Why The Who guitarist Pete Townshend hates Led Zeppelin

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Pete Townshend, the bassist for The Who, is frequently argumentative in interviews, especially when discussing bands he doesn’t particularly like. He has never been afraid to express his views to anyone who occurs to be nearby. The guitarist might be ranting about how much he hates his bandmate Roger Daltrey or explaining why he thinks The Beatles’ music is nothing but “lousy” in public.

The Who, an English rock group founded in 1964, became one of the century’s most important and recognizable acts. The band is renowned for its powerful and upbeat music. The success of the band is attributed to vocalist Roger Daltrey and lead guitarist Pete Townshend. The Who have influenced a variety of musicians and genres over the years in addition to their records and their energetic and frequently destructive live shows.

His criticisms may have been his way of being a tough critic but when it came to his opinion on Led Zeppelin, that was something else. Long-time collaborators Jimmy Page and Pete Townshend, actually date back to The Who’s very first recording session. It happened in November 1964, years before Led Zeppelin was even a thought. Townshend and his band had assembled that day to record “I Can’t Explain” in the studio.

The guitar-smashing hero previously called out Led Zeppelin for stealing the music of his group and passing it off as their own. Throughout almost the entirety of their tenure, he has also been outspoken about how much he detests Robert Plant and company. He even said, “I haven’t liked a single thing that they’ve done. I hate the fact that we’re ever even slightly compared to them. I just never, ever liked them. It’s a real problem for me because as people i think they’re all really, really great guys. Just never liked the band, you know. I’ve just got a problem block to them. Because they became so much bigger The Who in so many ways in their chosen field. But i never liked.”

While talking with the Toronto Sun about The Who’s last album, he even criticized Led Zeppelin. He even said that the band copied them. Pete said,

“We sort of invented heavy metal with (our first live album) Live at Leeds (1970). We were copied by so many bands, principally by Led Zeppelin, you know heavy drums, heavy bass, heavy lead guitar and some of those bands, like Jimi Hendrix for example, did it far better than we did.”

“Cream, with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, they came along in ‘67, same year as Jimi Hendrix, and they kind of stole our mantle in a sense. So people who want to hear that old heavy metal sound there are plenty of bands that can provide it. So it’s not really what we can actually do today. Even if we wanted to, it was never high on my list of wishes.”

According to estimates, The Who has sold around 100 million records over the years while Led Zeppelin has shipped 300 million, making Led Zeppelin noticeably more profitable than The Who in terms of sales. The number of people present reflects this as well. Led Zeppelin broke the attendance record established by The Beatles at Shea Stadium in May 1973 by drawing more than 56,000 spectators to Tampa Stadium, earning the band $309,000. This was the most money ever made from a rock performance at the time.

Seems like the only band Pete likes is his own. Also looks like Pete was upset that Led Zeppelin sold more records than The Who. You can decide for yourself why Pete Townshend dislikes Led Zeppelin, but it seems pretty clear.

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