Who's Townshend Walks Off Stage Because It's 'Too Loud'

Guitarist's hearing problems prompt early departure.

Ultimate Guitar

They were once renowned for playing at dangerously loud volumes, but these days, The Who are keen to keep it down. In Sunrise, Florida over the weekend, guitarist Pete Townshend became visibly angry with his sound technicians as the band performed a rendition of "You Better You Bet". And, such was Townshend's anger that he then marched off stage without saying anything to his band mates or the audience.

After the gig, which was the first stop on the band's "Quadrophenia And More" US tour, Who rhythm guitarist and Pete's brother Simon Townshend tweeted the following information about Pete's early departure: "Pete walked off tonight because it was too loud. Was a good show but had some technical problems."

Townshend has complained of hearing problems for most of his tenure as a Who member. He has suffered from tinnitus since standing too close to Keith Moon's exploding drum kit during a performance on the Smothers Brothers TV show in 1967. Recently, the guitarist had speculated that his hearing issues may bring an end to his musical career, although he has since found a monitoring system that caters to his issues.

Back in 1976, The Who claimed the title of "Loudest Band In The World" after being measured producing a volume of 126db. 126db is higher than the point at which sound causes pain. These days, health and safety rules forbid exposure to sounds over 115db for more than 15 minutes per day.

As we reported back in September, Townshend raised some eyebrows recently after describing Mick Jagger's penis as "long and plump". Townshend also stated that Jagger was the only man he ever "seriously wanted to f--k". The revelations were excerpts from the guitarist's autobiography "Who I Am", which was released last month.

30 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I just had to find the vid of the drum kit exploding. Best gig ending ever!
    Strummerboy Leo
    I really hope his hearing issues don't force him to call it quits. I'd like to think there's a bit more left in the tank after such a long (and plump?) career. Here's hoping he keeps on rocking.
    As a sufferer of tinnitus, I completely understand his problem. Sure, volume is part of the experience, but when you need to think about laying in bed nights on end not being able to sleep and dizzy from your inner ear ****ing up, it's not worth it. Thinking about your hearing is completely legitimate and logical to protecting your health and overall way of life.
    Too loud=too old.
    I'm 22 and have tinnitus from a stage incident that happened when I was 18. Since then, I've carefully checked and double-checked the volume on my amp and my music players for what is most comfortable and for what is least likely to aggravate my condition. Even then I get painful ringing in my ears. I sympathise with Pete, mostly because he couldn't avoid loud noise that would make the ringing louder and the pain greater until recently.
    Yeah I have some minor tinnitus too and it sucks. It's not bad yet but I really don't want it to get worse. And when you're as deaf as Pete Townsend earplugs don't even work anymore because the ringing is too loud with them in.
    I also have Tinnitus, It really is nothing to scoff at. It is ridiculous to have high pitch ringing in your ears 24/7. The problem is no one takes it seriously until it's to late. Fortunately for me usually some noise drowns it out so i don't notice it unless i plug my ears or it becomes quiet like trying to sleep. I can definitely see how it can literally drive people insane or commit suicide. Please protect your ears guys.
    Another tinnitus sufferer here - kinda hoped it would raise more awareness of it than it did, but I guess there's only so long the article can be before it becomes a column instead. For anyone mocking/debasing him: I strongly suggest you put some though into protecting your own hearing at gigs/in loud environments. It is NOT something you want for the rest of your life. When it's mild, you can live with it if your hearing is good (I actually have above average hearing, tested as recently as this June) but I can safely say one of my biggest concerns is that when I'm a lot older, if I go deaf I may be left with no ability to mask the ringing at night with other noises. Next time you get temporary tinnitus from a loud night out/gig, ask yourself if you'd want to try and sleep through that every night, and hear it whenever you enter a quiet room.
    I heard of an experimental treatment (so don't get you hopes up too high) in which the hearing nerve is stimulated by a weak current while sounds *similar* in frequency to your tinnitus are played to you. Sort of recalibrates the part of the brain that interprets the signal from the chochlea. I'll see if I can find that link again, was on a german IT newsletter.
    frehley freak
    He's in great pain and it was opening night. They didnt have the level perfected yet... hes played 2 shows since with no problems. The Tinnitus he has is very painful.
    I dont care, Hes still mother ****ing Pete Townshend. Cant wait to seem them during the Quadrophenia tour!
    Well. I can safely say that when I opened this article, the last thing I expected to read was that Mick Jagger's penis is long and plump. So Keith Richards calls Jagger a "tiny todger" and Townshend calls him "long and plump", Steven Adler raves about Steven Tyler's manhood.... Can all these aging rock stars PLEASE stop talking about each other's penises???
    I have a question re the "like/dislike" bit on top of the UG news articles. Why, if only two people have voted, one for, one against, does it state %55 dislike? I've noticed the dodgy maths on the other articles, too.
    Can't blame him for wanting to avoid ruining his hearing altogether, even if it did come at the cost of a show. I get the occasional ringing in my ears/sudden drop in hearing in one ear (Though it doesn't last too long or happen too often) and to have that almost constant would drive me batty, so it's pretty fair that Pete didn't want to do yet more damage when he's already suffering from many decades of it already.
    deci-damp ear plugs with isolation headphones over top, probably wouldn't hear anything. Not trying to be an ass but when you are a musician playing a live gig you kind of have to expect it to be loud.
    I wouldn't be surprised if the monitor engineer got fired after the show...the one job that is most likely to be replaced.
    Unfortunate the guy has those kind of challenges but between that and his painfully poor playing skills at the Super Bowl, the guy just looks foolish. Grace Slick had it right-old people, and she included herself, have no business playing rock on stage.
    Most of these old rockers are still better than the young bands coming out. I just saw sabbath and it was one of the best shows I've been to. Also, go watch a Rush concert. They are still as good as they've always been.