Brian May claims Pete Townshend “basically invented” rock guitar

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Queen guitarist Brian May has paid tribute to The Who’s Pete Townshend, the musician who he believes “basically invented” the rock guitar.

While May rose to prominence a decade after The Who established themselves into rock ‘n’ roll folklore, he was around as a spectator to witness the early days of Townshend’s group. This was an integral chapter for May as he devoured the finest musical offerings which he could experience, and meld them into his own artistry.

Over the years, May has spoken on record multiple times about his adoration for Townshend, but taking to Instagram, the Queen guitarist has acknowledged that he should be more outspoken on the subject, noting, “I probably don’t say it enough.”

May decided to share his love for Townshend after being shown a previous quote he’d said of The Who member, encouraging him to tell his followers: “I can’t imagine Rock Guitar without Pete Townshend. Looking back, it seems to me he basically invented it ! I was lucky enough to be there watching. My playing owes so much to him.”

The Queen guitarist went on to say, “Townshend brought to the scene a blistering clang of super-amplified but not over-saturated chords – razor-edged monoliths crashing angrily through our brains, biting rhythmic hammer blows which would change the likes of me forever.”

Delving into the specifics of Townshend’s back catalogue that makes him a legendary figure in the guitar world, May continued: “If you want to feel what I’m talking about – put on “My Generation” at full volume on your home system – and gasp in wonder !!! Keith Moon drumming insanely, John Entwistle thundering a massive bass with the sonic breadth of a full orchestra – and an aggressive young Shepherds Bush rebel Roger Daltry – a punk icon long before the invention of ‘Punk Rock’. Completely Awesome.”

May also highlighted ‘I’m A Boy’, ‘Can’t Explain’, ‘Summertime Blues’ and ‘Substitute’ as other examples of the guitarist’s brilliance which make him “a tour de force of gigantic rhythm playing”. The Queen member instructed his followers to listen to these songs as their “assignment for the day” which he says “transformed Rock and Roll into Rock !!!”

In a previous interview with BBC Radio 2 of his musical origins, May reflected on watching The Who in Shepherds Bush as a teenager with Queen drummer Roger Taylor and the transformative effect it had on him, stating, “When they did turn up it was mayhem let loose. It was just so loud, dangerous and anarchic, I guess. This was long before punk. So I think The Who kind of wrote the recipe for punk, if you like. So they played local to us and we went to see them a lot. We followed them, we loved them. They ripped out the rulebook.”

Meanwhile, Townshend recently walked back on comments he previously made regarding a farewell tour with The Who, which now looks like it will not occur. While appearing on the Sound Up! podcast, hosted by Mark Goodman and Alan Light, Townshend poured scorn on the idea, claiming, “I’m not doing a farewell tour. I think I was being sarcastic about it.”

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