Pete Townshend (born 19 May 1945) is an English musician, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, best known as the guitarist, co-lead vocalist, songwriter, and leader for the rock band The Who. His career with the Who spans over 50 years, during which time the band grew to be considered one of the most influential bands of the 20th century. Townshend has also contributed to and authored many newspaper and magazine articles, book reviews, essays, books, and scripts, and he has collaborated as a lyricist and composer for many other musical acts. Due to his aggressive playing style and innovative songwriting techniques, Townshend's works with The Who and in other projects have earned him critical acclaim.
He is the main songwriter for the Who, having written well over 100 songs for the band's 11 studio albums, including concept albums and the rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia, plus popular rock radio staples such as Who's Next, and dozens more that appeared as non-album singles, bonus tracks on reissues, and tracks on rarities compilations such as Odds & Sods (1974). Although known primarily as a guitarist, he also plays keyboards, banjo, accordion, harmonica, ukulele, mandolin, violin, synthesiser, bass guitar, and drums, on his own solo albums, several Who albums and as a guest contributor to an array of other artists' recordings. He is self-taught on all of the instruments he plays and has never had any formal training.
Although he grew up in a household with jazz musicians, Townshend absorbed many of his ideas about performance and rock music themes during art school. Townshend's roommate at Ealing Art College, Tom Wright, had a large record collection, and Townshend listened to and became influenced by R&B artists like Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley, Booker T. & the MGs, Little Walter, and Chuck Berry.