May 19, 1965: Pete Townshend spends 20th birthday writing “My Generation”
The Who are arguably one of the most important rock bands of all time. Aside from their musical contributions, they inspired many to destroy their instruments on stage. Before any of the mayhem could take place, they needed a huge hit. Fortunately, guitarist Pete Townshend delivered a high-quality banger.
Dude, where’s my car?
As a London native, Townshend used his 1935 Packard hearse to get around the area. One day, the Queen Mother decided to have his vehicle towed in another part of town. She didn’t have it moved because it violated any town laws. Her reason was a bit personal. “One day I came back and it was gone. It turned out that [the Queen Mother] had it moved, because her husband had been buried in a similar vehicle and it reminded her of him. When I went to collect it, they wanted two hundred and fifty quid. I’d only paid thirty for it in the first place,” Townshend told Q Magazine.
Long train runnin’
Without a vehicle, Townshend decided to take the train on his 20th birthday. On the ride, he started coming up with lyrics for a new song. The Queen Mother situation caused him to write the lyric “Hope I die before I get old.” To Townshend, “old” meant “rich.” With some much-needed inspiration, Townshend showed off “My Generation” to rest of the band. After unanimous approval, it was time to make this track come to life.
A much-needed radio hit
Originally set as a blues tune, things quickly changed at the suggestion of manager Kit Lambert. The band probably wouldn’t have an iconic song if they left it slow and moody. Released on October 29, 1965, “My Generation” was a huge success on the radio. It also delivered one of the first bass solos ever recorded. With their album My Generation dropping months later, The Who had no idea about their inevitable iconic status. While Townshend undeniably became “old,” he didn’t have other people’s vehicles towed.