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The Who’s Pete Townshend says “all guitarists are intimidated” by young shredders on Instagram

Pete Townshend of The Who has admitted that “all guitarists are intimidated” by the young guitarists who post videos of themselves shredding on social media.

Speaking to Guitarist – per Guitar.com – in an interview, Townshend spoke of using the guitar as a technical tool when it comes to composing music. “I think one of the things that all guitarists of today are intimidated by is these young guys on Instagram that shred to hell and back, or to heaven and back, I should say, who started when they were six. But we are just our fingers.”

Townshend also said despite the “intimidation”, he’s happy that he has developed his own style rather than focusing on “flashy runs”: “What I’m happy about is I can do two days of practice and learn some really flashy runs if I want to, though I’m still stuck with the old order, which is trying to make sure I don’t let my fingers play a series of cliches.”

The Who CREDIT: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

He also related his point to The Who’s recent tour, and how their music showcases what “the guitar is great for”: “So the Who have just done a tour of the U.K. and I don’t expect people to go on YouTube and get their minds blown. But I do think that some of the playing, some of the solos, some of the chord work, some of the surprises, some of the avoiding tricks and being willing to take risks is really what I feel the guitar is great for.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Townshend spoke of Leslie West comparing him to Eric Clapton: “I remember Leslie West saying to me about Eric Clapton: ‘I prefer your licks, Pete, to Eric’s, because Eric seems to be playing things that he’s learned, that he’s picked up from other blues players.’ And I think that is a fair comparison, although I have seen Eric play live, where he really goes sky high.”

In related news, The Who’s future remains unclear, as Townshend said that they have to “have a chat about what happens next” following the conclusion of their final orchestral tour date at the Sandringham Estate over the summer.

Pete Townshend of The Who
Pete Townshend of The Who performs with The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra at Royal Sandringham Estate on August 28, 2023 in Sandringham, Norfolk CREDIT: Katja Ogrin/Redferns

“I think it’s time for Roger and I to go to lunch and have a chat about what happens next. Because Sandringham shouldn’t feel like the end of anything but it feels like the end of an era,” Townshend said.

He added: “It’s a question of, really, what is feasible, what would be lucrative, what would be fun? So, I wrote to Roger and said, come on, let’s have a chat and see what’s there.”

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