Pete Townshend‘s long-awaited memoir Who He? is finally going to see the light of day. The Who guitarist has inked a deal with HarperCollins to release the book, which the publisher says will hit shelves in the fall of 2012. “In the 1970s, Pete Townshend famously asked the musical question ‘Who are you?’” Harper Collins executive editor David Hirshey said in a statement. “Now, in his autobiography, generations of fans will finally get the answer they’ve been waiting for.”
Townshend began working on his autobiography in the mid-1990s. When he was cautioned by the British Police in 2003 for accessing child pornography on the Internet, Townshend explained that he was researching material for the book. “I have been writing my childhood autobiography for the past seven years,” he said in a written statement. “I believe I was sexually abused between the age of five and six and a half when in the care of my maternal grandmother who was mentally ill at the time. I cannot remember clearly what happened, but my creative work tends to throw up nasty shadows – particularly in Tommy. Some of the things I have seen on the net have informed my book which I hope will be published later this year.”
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There was no further word about the book at the time, but four years later Townshend began a blog with plans of posting segments of it online. “The backbone is complete, all the research is in place,” Townshend wrote. “And yet, because my creative and professional life is still so active, I feel I will never catch up with the present unless I retire simply to write. To retire, simply to write, when I am already a writer, presents a contradiction. So rather than endlessly write, I am going to publish.”
He published a fascinating account of the day that the Who previewed Tommy for critics in 1969 at a London jazz club, but soon afterwards he shut the site down with little explanation. In September of 2008 he wrote on his website that the book was “on ice.” There’s been little word on it since.
The Who have been off the road since they toured Australia in 2009. Last year they played halftime at the Super Bowl, as well as staging Quadrophenia for charity at the Royal Albert Hall. Roger Daltrey expressed interest in bringing that show – as well as Tommy – on a world tour this year. A few weeks ago, the Who frontman announced an extensive solo tour where he’ll play Tommy straight though. What exactly that means for the future of the Who remains unclear. One year ago, Townshend expressed a reluctance to return to the road. “I’m tired of touring at the moment, and I’m writing,” he said. “So there are no plans right now.” In that same interview, a fan asked Townshend about touring Tommy in 2019 to celebrate the album’s 50th anniversary. “If we wait until 2019 one thing I can assure you: I will not be on stage,” he wrote. “I will either be composing or decomposing.”