Plus the future of The Who, memories of Moon and Entwistle and his rocky relationship with Roger Daltrey
Do you see a point where you’ll retire?
I might do a Peter Blake and retire from making money. That’s what he did, about ten years ago. “I’m retiring, but I’m not retiring from painting. I’m retiring from painting in order to make a living.”
Robert Wyatt has announced his retirement…
… Has he? That’s a pain in the arse. I love his albums…
… And Clapton told Uncut last year, “The road has become unbearable.”
Yeah, but he sold his Gerard Richter for $40 million so he can keep his yacht for a couple more years. I don’t know. It’s not just about money. I know what Eric means, but… there’s two different things. There’s retiring from touring and retiring from performing and the road.
Are you saying that The Who are retiring from touring; but that’s not the same as retiring from performing or releasing new music?
Or travelling in order to perform. That’s correct. If Roger and I wanted to do a series of shows in Paris for some reason, we would get on a plane and do. I just think what we probably won’t do is what we’ve just done. Which is sell 65 shows to AEG so they take the burden of organising it and we just show up. It’s a bit like being in the army.
Do you think the best is yet to come?
Yeah. But I think the decisions that I have to make at this age… It would be easy to do an Eric and say, “I know the answer. I should stop touring. But I did that when I left The Who in 1982. Faber was a wonderful job, but I was only getting £7,000 a year. None of my books did that well. So I think having tried that, I thought, ‘The worst thing you can do is make a blanket statement.’ A couple of times in the last 15 years, I’ve said to Roger, “I really don’t want to do any more major touring.” He said, “Well, Pete. This is not about me. You keep changing your fucking mind. So what I recommend is, don’t make any announcements. Keep it in your head.’ It’s good advice.
Going back to Quadrophenia. What do you think Jimmy would make of Pete Townshend, age 70?
There are a few Jimmys out there. I think the elegance of it is that we don’t know what happens to Jimmy, you leave it to the audience. Did he jump off, did he not? This leads quite a people to see themselves as having tremendous propriety over Quadrophenia. They want to finish itself. Bill Curbishley is one of those. I think Roger might be one of those, too. I hear what they think of me, which is not particularly good. “Let me take Jimmy into Chapter 2, you cunt…” As a creative individual, I flirted with my audience, which is not what I wanted to do at all. Of course, the audience have the right – and other writers and creative people have the right – to take Jimmy and do whatever they like with him. That’s really how I wanted to deal with this. To be able to freely license everything that I’ve done to other people and other creatives to do what they will. Because I know it will happen when I die. I may as well start now.
Classic Quadrophenia is out now on Deutsche Grammophon