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Jun 1, 2015

I read Pete Townshend’s memoir, Who I Am, about a year ago, my interest in 1960s British rock icons fired up by Life, the compelling autobiography of Keith Richards. But whereas Richards’ book astounded me with its stories, recall, and the author’s drug- and alcohol-fueled insights into his own only-in-rock-n-roll craziness, I felt rather let down by Townshend’s tale as early as the midpoint.

MARK BLAKE podcast excerpt: "I'd interviewed Roger Daltry several times and I did the book about Queen and the book about Pink Floyd. The Who's story is messy; they're a messy band. They don't do anything easily. They don't do anything the way people think they should do it and that's part of the charm. And they didn't split up. The drummer dies in Led Zeppelin -- they stop. The drummer dies in The Who -- they get another drummer and carry on."

I kept thinking Townshend needed a co-author to help him sort out his story, give it more humanity and emotion. And make it seem like he knew anything at all – or cared – about his long-time bandmates. Someone like Mark Blake.

MARK BLAKE podcast excerpt: "I find The Who in the '80s interesting. I find watching it fall apart kind of interesting. It's got a car crash quality to it."

Blake, the author of Pink Floyd: Pigs Might Fly and Is This the Real Life? The Untold Story of Queen, has just published Pretend You’re in a War: The Who & The Sixties. It’s the kind of deep leap in the pool that I think The Who’s lead guitarist wanted to produce but fell woefully short on. Pretend You’re in a War takes the first decade of The Who’s 50-year career and gives context and breadth to behind the scenes detail that should electrify fans of one of the original world class rock bands the genre has ever produced.

Mark Blake WebsiteBlog • Twitter • Order Pretend You're in a War: The Who and The Sixties from