurdly grand outt: a smoking jacket, black velvet slippers, a white shirt with large black



scarf. He was wearing several very expensive-looking rings and chains with gold medallions. What lovely owers, he said graciously. Thank you, Dougal. He picked a single bloom from the display and ate it. Hed made a habit of this gag, but it was always very funny. Dearest fans! He bowed as he addressed us, speaking in a very posh English accent. How lovely of you to gather like this. Come, darling He ushered a very pretty blonde girl of about seventeen to an empty seat. My dearest friend Kathy, an actress hoping to make it big in Hollywood, has her birthday on nearly the same day as my own. So this is a joint celebration. At least you could tell when Keith was lying. I smiled at him, but he gazed back at me coolly. Keith turned back to Kathy, poured her wine, settled her chair, showed her the menu and whispered advice to her about what she might choose to eat. She behaved like a spoiled starlet in an old movie. The rest of us talked among ourselves. I relaxed a little after the excellent meal, took up my usual role as Keiths straight man and tapped my glass to propose a toast. Id like to propose a toast, I said loudly. The table had become noisy with much raucous laughter. To Keith! To Kathy! On their birthdays, many happy returns! The assembly eventually stood and repeated the salutation. Keith rose with mock modesty and gestured for everyone to be seated. He surveyed the expectant room, holding his glass, and said, I have a second announcement to make. I am leaving the band, leaving The Who. We all thought Keith was trying to be amusing, but he went on quite seriously. I have been offered a part in a new lm by Marty Scorsese, and I have instructed my agent to accept. He sat down, turned to Kathy and whispered to her conspiratorially. She was giggling. I suddenly felt Keith was taking the joke too far.



Keith, were in the middle of a tour As soon as I said the words, I felt stupid. Keith turned to me. I will full my obligations to this tour, he continued, and then its over. I would ask you to raise your glasses to me, and wish me luck. Kathy, unaware of the gravity of the situation, merrily raised her glass and gazed up at Keith adoringly. She lowered it when she realised that no one else intended to join the toast. I was incensed. What next? I demanded. You eat another ower? My cynical emphasis was on the word ower, but I gestured to Kathy. No! Keith was quite calm. You eat a ower. He gestured at the display. I wasnt going to refuse this challenge. I took a bloom from the display, put it in my mouth and started to chew. Everyone watched me for a few moments, then lost interest. Keith stood judging me; he was an expert ower-eater after all. My throat suddenly began to burn, then swell up, and my breathing became constricted before turning into a kind of noisy death-wheeze. I was allergic to whatever I had put in my mouth, and starting to suffocate. No one seemed to have taken it in but Keith. Suddenly he leapt across the table and looked straight into my face. Whats happening? Im fucking choking, I gasped. Stay calm, he said. Just stay calm. Someone call an ambulance. Hes in trouble. Everyone jumped to their feet, and some people scattered to get help, but before it arrived my throat began to open up a little. Its OK, I wheezed. My throat swelled up, but it seems to be going down again. Fuck! That was scary. I looked up at Keith. I could see the very real concern on his face.



Thanks, I said. Keith settled on his haunches in front of me, watching me recover, making sure I was OK, tears in his eyes. It was suddenly obvious how much he adored me and was frightened for me. He looked thoughtful for a moment. Then he stood up and addressed the room. Champagne! he shouted, with his usual panache. Dom Perignon. 1924. Keith, I spluttered. We dont want to celebrate you leaving The Who. I was winding you up, mate. Trying to impress the lovely Kathy here. Actually, she didnt know who The Who are. Silly bint only knows about Hollywood. Kathy looked from face to face incredulously, as if to say: Are these people crazy?