Why Pete Townshend Said He Can’t Stand Led Zeppelin

Why Pete Townshend Said He Can’t Stand Led Zeppelin | I Love Classic Rock Videos

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It is a natural tendency to draw comparisons between musicians who emerged during the same era, and one such instance involves Pete Townshend of The Who. This iconic guitarist found himself at the center of such musical comparisons, particularly with the legendary band Led Zeppelin.

In an era where both The Who and Led Zeppelin garnered immense success, mutual admiration existed between the two groups. Despite this shared respect, Townshend harbored a strong aversion to Led Zeppelin.

The question arises: was Townshend’s disdain rooted in a sense of rivalry spurred by Led Zeppelin’s formidable success, or did it stem from a more deeply ingrained animosity?

Unraveling the intricacies of Townshend’s sentiments toward Led Zeppelin unveils a complex tapestry of musical dynamics, personal preferences, and perhaps, the unavoidable undercurrents of competition that often characterize the music industry.

Townshend’s bitter feelings towards their fellow rock icons

While The Who boasts an impressive cumulative record sales figure of around 100 million, their ascent to success didn’t mirror the meteoric rise that catapulted Led Zeppelin to instant fame.

The accelerated trajectory of Led Zep’s fame set them apart, subjecting them to comparisons with nearly every contemporary band and posing a formidable challenge for others in the industry. This phenomenon had a palpable impact on Townshend, who found it challenging to resonate with Led Zeppelin’s musical style.

The difficulty in acknowledging and appreciating the latter’s success may have been compounded by a sense of jealousy, adding a nuanced layer to Townshend’s feelings toward the rival band.

The disparity in the pace of success between the two iconic bands not only illustrates the diverse trajectories that bands navigate in the music industry but also sheds light on the complexities of artistic appreciation and competition within the rock and roll landscape. 

“I haven’t liked a single thing that they’ve done”

During a 1995 interview with Time magazine, the Who’s guitarist candidly expressed his genuine sentiments regarding Jimmy and his hard rock pioneering cohorts. Despite the absence of any overt conflicts between the two musical entities, Townshend did not hold a steadfast admiration for Zeppelin’s musical output.

He elaborated, “I haven’t liked a single thing that they’ve done. I hate the fact that I’m ever even slightly compared to them. I just never, ever liked them. It’s a real problem for me because as people they’re all really, really great guys. I just never liked the band.”

While there were no interpersonal issues between the two groups, Townshend acknowledged the undeniable reality that Led Zeppelin had achieved greater prominence than The Who.

“I don’t know if I’ve got a problem, a block, because they became so much bigger than The Who in so many ways. But I never liked them,” the guitarist asserted.

“He was no Beck, but he was all right”

Townshend’s sentiments were reciprocated, it seems. Page, too, had opinions to share about The Who.

The two guitar titan’s initial encounter dates back to their youth, during which they spent some time together. In a 1977 interview with Trouser Press, Jimmy was asked about his impressions of Pete.

At that time, the rock icon had only positive remarks for his acquaintance. Recognizing Townshend’s musical prowess, Page commented, “Oh, yeah. Lots of attack. Really good. He had his limitations, though. He was no Beck, but he was all right.”

This short but sharp observation from the Led Zep guitarist simply demonstrates the mutual respect between the two, despite their divergent views about each other.