Pete Townshend said the Who didn’t make money from most of their albums as a result of theft by their managers, especially during their first eight years of making records.

The guitarist also recalled one of his final meetings with Jimi Hendrix, when they talked about being the victims of illegal activities.

In a recent interview with NME, Townshend was asked if it made financial sense for established bands to record new albums. “It’s never been about the money,” he replied with a laugh.

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He continued: “The Who never made any money from fucking records anyway. Our managers were criminals. I’d never seen a Who royalty statement prior to our first audit, which we did while we were making [sixth album] Quadrophenia. It emerged that [manager] Kit Lambert had stolen all of my Italian publishing royalties to buy himself a palace in Venice.”

He observed: “There are black swans in our business, and they’re the ones that always mop up all the money.” That led him to share an anecdote about catching up with Hendrix in L.A. a few weeks before his death in 1970.

“He was happy – he was really nice to me, and he hadn’t always been in the past,” Townshend recalled. “I said, ‘How you doing?’ and he said, ‘Pete, I’m broke.’ He was huge, and he was broke. [But] we didn’t give a fuck about the money.

“I lived in a little house in Twickenham by the Thames, I was happy to be by the water. I had one car. I had a tiny little studio. I was really happy. I had a beautiful wife, lovely kids, great friends and never wanted for anything, really, except some time to myself and some time to have with my family. So today I’ve got a sense that I’m lucky to be here and be fit enough to walk around the block and to work with younger musicians, to do some producing and mentoring.”

Pete Townshend’s Stealthy Idea for A New Who Album

Naturally, Townshend was asked about the prospect of another Who album – and while he doubted it would happen, he revealed a stealthy idea he’d had to push the issue with bandmate Roger Daltrey, who’s previously said he regards his studio career as effectively over.

“If there was a need or a place for a Who album, could I write the songs for it within six weeks? Of course I fucking could – it’s a piece of cake,” he said. “For me it would be a joy because I love writing songs, I love writing to a brief, I love having a commission, I love having a deadline and I love the feedback.”

Expressing pleasure at the way their last record was received, he continued: “[A]t the moment … I’m thinking I might write the songs and then say to Roger, ‘Either you sing on them or I’m gonna put them out as a solo album and Who fans will love me for it.’”

The Who Albums Ranked

Half of the Who's studio albums are all classics, essential records from rock's golden age. But where should you start?

Gallery Credit: Michael Gallucci

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