I haven’t come to any conclusions about the Pete Townshend debacle, but taking Pete at his word, when does “autobiography research” cross the line into criminality? Dave Marsh, who is admittedly biased, spoke to USA Today:
- ”Yes, Tommy reflects an interest in this issue, and other things Pete has written have made passing references to it,” says Marsh. ”But what they reflect is not great delight but great torment.
”Pete’s been a great friend for more than 30 years,” Marsh adds. ”But how we really became friends was I was writing from the point of view of someone who had been abused in a different way, who was a battered child. His records helped save my life. And if people are going to start interpreting his work in light of various things, we ought to make sure that light shines in all the places it ought to, not just in the most scandalous places. This is not a guy who’s about hurting people.”
Andy Pemberton, editor of music magazine Blender, feels that the music community, at least, isn’t likely to condemn Townshend without more concrete and damning evidence against him. ”I don’t think there’s any bad will against him, and people won’t jump to conclusions,” says Pemberton.
But Marsh, while allowing that Townshend’s online ”research” was ”not a wise thing to have done,” worries about its long-term fallout, for both the rocker and Marsh’s own industry.
”Yes, the cops had a right and an obligation to look into this,” Marsh says. ”But that isn’t what happened. They took somebody and dragged him through as much mud as they could dig up. This is basically about criminalizing investigative behavior — saying, ‘You’re not allowed to investigate certain things.’ And any journalist who doesn’t feel threatened by that is not paying attention.”