Pete Townshend does not usually hesitate when it comes to expressing what he thinks and that made it clear again in a recent interview with Rolling Stone in which he noted that The Beatles copied The Who.
During the conversation, journalist Andy Greene asked the musician if he had been inspired by the Fab Four during the era of The Who Sell Out – his band’s third album released in 1967 – as Lennon and company released their acclaimed Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band earlier that year.
“The Beatles copied us! Paul McCartney came up to me at the Bag O’Nails [a music club in Soho, London], which we mention in the album artwork. He was always very, very sweet to me, I should say that first. But he said to me that he really loved our mini-opera, which was called ‘A Quick One, While He’s Away.’ That was on the album that preceded The Who Sell Out. And he told me they were thinking about doing similar things.”
The Chiswick native then went on to acknowledge the extent of his influence on The Beatles and described his own work on The Who Sells Out as “weak” and “in need of a framework.” He then complemented by saying:
“But getting back to Sgt. Pepper, there isn’t much of a concept to that record. But to this day, whenever I sit down and get the vinyl out, stick it on, something always leaps out that I’ve never noticed before. So I think the same is true with Pet Sounds. Those two albums are seminal changes in what we all believed was going to be possible if you were in a band making records, just extraordinary leaps of faith that the audience would accept it.”