Pete Townshend Recalls Inspiration For ‘Baba O’Riley’


With the 50th anniversary of the Who's 1971 masterpiece Who's Next coming up this month, Pete Townshend looked back on the album's iconic opening track, "Baba O'Riley."

Townshend told Guitar Player, "'Baba O' Riley' is about the absolute devastation of teenagers at Woodstock, where everybody was smacked out on acid and 20 people, or whatever, had brain damage. The contradiction was that it became a celebration: "Teenage wasteland! Yes! We're All wasted!"

Townshend said he still rates Who's Next as a highpoint in the band's career: "I was delighted with it. It felt like the Who's first proper album. It felt uncomplicated and simple and I just didn't care that the story had been lost. I was just relieved to have made anything."

Legendary producer Jack Douglas, who engineered the early New York City Who's Next sessions at the Record Plant recalled, "Pete was in charge of the production. He could drive the band nuts with his directions but also really got them ripping when they tracked, He would especially concentrate off whipping up Keith (Moon), because he realized the band actually took its energy cues from Keith. The energy level was so up there that many of the solos on the record were done in on pass during the tracking sessions. It really kept the trio sound together."

Author Mark Blake explained to us how the Who — who were initially based around Mod stylistic briefs and Pete Townshend's art school concepts — eventually changed course as the realities of a life in music came fully into play, forcing Townshend to become a leading musical force far more important than his original influences: [“I think once they started to have hit records and started to appear on TV, I think that’s the point, if you like, where it got compromised. It’s not the big art experiment anymore, it’s obvious that this is now what he does and he becomes a kind of pop star. And I think over time he became more and more. . .  his confidence grew, and I suspect the idea that the Who would be a kind of artistic experiment just starts to fade into the background and it becomes a business.”] SOUNDCUE (:26 OC: . . . becomes a business)

Mark Blake On The Who Becoming A Hit Act :