The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

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Pete Townshend on the Rolling Stones

Rock and roll has quite obviously been around for a lot longer than I thought. And I've learned so much this evening - and I didn't expect to. And I hope that I can carry on the course. Because there's obviously a lot to learn, and for the star of this evening, for Little Richard, I just want to tell him that I think I'm old enough now to come to your room. When Little Richard walked onto the stage, I thought for a moment he was Keith Moon. I think they're the same person. It's been great to see so many people that I know and would like to know. I've got a lot of paper here. Keith Richards once told me that I think too much. The truth is that I think, generally, that I talk too much. But I don't think first. And faced with injecting the Rolling Stones this evening, I realized that thinking isn't going to help me very much. I mean, Ahmet said a lot of things, and I thought I'd have to go there and say it all again, but in a slightly different way. I can't analyze what I feel about the Stones, because I'm really an absolute stone fan of the Stones, and always have been. Their early shows were just shocking, and absolutely riveting and stunning and moving, and they changed my life completely. The Beatles were fun - there's no doubt about that; no, I'm talking about their live shows, you know - I'm not demeaning them in any way. But the Stones were really what made me wake up. At the Beatles shows, there were lots of screaming girls, and at the Stones - I think the Stones were the first to have a screaming boy. And the sheer force of the Stones on stage, and that perfectly balanced audience - a thousand girls, and me - it kind of singled them out. They're the only group I've ever really been unashamed about idolizing, apart from today, a new idolization of Little Richard begins - and each of them in their own way has given me something as an artist, as a person, and as a fan. And it would be crazy to suggest that any of the things they gave me were wholesome, practical, or useful. Even Bill Wyman hurt me - and not really because I'm jealous of the female company he keeps, no. He got such a big advance for this book he's doing about the Stones' life that the book is obviously expected to sell more copies than the last couple of Stones albums. You've heard how much he got? You've heard how much they sold. It's a wonder Ahmet even bothered, really. Charlie wounded me in the last year by having a much more dramatic drug problem than mine. Keith had a much more dramatic cure. And Brian Jones hurt me by not bothering to take a cure. Because I loved him a lot. He was very, very important to me. He was the first real star who befriended me in a real way - I spent a lot of time with him before I really got to know Mick and Keith, who I love very much now. But he was the... I hung out with him quite a lot, and I've missed him terribly, and I always felt than when he finally did collapse, that the Stones were a very different group. Mick gave me something too. A bad case of VD. Sorry, sorry, sorry - no, no, that's wrong. Mick's mix CD had a bad case, it says here, and I suppose that's really a complaint for you blokes at CBS. And Ronny Wood of course is now a Rolling Stone; I can't help but think of him as the new boy. And it's wonderful to note that, due to his tender age, he still has his own teeth. But I did notice that tonight, they've been set into what looks like someone else's face. Will the Stones ever work again? On an early British TV show the producer took Andrew Loog Oldham and said, 'Hi Andrew, great to see you, haven't seen you for 40 million years.' Andrew - the wonderful Andrew Loog hauled him aside, and advised him to sack the singer. I don't know whether you know this. I'm glad that after all these years, the lads in the group have finally seen fit to take his advice. Whoo! I'm having fun now.

The Stones have made some great records, and everyone will know that it isn't easy to make great records. A few people here close to the stones will know that sometimes it isn't easy to make records at all. And I'm not just saying that 'cause Charlie isn't here. But we have a great legacy from the Stones, and it remains primarily with Atlantic Records, despite the wonderful CBS deal a couple years ago for the Stones. In fact Walter asked me to take this opportunity to urge the lads to hurry forward, and take advantage of the new vistas offered at CBS records for the boys. Because Ahmet and me now, with little to gain financially, we'd agree with him. It won't be easy for the Stones next time 'round, and if it wasn't for the vast sums of money they can make, they might not bother at all, really - or at least, Mick probably wouldn't. So it's lucky for us fans, then, that Mick has such expensive tastes. Because the Stones feel to me as though they still have a future, and this is at a time - I'm probably just speaking as a fan here, but that's how I feel - and this is a time when most sensible artists their age are doing this kind of thing. It's too easy! You get a room, air ticket... Seriously - whatever they do, they can only embelish an already sinister reputation for miracles. And to Mick, Keith, Charlie, Bill, and Ronnie, to Mick Taylor, and of course, to the late Brian Jones, and to the late Ian Stuart - I don't know how many of you know Ian - I offer thanks on all our behalves. Without you all there, there wouldn't have been a London R&B scene at all in the '60s - that's what I feel. What there was of it wouldn't have come to much. And that's where I grew up, and then later, grew strangely down. But in a way, it's where a big part of me still is, and where Jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker cannot be regarded as rock and roll enough to induct here - no matter; their musical blood runs in the veins of this band we honor tonight. And so to the Stones and all the as yet uninducted black R&B artists - and I've put here 'they ripped off' - that they were influenced by, I offer solidarity. That's how I feel. I mean, it's been so great to see all these different threads come together, and for me, this evening, it's been, as I said, an education. So much of what I am I got from you, the Stones, and I had no idea most of it was alread second-hand. Seriously, the Stones - no more gags - the Stones are the greatest for me. There's some wonderful artists we've seen tonight, and many other[s] inducted in the past, and many will be in the future. There are some giant artists here tonight. But the Stones will always be the greatest for me. They epitomize British rock for me, and even though they're all now my friends, I'm still a fan. Guys, whatever you do, don't try and grow old gracefully; it wouldn't suit you."