Cover image for Pete Townshend : the minstrel's dilemma
Pete Townshend : the minstrel's dilemma
Smith, Larry David.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 1999.
Physical Description:
x, 305 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML410.T69 S65 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Smith explores Pete Townshend's artistic struggle between his own creative impulses and those of the commercial public. Faced with a modern version of the minstrel's dilemma, Townshend, early in his career, ignored his creative instincts to satisfy commercial agendas. After his success, he slowly withdrew to resolve his conflict between creativity and commercialism. Townshend's creative vision unfolds against the conflicts and compromises battled with the entertainment industry. A common theme, that of the seeker, weaves throughout the various phases of Townshend's career and highlights his own quest for complete artistic expression free from compromise.

In The Minstrel's Dilemma , Townshend is shown as a musician confronting the same battles begun by early minstrels and later fought by composers such as Beethoven and Mozart. He is referred to as a rock auteur, creating music that reflects his personal experiences and creative views. He is called a seeker, in search of artistic freedom toward personal expression. And at the end of his thirty-year struggle he is a true artist, able to live up to audience expectation while attending to his own artistic impulses.

Author Notes

Larry David Smith is Associate Professor of Communication at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

In this critical biography of Pete Townshend, Smith (Purdue Univ.) explores a struggle between the artist and the commercial public he refers to as the "minstrel's dilemma." Early in his career as songwriter and leader of The Who, Townshend was forced by his management and the media to choose between his creative instincts and selling millions of records to the music consumers of the mid-1960s. Using anecdotes from Townshend's life, interviews with his subject and others, as well as extensive analysis of Townshend's song lyrics, short stories, and autobiography, Smith meticulously traces Townshend's career, personal development, and the effect of the minstrel's dilemma on him. Smith divides the book into three sections, covering Townshend's professional problems, his early days with The Who as a songwriter and then as a creator of the rock opera, and his solo work as a recording artist, musical theater composer, and short story writer. Recommended for fans and for academic libraries with popular culture and music collections.√ĄLisa N. Johnston, Sweet Briar Coll. Lib., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Part I. The Minstrel's Dilemma
Introductionp. 3
1. The Auteur, the Impulse, the Oeuvrep. 9
Part II. The Minstrel's Struggle
2. The Singles Periodp. 43
3. The Opera Periodp. 77
4. The End of The Whop. 125
Part III The Minstrel's Resolution
5. The Solo Career: The Impulse's Opportunityp. 167
6. The Solo Career: The Impulse's Victoryp. 207
7. The Minstrel's Dilemma: The Case of Pete Townshendp. 251
Referencesp. 291
Indexp. 303