Who I Am by Pete Townshend
A Memoir

76%

24 Critic Reviews

He pulls few punches in this exhaustingly detailed read, even though it doesn't always paint him in the most flattering light.
-LA Times

Synopsis

From the voice of a generation: The most highly anticipated autobiography of the year, and the story of a man who... is a Londoner and a Mod.... wanted The Who to be called The Hair.... loved The Everly Brothers, but not that "drawling dope" Elvis.... wanted to be a sculptor, a journalist, a dancer and a graphic designer.... became a musician, composer, librettist, fiction writer, literary editor, sailor.... smashed his first guitar onstage, in 1964, by accident.... heard the voice of God on a vibrating bed in rural Illinois.... invented the Marshall stack, feedback and the concept album.... once speared Abbie Hoffman in the neck with the head of his guitar.... inspired Jimi Hendrix's pyrotechnical stagecraft.... is partially deaf in his left ear.... stole his windmill guitar playing from Keith Richards.... followed Keith Moon off a hotel balcony into a pool and nearly died.... did too much cocaine and nearly died.... drank too much and nearly died.... detached from his body in an airplane, on LSD, and nearly died.... helped rescue Eric Clapton from heroin.... is banned for life from Holiday Inns.... was embroiled in a tabloid scandal that has dogged him ever since.... has some explaining to do.... is the most literary and literate musician of the last 50 years.... planned to write his memoir when he was 21.... published this book at 67.

 

About Pete Townshend

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Pete Townshend is the legendary frontman for The Who, one of the most influential bands of all time. Townshend is responsible for having written over 100 songs and rock operas in the band's important catalogue. The Who's first album, My Generation, went Gold in the UK, and eight more have gone gold and platinum on either side of the Atlantic. Townshend is one of Rolling Stone magazine's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. Away from music, he has also written essays for Rolling Stone, and in 2005 published the novella The Boy Who Heard Music. He lives in London, England.
 
Published October 8, 2012 by Harper. 753 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Arts & Photography, Humor & Entertainment, Self Help. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Oct 28 2012
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Who I Am
All: 24 | Positive: 18 | Negative: 6

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Robert Christgau on Oct 26 2012

...understandable ambition illuminates a lot about Pete Townshend. But of course, he has never achieved it, much less conveyed such sublimity to the rest of us — not even when he somehow came up with “See me feel me touch me heal me.”

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Oct 08 2012

He proves equally engaging as a sort of rock historian, describing the musical landscape in Britain in the early 1960s, when rock exploded on the scene.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Simon Garfield on Nov 04 2012

This is a worthwhile, comprehensive and culturally valuable account of a life, but its solidity is slightly enervating; it's no celebration machine.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Dorian Lynskey on Oct 09 2012

Most rock memoirs run out of gas once the classic songs dry up and the major crises have been overcome, but Townshend's life after sobering up and splitting the Who in 1982 was never dull.

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Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Peter Roche on Dec 28 2012

Few names in rock have made as bold an impact on music—and across as many platforms—as Townshend, whose candid tell-all we may add to his other accomplishments (theater, rock opera, engineering, editing, production, etc.).

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AV Club

Below average
Reviewed by Jason Heller on Nov 05 2012

Still, there’s nothing profoundly revelatory about it. Townshend will always reign as one of rock’s foremost storytellers, and while Who I Am is inspired in spots and solid overall, it’s far less epic than the music that informs it.

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Entertainment Weekly

Excellent
Reviewed by Jason Adams on Oct 26 2012

At least when it comes to emotional honesty, Townshend is, thankfully, anything but deaf, dumb, and blind.

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LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Joe Flint on Oct 15 2012

He pulls few punches in this exhaustingly detailed read, even though it doesn't always paint him in the most flattering light.

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The Independent

Below average
Reviewed by D TAYLOR on Oct 13 2012

For all its candour, Who I Am has to be filed under "missed opportunity".

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The Telegraph

Below average
Reviewed by Lewis Jones on Oct 22 2012

The main difficulty with this book...is more one of personality.

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The Boston Globe

Excellent
Reviewed by Geoff Edgers on Oct 11 2012

In his memoir, he digs deeply into his troubled past, which includes drug abuse, infidelity...

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Express

Below average
Reviewed by Terry Staunton on Oct 28 2012

...once The Who are established as a major force in the rock world Townshend’s story becomes more scattergun and episodic.

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Denver Post

Below average
Reviewed by Louis Bayard on Nov 11 2012

That guy has grown up, of course, and has become by his own testimony "a mouse, albeit a mouse with mood swings." So he didn't die before he got old, but it might have been better if the book had

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Tampa Bay Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Sean Daly on Nov 04 2012

And yet, in Who I Am, a gargantuan memoir written with all manner of fever-dream angst and gray-cloud recall, the 67-year-old Townshend comes off as a deeply tormented Brit...

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The Daily Beast

Excellent
Reviewed by Abby Haglage on Oct 08 2012

It’s a pulsating, raw, and painful account of a tumultuous rise to musical stardom.

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Breitbart

Excellent
Reviewed by Brad Schaeffer on Nov 04 2012

...no one knows what it’s like to be the bad man, to be the sad man, behind blue eyes. But thanks to "Who I Am," now we know at least a little.

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Literary Kicks

Above average
Reviewed by Rob Sheffield on Oct 11 2012

After all his years of musical confessions, Pete Townshend still has secrets to get off his chest. And in Who I Am, he finally lets loose. His long-awaited memoir is intensely intimate, candid to the point of self-lacerating. It's a rock god opening up his most human frailties.

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Rolling Stone

Excellent
Reviewed by Rob Sheffield on Sep 28 2012

His long-awaited memoir is intensely intimate, candid to the point of self-lacerating.

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Montreal Gazette

Excellent
Reviewed by Bernard Perusse on Oct 30 2012

...it’s surprisingly linear and plainspoken. Given Townshend’s lifelong tendency toward verbosity and overthinking...the straightforwardness was hard to foresee.

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Rock Cellar Magazine

Excellent
Reviewed by Paul Gleason on Oct 24 2012

But, having finished Who I Am, an amazing journey through Pete’s mind and art...

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American Songwriter

Excellent
Reviewed by Henry Carrigan on Nov 09 2012

However, the details of Townshend’s life are just a backdrop for his poignant, movingly written, and unrelenting self-reflection about life, love, music, family, and death.

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Spin

Excellent
Reviewed by David Marchese on Oct 10 2012

Despite all that his music career has taken from Townshend...Who I Am radiates with his belief in the power of the music to which he devoted his life.

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Westfield Patch

Excellent
Reviewed by Brad Schaeffer on Nov 29 2012

It is written by a flesh and blood man, who is as open and honest about his many faults and failings as he is genuinely modest about his success.

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Everyday eBook

Good
Reviewed by Rita Jacobs on Oct 29 2012

As you read the last word, you will find yourself cheering what appears to be...Townshend’s long-sought achievement of artistic and emotional fulfillment – he knows who he is.

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Reader Rating for Who I Am
75%

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