Townshend, Pete

Born 19 May 1945, Chiswick, London, England, the son of singer Betty Dennis and respected saxophonist Cliff Townshend. Having served his apprenticeship playing banjo in a dixieland jazz band, Pete joined the Detours as rhythm guitarist. This local attraction, which also featured Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle, was a vital stepping-stone to the formation of the Who. Townshend emerged as leader of this turbulent group by virtue of his compositional skills. Several early songs, notably ‘I Can’t Explain’, ‘The Kids Are Alright’ and ‘My Generation’, encapsulated the trials of adolescence while a virulent guitar-style which eschewed formal style in favour of an aggressive, combative approach, underlined a lyrical anger and frustration. Townshend later expanded his art to embrace character studies (Happy Jack and Dogs), but his songs did not translate well in other hands and singles by the Naturals (‘It Was You’ – reportedly Townshend’s first composition), Oscar (‘Join My Gang’) and the Barron Knights (‘Lazy Fat People’) failed to emulate those of the Who. However, Pete did find success as a producer when ‘Something In The Air’ became a million-seller for Thunderclap Newman and he also assisted manager Kit Lambert with proteges the Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. Townshend began a solo career in 1970 with contributions to ‘Happy Birthday’, a collection devoted to spiritual guru Meher Baba. A second set, ‘I am’, appeared in 1972 and although not intended for public consumption, the albums featured material which also found its way into the Who lexicon. Interest was such that ‘Who came first’, the guitarist’s first official solo release, also drew from this reservoir, and thus reflected a gentler, pastoral side to the artist’s work. Its spirituality and highly personal perspective set the tone for much of Townshend’s later recordings.

Townshend subsequently founded a record label and publishing company, both named Eel Pie, and his solo work did not flourish fully until the release of ‘Empty Glass’ in 1980. Galvanized by punk, the guitarist re-examined his musical roots and emerged with a set both personal and compulsive. ‘Let My Love Open The Door’ reached the US Top 10, while the energetic ‘Rough Boys’ and caustic ‘Jools And Jim’, a sideswipe at contemporary rock press journalists, revealed a strength of purpose missing from concurrent Who recordings. By the early ’80s, his drug and alcohol problems were conquered, which would subsequently lead to a zealous role in anti-drug campaigning.

In 1993, a stage production of Tommy, re-titled The Who’s Tommy, opened on Broadway, and won five Tony Awards. Three years later, Tommy opened in the UK, starring Kim Wilde as Mrs. Walker.


Rock-opera from legendary British band The Who. The project was first announced by band-member Pete Townsend in the leading music magazine Rolling Stone in September 1968. Six months later, the first single ‘Pinball Wizard’ was released, followed by the album ‘Tommy’ in May 1969. The album established The Who as an ‘serious’ album band for the first time. The rock opera about a boy who is deaf, dumb and blind became an important part of their increasingly popular live-shows. In June 1970, however, The Who decided to play the ‘final performance’ of Tommy at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

However, a project this big could only go on. In 1971 a ballet was designed around Tommy, while in 1972 a symphonic recording of Tommy was released. The recording featured the London Symphony Orchestra and special guests like Sandy Denny, Ringo Starr, Rod Stewart and Steve Winwood. Also, in 1975, an all-star performance of ‘Tommy’ is staged at the Rainbow Theatre in London with a.o. David Essex, Peter Sellers and Elkie Brooks.
The Ken Russell movie version of ‘Tommy’ lifts the original recording back into the charts. The soundtrack featured The Who with Elton John, Ronnie Wood, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Jack Nicholson and others.
The first version of a musical is staged in July 1992 at La Jolla Playhouse, California. In April 1993 the Broadway premiere is held. This musical version wins 5 Tony Awards. (1)

After two very successful seasons in America, Tommy opens in the United Kingdom. In this version, Kim Wilde is playing the role of Mrs Walker, Tommy’s mother. The UK version of the musical runs from 5 March 1996 until 8 February 1997 at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London.
During this production, Kim meets Hal Fowler, who plays the role of Tommy’s cousin Kevin.
The UK version of the musical was nominated in 8 different catagories for the Olivier Awards, which were held at Grosvenor House, London, on 16 February 1997.

Kim wasn’t nominated for any of the categories, but the nominations were for:-

Outstanding Musical Production
Best Actor in a Musical (Paul Keating)
Best Supporting Performance in a Musical (James Gillan)
Best Director (Des McAnuff)
Best Theatre Choreographer (Wayne Cliento)
Best Costume Designer (David C Woolard)
Best Lighting Designer (Chris Parry)
Best Set Designer (John Arnone)

In the end, Tommy received three awards at the ceremony. These went to Des McAnuff (Best Director), Chris Parry (Best Lighting Designer) and Des McAnuff & Pete Townsend (Outstanding Musical Production). (3)

Kim about ‘Tommy’

I wanted a job, a regular job. I felt very strongly that I needed some continuity in my life. I wanted to hang out with my friends, see my family and have some kind of routine. More than anything, I wanted to be able to come home every night and sleep in my own bed. (1)

It is a totally new experience for me. I did an audition for the first time of my life. It was a nightmare, I almost died of nerves because I had to sing in front of Pete Townsend, of Who, one of the creators of Tommy. But it all passed very well, and in March, I will be Mrs. Parker (sic), the mother of Tommy, on the stage and our version of the rock opera will be the definitive one. (Laughs) (2)

After I opened Michael Jackson’s 1988 tour for three months and 30 shows, I never thought anything would come close to the euphoria which surrounded that. Then Tommy came along and it has completely blown me away – and much more so than that experience or any other that I’ve had in my career.
I didn’t think about the consequences too much. I think people around me, like my management and my family and my record company, probably thought more about them. But, as soon as they saw the energy that I had to do the project, they all fell in. They all sort of trusted my instincts and my instincts were very strong right away. From the very first moment, I knew I had to be involved with the project. (3)

Interview sources

(1) Marriage, men and Kim… the single-minded success story, Daily Express (UK), 2 December 1995
(2) Kim calms herself, unknown publication (France), 30 December 1995
(3) At her converted 16th-century barn Kim Wilde the pop star speaks of her success in the hit musical Tommy and the new man in her life, Hello! (UK), 1 June 1996

Smash the Mirror

Song written by Pete Townshend. One of the songs in the musical Tommy which Kim Wilde has sung solo.


You don’t answer my call with even a nod or a wink
but you gaze at your own reflection
You don’t seem to see me but I think you can see yourself
How can the mirror affect you?

Can you hear me or do I surmise
That you fear me can you feel my temper
rise, rise, rise, rise….

Do you hear or fear or
Do I smash the mirror
Do you hear of fear or
Do I smash the mirror?

Keating, Paul

Born on 11 March 1976. Paul Keating began acting when he was aged 12, appearing as Gavroche in the London West End production of ‘Les Miserables’. He then went on to play the lead part of Toby Jenks in the Children’s BBC drama series ‘Troublemakers’. Then, after finishing school and working as a shelf shifter at Tesco’s, Paul auditioned for the musical Tommy, eventually getting the title role. He got to play Tommy for almost a year at London’s Shaftesbury Theatre, sharing his dressing room with Kim.

Paul then went on to play Henrik in the musical ‘Assassins’, which opened at London’s New End Theatre on 10 July 1997.
In 2000, Paul Keating surfaced as one of the supporting actors in ‘La Cava’ at the Victoria Palace Theatre. He then starred in the Pet Shop Boy’s debut musical ‘Closer to heaven’ at the Arts Theatre in 2001 as Straight Dave, an Irish barman who sleeps with both boys and girls. This musical only ran for six months.

In 2002 Paul starred in the musical production of ‘The Full Monty’, which ran at Prince of Wales Theatre from March to November 2002. 2004/5 saw Paul playing Prince of Palma in ‘Don Carlos’ by Frederick Schiller in a new version by Mike Poulton at The Crucible Theatre Sheffield and Gielgud Theatre, London. In February 2006 he played Maurice Travis / Jamie Barnes in Gladiator Games by Tanika Gupta at the Theatre Royal Stratford East.

Paul played the lead Seymour in the 2006/7 production of Little Shop of Horrors at the Menier Chocolate Factory. The show was a sell out success and transferred to the West End to the Duke of York’s Theatre and Ambassadors Theatre. The show was nominated for best Musical at the 2008 Olivier awards. In December 2007 Paul played Buttons in Stephen Fry’s Cinderella at the Old Vic Theatre. From 23 October to 29 November 2008, Paul played Jamie in the Leicester Square Theatre’s production of Matthew Todd’s ‘Blowing Whistles’, alongside Stuart Laing and newcomer Daniel Finn. In May 2009, Paul returned to the West End stage in the role of John in the ‘Tick, Tick… Boom!’ revival, part of the Notes From New York season at the Duchess Theatre. He is currently originating the role of the Scarecrow in the new West End production of The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium.

Other credits include: Deadalus in ‘Escape from Pterodactyl Island’ (Pleasance Theatre); Buttons in ‘Cinderella’ (Theatre Royal, Stratford East) and as understudy Jay and Arty in ‘Lost In Yonkers’ (Strand Theatre and UK tour).
Paul has appeared on some television programs such as: Dean Gittar in ‘Metrosexuality’; Ashley Potter in ‘The Ambassador’ (BBC); Frosty in ‘Penpics’ (Channel 4); Adam Mars in ‘The Bill’ (Carlton); Robert in ‘Secret Britain; Prostitutes’ (Channel 4).
His film credits are: Vincenzo Marterana in ‘The Brothers Marterana’; Dean in ‘Heterosexuality’; Apostle in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ (Really Useful Films); Strip in ‘Strip’; Paul Rathbone in ‘Bring Me the Head of Mavis Davis’.

It’s a Boy

Song written by Pete Townsend. During the musical Tommy, this was the first scene in which Kim actually sang. Before that, during the overture, Kim, playing Mrs. Walker, meets Captain Walker and marries him, but she does not actually speak or sing.
In this scene, the nurses sing “It’s a boy, Mrs. Walker”.
Kim joins the nurses around her when they sing “A son”.


Nurse: It’s a boy, Mrs. Walker, it’s a boy
It’s a boy, Mrs. Walker, it’s a boy
Kim & nurses: A son! A son! A son!

I Believe My Own Eyes

Song written by Pete Townshend. Act 2, scene 4 of the musical Tommy contains this song, as well as Smash the Mirror and ‘I’m Free’.
Kim (as Mrs. Walker) is joined by Alistair Robbins (Mr. Walker) when she sings this song.
They also performed this song during the BBC program Pebble Mill on 2 February 1996, before the opening night of the musical.


This can’t continue
It makes no sense
we’re getting nowhere
I’ve lost all my confidence
The boy wants something
He needs attention
and care our love can’t provide

And then, there’s the matter of us

I’d like to prove
that I don’t think you’ve seen the best of me
I’ve stood up for the boy
and I’ve clung to the hopes and the lies

I wished that the pain in your gaze
could again be a test of me
but when I look in the mirror
I believe my own eyes

I believe my own eyes
Now I’ve come to the end
All my patience is gone
When I’m doubtful I tend
to believe my own eyes

I’d like to declare
This devotion and care is a life to live
That nothing has changed
and the time isn’t passing us by
But I have to say here
that for us there is a clear-cut alternative
When we look at eachother
We believe our own eyes

I believe my own eyes
Now I’ve come to the end
All my patience is gone
When I’m doubtful I tend
To believe my own eyes

This has gone far enough
after all we’ve been through
We can be brave
We done all we can humanly do
It’s a time to be tough
A time to be wise
We must stop chasing our dreams and recover our lives

I believe my own eyes
Now I’ve come to the end
All my patience is gone
When I’m doubtful I tend
To believe…

I’d like to believe
But I don’t think that we’ve seen the best of us
And a way to believe is to see where the real future lies
I hope that the pain in your gaze can again be a test of me
and when I look in the mirror
I believe my own eyes

Let’s believe our own eyes
No we’ve come to the end
All our patience is gone
Let’s admit we intend to believe our own eyes

… to believe our own eyes

Afternoon live

14 January 1997

Interview in the daytime program ‘Afternoon live’, starting with a clip from the theatre show ‘Tommy’. Interviewed by Bibi Baskin, Kim talks about the beginning of her career and how being the daughter of a famous father affected her.
The interview then focuses on ‘Tommy’ and of course meeting her husband, Hal, and concludes with Kim announcing that she would like to have a baby, ‘imminently’.

1 to 3

1 October 1996
Sky (UK)

Interview with Kim about her performance in Tommy, her new single ‘Shame’ and her marriage, and how it has affected her life.


1 May 1996
UK Living (UK)

Interview with Kim Wilde in her dressing room at Shaftesbury Theatre during her female lead role in the musical Tommy. She tells all about what it’s like working in the musical world and what it was like to tour with Michael Jackson.

Showbiz Today

7 March 1996

Three short clips from the musical ‘Tommy’ are shown: ‘Pinball wizard’, ‘Smash the mirror’ (featuring Kim) and ‘Tommy can you hear me’.

The Big Breakfast

6 March 1996
Channel 4 (UK)

Report of the opening night of Tommy, including interviews with Pete Townshend, Paul Keating and Kim Wilde. A few scenes of ‘Tommy’ are also shown.


1 March 1996

Short interview with Kim Wilde and Alistair Robbins, after which they perform ‘I believe my own eyes’ live in the studio.