Pete Townshend: A Fond, Fatherly Look at "Tommy's" Big Apple Return

Pete Townshend: A Fond, Fatherly Look at “Tommy’s” Big Apple Return

Pete Townshend, the iconic guitarist behind The Who, isn’t just witnessing the return of “Tommy” to Broadway – he’s beaming like a proud parent.

This rock opera, a cornerstone of The Who’s legacy and Townshend’s own artistic journey, is back on the Great White Way after a 30-year hiatus.

Pete Townshend: A Fond, Fatherly Look at “Tommy’s” Big Apple Return

Townshend, ever the self-deprecating rocker, admits to a touch of exhaustion with “Tommy.” “I’ve said so much about it,” he laughs in a recent interview, “sometimes I chuck stuff out just to sound clever.”

Yet, the return to Broadway brings a different kind of energy – a validation perhaps, and a chance to see his early exploration of childhood trauma and self-discovery resonate with a new generation.

Pete Townshend: A Fond, Fatherly Look at "Tommy's" Big Apple Return

This isn’t just a revival. Des McAnuff, the original director who brought “Tommy” to Broadway in 1993, is back at the helm, offering a fresh take while preserving the core. Townshend himself seems to relish this collaborative spirit.

News outlets captured him jamming with the cast on the “Tonight Show,” a playful reminder that the music, even these decades-old songs, still holds an electric charge.

There’s a hint of melancholy too. Townshend acknowledges the toll “Tommy” has taken, the emotional excavation that went into crafting its raw exploration of pain and redemption. But it’s a bittersweet melancholy, tinged with pride.

“Tommy” may have been his artistic child, but it’s a child that’s grown into its own legacy, a testament to the enduring power of rock and roll storytelling.

About Pete Townshend

Pete Townshend: A Fond, Fatherly Look at "Tommy's" Big Apple Return

Here’s a rundown on Pete Townshend:

The Who Legend:

  • Co-founder, guitarist, and songwriter for The Who, one of the most influential rock bands of the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Known for his aggressive playing style and poetic lyrics.
  • Wrote over 100 songs for The Who, including classics like “Pinball Wizard,” “Baba O’Riley,” and “Behind Blue Eyes.”

Creative Force:

  • Principal songwriter for The Who, crafting concept albums like the groundbreaking rock opera Tommy and Quadrophenia.
  • Pioneered the use of feedback in rock guitar.

Beyond The Who:

  • Launched a solo career after The Who disbanded, releasing well-received albums.
  • Ventured into writing and publishing.


  • Considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time.
  • Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with The Who.
  • “Tommy” continues to be a cultural touchstone, with a recent return to Broadway.

The Who’s “Tommy” returns to Broadway


One can’t help but imagine Townshend watching a performance, a smile etched on his face as the iconic chords of “Pinball Wizard” or “See Me, Feel Me” fill the theater. It’s not just a rock opera returning to Broadway.

It’s a father witnessing the enduring relevance of his creation, a testament to the universality of the human experience, writ large in power chords and soaring vocals.

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