The Who's Pete Townshend: "We sort of invented heavy metal"

(Image credit: David Redfern / Getty)

The Who's Pete Townshend is never one to shy away from grandiose statements in his interviews, and in a promotional interview for The Who's new album Who with the Toronto Sun he's suggested the band were trailblazing heavy metal on their seminal 1970 Live At Leeds album.

"It doesn't sound like The Who from those early heavy metal years," he said of the band's recently released studio album . "We sort of invented heavy metal with [our first live album] Live At Leeds. 

We were copied by so many bands, principally by Led Zeppelin — you know, heavy drums, heavy bass, heavy lead guitar

"We were copied by so many bands, principally by Led Zeppelin — you know, heavy drums, heavy bass, heavy lead guitar and some of those bands, like Jimi Hendrix for example, did it far better than we did. Cream, with Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, they came along in '67, same year as Jimi Hendrix, and they kind of stole our mantle in a sense. 

"So people who want to hear that old heavy metal sound, there are plenty of bands that can provide it. So it's not really what we can actually do today. Even if we wanted to, it was never high on my list of wishes."

Putting aside the fact Black Sabbath released their self-titled earlier in the same year as Live At Leeds, The Who were already trailblazing the 'heavy' sound Townshend refers to some time before they recorded their album at the University Of Leeds Refectory . 

But was it heavy metal? That might be a stretch. 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.