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Pete Townshend plays rare solo set at Parkinson's benefit

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Pete Townshend took the stage last night (April 19th) at London's Royal Albert Hall to perform at the Parkinson’s UK Presents: Symfunny No. 2. fundraiser for Parkinson's research and care. According to fan reports, Townshend played a solo acoustic version of the Quadrophenina classic "I'm One," and then, sans instrument -- while backed by the house orchestra -- he performed the live premiere of his 1976 collaboration with his late-father-in-law, Ted Astley, called "Football Fugue" and the legendary Quad finale, "Love Reign O'er Me."

Back in February, Townshend explained why he committed to playing the rare solo gig, posting, "My beloved father-in-law Edwin (Ted) Astley, who helped me break into orchestral arrangements for some of my songs in the ‘80s, suffered and eventually died from Supranuclear Palsy which is a horrible type of Parkinson’s Disease. Together we collaborated on several songs, one very silly fugue called 'Football Fugue' which I will perform on the night. If I’m allowed to speak, I can be funny too."

Ted Astley also did the orchestration on Townshend's 1977 ballad "Street In The City," from Rough Mix, his joint album with Ronnie Lane. Several of Townshend's other works with Astley -- 1978's "Brooklyn Kids," "I Like It The Way It Is," and "The Ferryman" found homes on Townshend's assorted Scoop collections.
Pete Townshend told us that with the release of the Who's debut single, 'I Can't Explain,' back in 1965 -- when he was just 19-years-old -- he felt as though he was given the brief by his audience on how to carry out his career as a songwriter: "What I felt was that the band -- the member of the band, the record company, the managers, and the audience were all saying to me: 'We really like this song you wrote write some more!' And I though, 'Ah! I'm an artist; I've got a commission.' And that has sustained me all my life. Just that simple thing, 'Write some more.' It's just such a great thing to be told if you're a writer (laughs) -- 'We want to hear something more from you.'"

The Who tour dates (subject to change):

July 13 - Quebec City, Quebec - Festival D'ete de Quebec at Plains Of Abraham
July 16 - Canandaigua, NY - Constellation Brands - Marvin Sands PAC (CMAC)
July 18 - Oxon Hill, MD - Theater At MGM National Harbor
July 20 - Uncasville, CT - Mohegan Sun Arena
July 22 - Atlantic City, NJ - Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall   
July 25 - Grand Rapids, MI - Van Andel Arena
July 29 - Las Vegas, NV - The Colosseum At Caesars Palace
August 1, 4, 7, 9, 11 - Las Vegas, NV - The Colosseum At Caesars Palace
August 16 - Stateline, NV - Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena At Harveys  
September 23 - Rio De Janeiro, Brazil - Rock In Rio - Rio De Janeiro at Rock City

Side Notes:

Recently released on CD and DVD is Pete Townshend's Face The Face. The collection captures Townshend's short-lived 16-piece Deep End band featuring David Gilmour -- along with Simon Phillips who would serve as the Who's drummer on their 1989 reunion tour. The January 29th, 1986 show was Deep's End's third and final full-length concert and was captured by the German TV series Rockpalast at MIDEM in Cannes.

Although shorter than the November 1985 Deep End shows -- which were chronicled on previous Townshend releases, Deep End Live! and the extended Live: Brixton Academy '85 -- Face The Face includes two songs not featured on either collection: "Slit Skirts" and "Hiding Out.”

As on the Brixton live disc, Gilmour is given a star turn with "Blue Light" from his 1984 About Face album. In addition to solo favorites, Townshend and Deep End tackle such Who classics as "Won't Get Fooled Again," "Behind Blue Eyes," and "Pinball Wizard.”

Townshend's solo career gets the focus on the disc, including such favorites as his then-new tunes "Face The Face," "Second Hand Love," "Give Blood" along with Townshend's recent giveaway to Roger Daltrey -- "After The Fire." Other Townshend classics include "Rough Boys," "The Sea Refuses No River," and "A Little Is Enough."

Check it out: The Who in concert on March 26, 2016 at Scottrade Center

The Who Hits 50!: March 26, 2016

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The Who Hits 50!
Photo by: 
© Todd Morgan,
The Who Hits 50! Tour live at Scottrade Center on March 26, 2016

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