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Simon Townshend was born with music in his blood, the son of England’s top big-band reed man, Cliff Townshend, and younger brother of The Who legend Pete Townshend, Simon has been recording and performing since the age of nine, when he was recruited to add vocals to The Who classic Tommy.
Although the Townshend name is familiar, Simon’s music has its own original sound and his song writing, plunders great depths and reruns with unique compelling narratives set against haunting melodies. Simon has a strong loyal fan base which includes a number of fellow musicians such as Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam), who has followed Simon since his 1983 release ‘I Am The Answer’.
Simon, a multi instrumentalist and singer, has released 8 acclaimed solo albums and one with the band Casbah Club (featuring Bruce Foxton/The Jam & Mark Brzezicki/Big Country), these all on his US label Stir Records.
Simon has now launched his own label in the UK, Stir Records and will be releasing re mastered versions of his last two US releases, LOOKING OUT LOOKING IN and DENIAL with bonus tracks, later in 2016. Both these albums, well received when originally released in the US, contain some of Simon’s most personal and inspirational work to date.
In addition to his own music, Simon has been guitarist and vocalist in The Who since 1996, playing sold out tours around the world, including monumental performances at the 2010 Super Bowl and the closing ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics.
Simon, referred to by one U.S. newspaper as The Who’s “secret weapon”, was an integral part of the 2012/2013 Who’s Quadrophenia and More Tour, playing guitar, supplying backing vocals and taking the lead on “Dirty Jobs” every night.
In 2004 Simon served as producer for The Who’s first new, original studio recordings in more than 20 years and contributed his talents to their 2006 album Endless Wire. Simon has also performed with numerous other established acts ranging from Jeff Beck to Pearl Jam and Dave Grohl. He continues to work closely with Roger Daltrey and elder brother Pete on a variety of projects.
Eric: You grew up with music constantly playing in your house – from your parents to your brother. I’ve always thought that when music in the household all the time when you’re a kid it cannot not affect you.
Simon: Well, I thought I couldn’t have done anything else in that way. I could’ve understand music instead of something that I took to toward to, and it was school that some of my friends hardly understood that I loved music so much. Where I grew up is full house of music, it was kind of we had a music room with a pianos, drums, and other instruments that my brother Paul has used, who is 4 years older than I am. My mom was a singer, and my dad was a saxophone player. All my dad’s friends were musicians. All my friends wanted to be musicians, even my brother Paul’s friends. So that house full of music all the time, and for me, I couldn’t see any other than music being a life full of me.
Eric: Were there any other options for you? Any other subjects at school you were interested in?
Simon: I tried soccer for a while, but I was great until I played in a serious game at the playoff. I was substituted one of the players and put me on. I just stood there and watched where the ball was going.
Eric: Every kid has to play football when they’re growing up.
Simon: Yes, it was compulsory. I actually had a big opportunity. I went up along and they put me on a pitch. It was so quick. I didn’t know what was going on, and they actually took me off again!
Eric: Did it ever be a problem being the brother of Pete? Did others put more pressure on you than maybe even you thought you were capable of?
Simon: I suppose people did expect a bit more. What it may have done is opened the doors, but it may have done the same with their expectations. I feel that all the royals, the whole generation of pop as I was sort of growing through my mid teens, who were growling in that popularity, but still wanting to become more and more famous. I was 9-years-old, when Tommy came out. When I was 11-years-old, The Who’s Who’s Next album came out, which both were landmark records, and I sort of grew up with it. I just sort of grew up alongside it. I was in my 20s doing my first album, and Pete actually produced for me. It was only then I realized it in some respects how huge the The Who were, because we went out over to America, Pete came to promote with me, and it’s like huge massiveness.
Eric: For the new album, Denial, do you know where you are wanting to go once you get into the studio? How do you approach the studio now?
Simon: I normally do demos of my songs before I take them into bigger studio. I normally have an outline, sketch or some kind. A quick recording on a mini-recorder or phone, or proper demos made just before. Sometimes you get inspired you write or you sometimes could create live performances or tracks to use as an outline track to play live. If I could, I go into the studio with a drummer and bass player and just kept stuff. It’s kind of you write songs from scratch yourself, then you want to be alone in control. Then you start with basics tunes in the studio.
Eric: You don’t really collaborate with other songwriters. All of your work is really all of you.
Simon: Yeah. I’ve tried that. Less of me in songs with people. It doesn’t really work. I kind of love putting personal stuff and I don’t know if it works trying to collaborate with so much fictional ideas I come up with. It’s something normally inspired from me and gets me going in the first place.
Eric: You go into those stories and happenings of real people in Denial. They are about people that are in your life. Do you have to go to those people and ask permission before putting their story on the album? I’m thinking of the song Saving Grace. On your CD cover, you acknowledged a family member named Grace. The line, “She’s a daisy, a daisy grown from seed,” is about your son’s daughter who unfortunately passed away.
Simon: Yeah, exactly. I suppose I did in some respect, but I spoke to my son, Ben. I played him in a solo and I called him up that I played him in an album. “Saving Grace” is a song about his daughter, unfortunately, she died at 14 weeks. It’s something you have to think about. It’s difficult. Most of the same person experiences, more applied to me. But the ones about other people you would try to make it clear before it gets out to the public.
Eric: Are your solo tour dates based on The Who’s dates when they have a day off or two? That has to be the best of both worlds – you get to hang with your family, play a stadium show, and your own show at the same city.
Simon: Yeah, I love to play in a club. It is very nice, the best of both worlds. Roger Daltry was quite ill last year, but he’s back in good health now. It’s tough on the voice for him. Roger is expecting to deliver being Roger night after night. In the end, the tour we lost him for awhile. We have a bit more days off in-between shows for him to recover. Another show, then another couple days off. When we were in New York, we had 3 days off. It means he can regroup, get back to full voice readiness. And I think the way we planned for Roger is perfect. But it means I get more time off, which works really well for my solo gigs.
Eric: have you ever been hit head by Roger’s microphone on stage?
Simon: No, I haven’t actually. But I came extremely close. So much so, he shouted at me. He shouted he didn’t want to kill anyone!
Roger Daltry, The Who singer speaking in a recent edition of MOJO ’60s explains that though they may have been worlds apart in terms of volume, the band owe their existence to the skiffle explosion.
“Every young person could make music – even people with no melody in them, no sense of pitch – could make some kind of noise with a washboard, a tea chest and a broomstick for a bass,” he explains of the original DIY genre in Volume 4 of our decade-spanning spin-off magazine.
“Music became very communal and every street would have a skiffle group. The original nucleus of The Who grew out of Percy Road in Shepherd’s Bush. We used to pretend we were Johnny Kidd And The Pirates. We were a substitute for other guys. That was our purpose. They couldn’t see the real deal but they’d come and see us doing it.”
This is part 55 of an ongoing series where the kind folk of the music business reveal their favourite album of all time.
Ask people in the music industry the seemingly simple and straightforward question, “What is your favourite album of all time?” and you’ll find that it’s not always easy. After all, my industry peers listen to hundreds of albums a month and thousands of songs during that time. Because the question isn’t the best album of all time or the one that’s made them the most money in sales, or the most clicked-on review, but the one release they personally can’t live without, that one title they have two copies of in several formats, in case one breaks. It’s also about that album that for them has the best back stories and the one that has the most meaning in their lives.
Fred Faour, KFNC 97.5, Houston, Texas
Guns N’ Roses, Appetite for Destruction
This seems like a simple question, but in truth, it was almost impossible to answer. So much of what makes great music comes from our personal experiences. We connect with artists at points in time and milestones in our life that help define us. Such was the case with Appetite. My own music career had ended and I was on to the real world, wondering why I never made it. Then from the first chords of Mr. Brownstone I understood what true brilliance really was. From the intricacy and depths of the guitar rifts to Axl Rose’s screeching range, the album spoke to me about addiction, ennui and pure energy. The massive mainstream hits overshadowed the overall quality of every song from start to finish. With each one, you knew what it was within two or three notes. It reminded me that music at its very best is an art form unmatched in our society, and is to be appreciated and praised. Not all of us can create art at that level, but we can all share in its magic. And that’s what this album is to me: Pure magic.
Kevin Oschefski, Program Director/ Morning Host, KiSS 100.5, North Bay, ON
Kathleen Edwards, Failer
Simplistic, brilliant and heartbreaking. I first heard Kathleen’s full length debut back in 2003 when a record rep dropped off a stack of CDs at the radio station I was working at. I grabbed a copy and barely one track in I was hooked. Songs like “Hockey Skates”, “Mercury” and “Westby” made me an instant fan. In fact one of the biggest thrills for me, was visiting Quitter’s coffee shop in Stittsville last summer. Kathleen owns it. I dropped by several times, CD in hand, hoping to meet Miss Edwards herself. I finally did, and though at a loss for words, my wife walked me over and introduced us. It was my last “fanboy” moment.
Drew Garabo, Host, 102.5, Tampa Bay, FLA
Beastie Boys, Check Your Head
On it, Adams Horowitz and Yauch joined with Michael Diamond to create a magical blend of rap, funk, and punk. They started playing their own instruments and added keyboardist Money Mark to the mix. Songs like Pass the Mic, So Whatcha Want, Professor Booty, and The Maestro resonated in the hearts and minds of their multitude of devoted fans, creating a soundscape that picked up where their Sgt. Pepper-like opus Paul’s Boutique left off.
Geoffrey Himes, music critic for the Washington Post, Paste, Nashville Scene, American Songwriter, Jazz Times, Downbeat, Texas Music and more, host of Roots Café Baltimore
The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds
If I had to spend the rest of my life on a desert island with a working record player, and I was only allowed to bring one album, the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds would be that disc. I might choose differently I were assigned to spend the rest of my life in a big American or European city, where I might prefer the verbal brilliance of a Bob Dylan or a Randy Newman to help decode the social babble. But if it were an island where I was cut off from society and forced to confront the more elemental features of human nature, I think I would prefer Brian Wilson’s sumptuous harmonies and wistful melancholy. If you’re going to have to listen to the same damn recording for the last 20 years of your life, it should be one that reliably delivers pleasure as well as understanding. And what would I understand? When that locomotive pulls away from the singer as the dizzying harmonies of “Caroline No” flicker out, when that barking dog goes chasing after that train, I’ll know that it’s not just adolescence that’s disappearing; it’s life itself that’s fleeting. And we have no more chance of stopping it than that dog has of catching that train.
Howard Druckman, Editor of SOCAN‘s Words + Music Magazine
The Who, Quadrophenia
It’s an almost impossible choice, but because it was the most emotionally resonant album for me during a particularly vulnerable time in my adolescence, I’d have to go with The Who’s Quadrophenia. As a messed-up teenage kid from a pretty dysfunctional family, I felt like the band, and especially Pete Townshend, was giving fearless expression to everything sad and angry that I was thinking and feeling at the time. Their playing was never better, from Townshend’s slashing power-chords to Roger Daltrey’s primal howl, John Entwistle’s fluid basslines to Keith Moon’s extraordinary demolition work coming out of every quiet bridge. Seeing them on the tour that followed, at the Montreal Forum, with my brother, is one of my favourite memories from a life in music that’s full of them. When I heard Townshend was going to bring Quadrophenia to Broadway, I was furious that he was going to ruin it forever like he did with Tommy, and — inspired by Bill Hicks — I wrote a scathing column for umbrellamusic.com (now defunct) suggesting that he commit suicide in order to save his soul. That’s how much the album meant to me, and I’m still glad he never did sell it out and water it down. Quadrophenia holds up to this day, and listening to it can still take me back to that time and place — but viewed from the much broader and more generous perspective of adulthood.
This is the secret, and untold, history of pop and rock from the men and women who pulled the strings behind the scenes – the producers, the managers and the PR giants.
Episode one tells the story of the maverick managers who controlled the careers of megastar artists, from Colonel Parker (Elvis) right the way up to Scooter Braun (Justin Bieber). Along the way are rollicking tales of industry legends like Led Zeppelin’s Peter Grant, and Don Arden, who managed the Small Faces, Black Sabbath and ELO. Narrated by Simon Napier-Bell, it also features contributions from Andrew Loog Oldham (the Rolling Stones), Jon Landau (Bruce Springsteen), Bill Curbishley (the Who), Paul McGuinness (U2) and Jonathan Dickins (Adele).
Part two of this enlightening series exploring the music business from behind the scenes looks at the music producers. These are the men and women who have created the signature sounds that have defined key periods in rock and pop history. Highlights include Trevor Horn on inventing the ‘Sound of the Eighties’, Lamont Dozier on Motown, and a TV first with legendary producer Tony Visconti taking us through David Bowie’s seminal song Heroes.
Part three of this illuminating series exploring the music business from behind the scenes takes a look at PR, the unseen force behind all the biggest musical acts in the world. With unique revelations, unseen footage and unrivalled access, it tells the story of the rise of PR within the music industry through the eyes of the people who lived it. Highlights include the PR campaigns behind superstars Jimi Hendrix, Taylor Swift and David Bowie.
The Who recorded a cover of the Batman theme in 1966. It was originally released on the EP Ready Steady Who, but has since been re-released as a bonus track on CD pressings of A Quick One. Composed by Neal Hefti, who is humorously credited with “word and music”, the song is built around a guitar hook with a twelve bar blues progression, using only three chords until the coda.
This is part 38 of an ongoing series where the kind folk of the music business reveal their favourite album of all time.
Ask people in the music industry the seemingly simple and straightforward question, “What is your favourite album of all time?” and you’ll find that it’s not always easy. After all, my industry peers listen to hundreds of albums a month – thousands of songs during that time. Because the question isn’t the best album of all time or the one that’s made them the most money in sales, or the most clicked-on review, but the one release they personally can’t live without, that one title they have two copies of in several formats, in case one breaks. It’s also about that album that for them has the best back stories and the one that has the most meaning in their lives.
Brian West, Afternoon Drive, Y108, Hamilton, ON
Black Sabbath, Paranoid
My Dad used to play the song Iron Man all the time, and as a kid I loved the beginning with the vocal effect on Ozzy’s voice saying, ‘I Am Iron Man’. I’m sure I wore out that record asking him to play it over and over again. I eventually got my own copy of the CD and would play it front to back. One thing I loved about that album, is if you panned the audio to (I think the right channel), you would hear Geezer Butler’s bass lines perfectly, as Tony Iommi’s guitars were on the left side. After I found out you could listen to those different instruments on their own, I would constantly listen to each song over and over again once on the left side, then on the right. This introduced me to the bass guitar, which I ended up learning how to play and later joined a band. It’s all thanks to Geezer! My daughter dressed up as Iron Man for Halloween this year… she’s 3 and it was the perfect opportunity for me to introduce her to Sabbath! She loved that same line at the beginning…It’s come full circle.
Buzz Bishop, Middays on XL103, Calgary, AB
Sinead O’Connor, I Do Not Want What I Have Not Got
Sure, everyone looks at the tabloid headlines, thinks of ‘that one song,’ Nothing Compares To You, but if you listened to the whole thing, front to back again, you’d remember it for the masterpiece it was. Sinead’s voice soars and whispers with emotion. Three Babies, Black Boys on Mopeds, The Last Day of Our Acquaintance, each track is raw genius. And then there’s that hit that is still perfect 25 years later.
Bub McCullough, WMCI/WCBH/WWGO, Mattoon, IL
Waylon Jennings, Honky Tonk Heroes
He set the tone for the man who become the epitome of “outlaw.” The one who did it his own way, and better than anyone ever.
Bruce Kenyon, Newstalk CHQR, Calgary, AB
The Who, Who’s Next
I can remember listening to it the first time when it came out and I remember my friends and I thinking it wasn’t as ballsy as Live At Leeds,our favorite at the time. But, obviously it grew on me. I read where Glyn Johns had said that because the band had already toured and played the songs live before coming into the studio, they were already more than familiar with the material and I think that they’re familiarity with the material shows. Keith Moon is at his peak at the time and the album defines “having legs”. It stands up to any record ever made.
Adam Bernard, Adam’s World blog
The Cardigans, Gran Turismo
There is so much to love about this album. It’s pop-rock, but it’s also completely outside the box. It’s moody, but gorgeous. There’s live instrumentation, and electronic elements. Throughout it all, Nina Persson’s incredibly emotive voice is seemingly singing directly to you, and to hear someone whose vocals can be so sweet take such a dark turn on an anti-love song like “Do You Believe” is truly an amazing thing.
Consultez ces album classique couvre … en français !
Check out these classical album covers…in French!
Boards of Canada.
Earth, Wind & Fire.
Kool & The Gang.
THE WHO today confirmed that they are postponing all remaining dates on their “THE WHO HITS 50!” North American tour. They had initially postponed FOUR shows on doctor’s orders after Roger Daltrey contracted a mystery virus. Initially it was hoped that the rest of the tour might proceed, but after extensive tests the seriousness of his condition became apparent when doctors diagnosed Roger as having viral Meningitis and prescribed a period of rest. The band apologize to fans and realize that the postponement will cause an inconvenience for ticketholders. It wasn’t a decision taken lightly–THE WHO always give their fans 100% and were never going to compromise the show, but ultimately the band had no alternative but to postpone the tour.
Roger was particularly disappointed as he had been especially looking forward to the Teen Cancer America benefit in Los Angeles, a charity that he and THE WHO have worked tirelessly for. Thankfully he is already getting better and said, “We are very sorry to disappoint our fans in this way. For the last four weeks, I have been in and out of the hospital and have been diagnosed with viral Meningitis. I am now on the mend and feeling a lot better, but I am going to need a considerable time to recover. The doctors tell me I will make a complete recovery, but that I should not do any touring this year.”
Pete Townshend added, “We are rescheduling all of the shows for next spring 2016. We apologize to all of our fans who have supported us in the last 50 years. Once Roger is completely well we will come back stronger than ever and Roger and I will give you all a show to remember.”
The tour dates being postponed are as follows:
DATE CITY VENUE
Mon 9/14 San Diego, CA Valley View Casino Center
Wed 9/16 Anaheim, CA Honda Center
Sat 9/19 Las Vegas, NV Colosseum at Caesars Palace
Mon 9/21 Los Angeles, CA STAPLES Center
Thu 9/24 Portland, OR Moda Center
Sun 9/27 Seattle, WA KeyArena at Seattle Center
Tue 9/29 Vancouver, BC Pepsi Live at Rogers Arena
Thu 10/1 Calgary, AB Scotiabank Saddledome
Sat 10/3 Edmonton, AB Rexall Place
Tue 10/6 Saskatoon, SK SaskTel Centre
Thu 10/8 Winnipeg, MB MTS Centre
Sat 10/10 Minneapolis, MN Target Center
Tue 10/13 Milwaukee, WI BMO Harris Bradley Center
Thu 10/15 Chicago, IL United Center
Sat 10/17 Detroit, MI Joe Louis Arena
Mon 10/19 Toronto, ON Air Canada Centre
Fri 10/23 Pittsburgh, PA CONSOL Energy Center
Sun 10/25 Newark, NJ Prudential Center
Tue 10/27 New York, NY Madison Square Garden
Thu 10/29 Boston, MA TD Garden
Sun 11/1 Washington, DC Verizon Center
Wed 11/4 Philadelphia, PA Wells Fargo Center
Tue 12/1 Toronto, ON Air Canada Centre
Fri 12/4 Louisville, KY KFC Yum! Center
Sun 12/6 St. Louis, MO Scottrade Center
Tue 12/8 Kansas City, MO Sprint Center
Thu 12/10 Denver, CO Pepsi Center
Sun 12/13 Oakland, CA Oracle Arena
Tickets for the original dates will be honored for the new shows, which will be announced shortly.
One of the greatest rock bands of all time, The Who celebrate 50 years of classic songs live in London’s Hyde Park. The show-stopping performance features all of their greatest hits and proves The Who are still one of the best live bands playing today.
Recorded in front of a sell-out crowd of 65,000 fans, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend deliver a definitive set list of all the greatest hits as The Who take their audience on an ʻAmazing Journeyʼ through their entire career from classic albums such as Who’s Next, Tommy, Quadrophenia, My Generation and Live At Leeds up to the present day.
Featuring ‘My Generation’, ‘Pinball Wizard’, ‘Baba O’Riley’, ‘Who Are You’ and many more, plus exclusive interviews with Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, Robert Plant, Iggy Pop and others. ‘The Who Live in Hyde Park’ is an electrifying cinematic event not to be missed.
Find out more about watching ‘The Who in Hyde Park’ at your local cinema on October 8th here.
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