1986 Twickenham

Having been infatuated with Pete Townshend’s writing since my brothers gave me the Tommy soundtrack for my 10th birthday, when I was a 20 year old photographer in Edinburgh I decided to try to take a photo of Pete.

I wrote to Eel Pie and they politely told me “Sorry, Pete’s a bit busy right now...” I wrote a few more times and on April 4, in the second post, was an Eel Pie envelope. I will never, ever forget the excitement when I read the words “Pete says that since you are obviously such a ‘tryer' he will try to fit you into his schedule so that you can take a photograph of him."

A month later I bused down to London with a camera, 2 rolls of film and some sandwiches. When you’re 20 years old and Pete Townshend walks into a room it can be overwhelming and at that moment I forgot how to speak. Sitting on a bench on the banks of the Thames we discussed photography, music and America.

I live in California now. I’ve been a photographer my whole adult life and have seen some pretty big productions but no photoshoot comes close to the thrill of this naive little session that I was so lucky to have on May 2, 1986.

Rory Earnshaw