Pete Townshend Says ‘My Generation Misused Power’
The Who guitarist Pete Townshend said the hippie generation found a form of social power but “misused” it, and added he feared it could all happen again.
He recalled growing up in an era where young people felt “disenfranchised” before discovering their own type of expression, but argued that they’d gone on to waste much of the energy they released.
“My generation felt disenfranchised. That is a complex word for feeling like we had nothing to live for,” Townshend told The Big Issue in a new interview. “It made us not so much angry as loose. We were loose-living. And when psychedelic drugs and, more importantly, the pill came along, away we went. Then we took power.”
He said he thinks "we misused the power to a great extent. The hippie era could have turned into something much better than it did. We are seeing something not dissimilar now – Glastonbury was great this year, with Stormzy, who has not even turned 30, singing about politics and emancipation. But we could make the same mistake again.”
Townshend also recalled late bandmate Keith Moon’s habit of throwing TVs out hotel windows. “I would look at Keith Moon and go, ‘What a fucking prat. What a waste of time.' … Two or three times I did the same thing, and I would think, ‘What a fucking prat. ... Getting into auto-destruction was straight out of art college. People still say that I should never have smashed instruments. Fuck off. It is how I got you to listen to me.”
He reflected that part of the problem stemmed from his generation being born just after the World War II and, as a result, found themselves unable to connect with the previous generation. “We were carrying a frustration that we couldn’t be a part of the victory, we couldn’t be a part of the celebrations, but also couldn’t console our elders to whom we were incredibly grateful,” he said.