The Pete Townshend quote that made Joe Walsh “flattered beyond belief”

Pete Townshend

Nearly every artist in the world has experienced imposter syndrome at some point. Even though people like to think of themselves as the next big thing, it can be difficult to truly believe in oneself when you are also your own worst enemy most of the time. Joe Walsh claimed that even though he shouldn’t have to prove anything to anyone, hearing Pete Townshend commend him as a guitarist gave him the confidence he needed to pursue his career as a guitarist.

You remember it, after all, if someone like Pete Townshend thinks highly enough of you to say so. The Who introduced Walsh to heavy rock outside groups like The Beatles and The Stones. Townshend’s approval of something resembles being anointed by a rock god.

Granted, Townshend didn’t form everyone’s first impression of a guitar hero. Half the time, Townshend played the rhythm right up the middle, more of the timekeeper in the group. Keith Moon and John Entwistle were popular for flying around the stage whenever they performed.

But whenever he chose to take the lead, it was always to further the melody. Half the time, Townshend’s licks were more akin to vocal melodies, usually complementing Roger Daltrey’s vocals. He would not give someone like Jimi Hendrix a run for his money.

Following Walsh’s gift of a signature guitar for the Who’s Next recording, Townshend declared, “Joe Walsh is a fluid and intelligent player,” describing Walsh as a remarkable musician. Such people are rare in today’s world. Walsh had a fantastic job with the James Gang already, but that one compliment completely changed his perspective.

Later, Walsh recalled how much he loved Townshend and said he became surprised by the guitarist’s compliment. He stated, “Pete’s a very melodic player, and so am I.” He expressed his appreciation for my playing to me. Being flattered beyond measure, I never thought I was that good. I had a great rapport with Pete. We shared similar annoyances when collaborating with a trio.

After joining the Eagles, Walsh could get past the frustrations of the three-piece group. Having a nice bed for Walsh to play leads on top of fitting in perfectly when writing songs like “Life in the Fast Lane” and soloing over “Hotel California” is something that every power trio needs to have everyone carrying a good chunk of the work.

If anything, by the end of The Who’s heyday, are we certain that Pete Townshend wasn’t taking guitar riffs from Walsh? While plenty of songs on It’s Hard bore some resemblance to The Long Run, Townshend was free to draw inspiration from anyone he pleased.

Still, Walsh might not have had the courage to record songs like “Life’s Been Good” later if Townshend hadn’t recognized his potential. He did pick up the unhealthy habit of befriending Keith Moon. However, it seemed like a fair trade in the grand scheme of things.

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