During a conversation with the Toronto Sun, The Who guitarist Pete Townshend discussed the band’s impact and influence on the rock genre as whole, also claiming that they “sort of invented heavy metal”.
The Who officially released their new album Who earlier this month as their first full-length studio effort in 13 years. Saying that the new material “doesn’t sound like The Who from those early heavy metal years,” Pete Townshend added:
“We sort of invented heavy metal with [1970 live album] Live at Leeds. We were copied by so many bands, principally by Led Zeppelin, you know, heavy drums, heavy bass, heavy lead guitar and some of those bands, like Jimi Hendrix for example, did it far better than we did.
“Cream, with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, they came along in ’67, same year as Jimi Hendrix, and they kind of stole our mantle in a sense.
“So people who want to hear that old heavy metal sound there are plenty of bands that can provide it. So it’s not really what we can actually do today. Even if we wanted to, it was never high on my list of wishes.”
Still discussing the band’s influence, Townshend said The Who also made an impact on the punk scene, explaining:
“We mustn’t forget that the Sex Pistols were playing two or three Who songs in their set when they first broke in London. It was another echo.”
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“Electronic-ambient music and electronic artists. They’re home studio producers. So there’s that feeling that I get, a pride, that I started the tradition of the home studio.
“I inspired it. I was probably the first rock and pop performer to have their own studio and I worked with developing equipment for home studios, to miniaturizing it, to make it smaller so it would fit into the domestic environment.
“But when I communicate with those guys, they can appear to be a bit nerdy, they so get excited because they regard The Who as being one of the revolutionary synthesizer bands as well.”
Listen to ‘I Can’t Explain’ by The Who Live At Leeds