Peter Townshend, Meher Baba, and Me ► Throwback Thursday
Kathy Hahn took this pic around the time I met Pete Townshend

When I first started my writing career, some 40+ years ago, it was to write about the music industry.

A college friend and I started up a small music publication called Zoundz (with a backwards zedd on the end). It was the first music rag of its kind in Toronto, a FREE publication that coud be scored at the cash register of every record store in Toronto, including the big 2: Sam The Record Man and A&A Records, located next door to Sam’s.

Later I started writing for Cheap Thrills, the house organ of Concert Productions International (CPI). It was the biggest concert promoter in the city because it had a lock on Maple Leaf Gardens, the biggest venue in the city.

For both publications I wrote album reviews, critiqued Rock and Roll concerts, and was able to hobnob backstage with some of the greats of the industry. It’s all about reputation, of course. Once I had developed some respectability, promoters and record company reps would call me up to offer interviews with some of their celebrities, which is how I came to interview Peter Townshend, of The Who.

Townshend was a follower of Meher Baba, a spiritual leader who claimed to be the Avatar, defined by the Wiki as: 

In Hinduism, an avatar (/ˈævəˌtɑːr, ˌævəˈtɑːr/;[1] Hindustani: [əʋˈt̪aːr] from Sanskrit अवतार avatāra “descent”) is a deliberate descent of a deity to Earth, or a descent of the Supreme Being (e.g., Vishnu for Vaishnavites), and is mostly translated into English as “incarnation“, but more accurately as “appearance” or “manifestation”.[2][3] 

The phenomenon of an avatar is observed in Hinduism,[4] Ayyavazhi, and Sikhism[citation needed]. Avatar is regarded as one of the core principles of Hinduism.[5]

I remember so very little about the interview with Townshend because I was nervous and — after all — it was 40 years ago. I don’t even remember which publication bought this interview (and can’t seem to find it in my archives. Maybe it was a radio interview instead). However, I will never forget the secret code I had to use to get past the front desk at the hotel and the doorkeeper at Townshend’s hotel room:

“Temple, eel, and ocean: Baba rules them all.”

I was already somewhat familiar with the teachings of Meher Baba because my dear friend Kathy Hahn, who I worked with at Island Records Canada, was also a devoté of Baba’s. We were both delighted that Townshend was using a Baba quote as his secret password. 

While you may have not heard of Meher Baba before, you are certainly familiar with his most famous quote:

“Don’t worry. Be happy.”
Today is Meher Baba’s 122nd birthday. He died in 1969, but still has tens of thousands of followers around the world. You can find out more about Meher Baba at these websites:

 …and his many words of wisdom can
be found at Maher Baba Wikiquotes.

About Headly Westerfield

Calling himself “A liberally progressive, sarcastically cynical, iconoclastic polymath,” Headly Westerfield has been a professional writer all his adult life.

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