Oct 9

Roland Kelts Praises the Who’s Pete Townshend in ‘The New Yorker’

Roland Kelts, left: “When I published my first book, Japanamerica, about the odd synchronicity between two societies, Japanese and American, at once at great odds and suddenly allies, my publisher asked me to send the book to Pete Townshend. He had asked for it, why not give it to him?”

Courtesy of JETAA Northern California’s Mark Frey (Kumamoto-ken, 2002-06):

In a new article by JET alum Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99) on Pete Townshend in The New Yorker, Kelts references his book Japanamerica—of which  Townshend said “I love that book!” to JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi  at an NYC signing yesterday for his new memoir Who I Amat the end of the article and offers some thoughts contrasting the experience of artists in the U.K. and Japan after World War II.

I first met Pete Townshend fifteen years ago in a modest London hotel suite. I was there with my friend Larry David Smith to interview Townshend for Smith’s book, “The Minstrel’s Dilemma.” We were already seated inside when I looked out the first-floor window and saw Townshend pulling into the parking lot.

He arrived alone, sans entourage or fanfare, driving himself in a gray Mercedes station wagon. Minutes later, the knob on the suite door rattled and shook. I stood, thinking that it might be a member of the hotel staff and wondering if I should turn the knob from our side. There was a pause, then more rattling, then the door swung open and Townshend burst through, eyes wide with exertion. He had apparently been trying to pull when he should have pushed.

We were scheduled to meet for two hours, but Townshend was unstoppable, regaling us not with stories of rock debauchery, but a stream of complex, sometimes half-formed ideas about popular culture, history, and human psychology. We were told not to ask him about his failing marriage; he immediately addressed it, confessing to a jolt of sadness while shaving that morning. “Don’t mention Keith Moon,” wrote his personal assistant via fax. “I never properly mourned for Keith,” he soon said, unprompted, and through tears.

For the complete story, click here.

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