Pete Townshend and the Who manager Bill Curbishley were honored at the 11th annual MusiCares MAP Fund benefit concert Thursday night at New York’s Best Buy Theater with a special evening of Who music featuring Bruce Springsteen, Joan Jett, Billy Idol, Willie Nile and host Colin Quinn.
“I wouldn’t be windmilling a Fender Telecaster if it weren’t for Pete Townshend,” Springsteen said as he presented Townshend with the Stevie Ray Vaughan award, recalling how his life changed after seeing The Who play in Asbury Park on their first American tour in 1967. “Pete managed to take the dirty business of rock & roll and somehow make it spiritual and turn it into a quest…Pete, I’m here to say, thanks for not just Who’s Next and Who Are You, but who I am.”
After Townshend’s acceptance speech, Springsteen joined The Who on “My Generation,” one of the few Who songs in his live repertoire with the E Street Band. At the end of the night, Springsteen joined nearly everyone from the evening for “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (video below via Mitch Slater). In both instances, he was content to play guitar and leave the majority of the singing to Roger Daltrey and Townshend.
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Other highlights from the evening included Joan Jett barreling through “Summertime Blues” and “I Can’t Explain” with The Who’s touring band, Willie Nile reworking “Substitute,” Roger Daltrey honoring Mose Allison with “Young Man’s Blues” and Billy Idol finding the punk in “Who Are You” and “The Real Me.”
The Who wrap up the first American leg of their 50th anniversary tour on Saturday night at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, New York. They head over to Europe in late June, and then back to America for another round of arena dates in September.
This MusiCares event was one of the very few times that Springsteen and Pete Townshend have shared a stage. Earlier this year, Townshend told Rolling Stone that he hasn’t seen a Springsteen concert in a long time. “I did in the early days, but not anymore,” he said. “It’s a bit of blood and glory for me now.”