.

Pete Townshend Calls Apple a 'Digital Vampire'

Also: Update on possible 'Quadrophenia' tour

November 1, 2011 11:15 AM ET
pete townshend
Pete Townshend performs onstage during 'A Concert For Killing Cancer' at Hammersmith Apollo in London.
Gareth Cattermole/WireImage

Pete Townshend referred to Apple as a "digital vampire" that is "bleeding" artists and "destroying copyright as we know it" while delivering the inaugural John Peel Lecture in Salford, England yesterday. He attacked music fans who illegally download music, saying they "may as well come and steal my son's bike while they're at it… I wonder what has gone wrong with human morality and social justice." 

The Who guitarist acknowledged that he is an imperfect messenger for these sentiments. "It's tricky to argue for the innate value of copyright from a position of good fortune, as I do," he said. "I've done all right… A creative person would prefer their music to be stolen and enjoyed than ignored. This is the dilemma for every creative soul – he or she would prefer to starve and be heard than to eat well and be ignored."

In other Who news, the group is releasing a deluxe edition of their 1973 rock opera Quadrophenia on November 15th. Though there is talk of launching a Quadrophenia tour next year, in a recent fan interview Townshend said that idea is still up in the air. "I think Roger [Daltrey] feels he is now too old to be identified with Jimmy as a young man," Townshend wrote. "But I have always felt we are merely performing Jimmy’s story, telling it for him, really. Roger is giving this some very deep thought while he takes his solo version of Tommy around the world. I may get bored of waiting. But to be fair, Roger once used to get bored of waiting for me... He’s having fun, I think. That has to be cool."

Townshend also responded to a fan question about whether or not he plans to tour solo again. "I’m 66," he said. "I like to look back at when I was young and I worked like a dog so I could put my feet up when I was 66. I may perform some solo shows (I plan to perform a short acoustic set for the Prince’s Trust this year), but I doubt I would ever tour unless I was starving. So pray for me to starve. Then I’ll have to tour."

Finally, Townshend was asked if he'd ever considered going on an acoustic tour of small venues with Roger Daltrey where they would play stripped-down versions of Who songs. "No, I haven’t," he said. "I don’t like working with Roger in this way, though I know fans enjoy it. I feel as if I am merely accompanying Roger in that context, because he likes to play guitar himself and reinterpret my songs in a new way acoustically, in his own way. I do that myself, of course, and as individuals it works for both of us... But when we stand together, I think the music demands to be honored in the way it was born, and I feel uneasy when Roger starts to loosen up songs like 'Who Are You' or 'Behind Blue Eyes.' But only when I’m trying to play with him. As a solo artist he has the right to do anything he likes."

One other important point, Townshend said. "Roger and I, for all our new alliances and rekindled friendship, do not share great intimacy as performers. We work on different levels. Roger looks out to the back rows, I look down to the front. We rarely catch each other’s eye." 

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