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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pete Townshend: The rest of the story. Who he REALLY is.

"Who Are You? I Really Wanna Know"

Does anybody really know anybody? You think you do, but do you really? Probably not.

" 5 percent has been accurate. The rest I stopped bothering denying it. It's a bit of a pain in the ass."

-Alanis Morisette

The problem with not denying lies is that people start to believe that it is true if you don't.

When I was growing up--long before the internet--we listened to the radio because we only had one TV in the living room and another in my parents room that we weren't allowed to watch. Because of that, I listened a lot to the radio. Mostly music, Top 40, but I also often heard Paul Harvey for two minutes after the 5 o'clock news.

I loved Paul Harvey. He told great stories and he had a way of presenting them that always made you want to listen as long as it took. I am sure he did many other great things in his life, but all I will ever remember are those 5 minute stories on the radio. That is my memory and how I remember him. His big thing was "the rest of the story." And now you know..... the rest of the story. 
Of course, life doesn't work like that,  particularly life in this day and age. And there was a lot more to Paul Harvey's story, and I will tell you the rest of the story there too. I didn't know it until this blog, and you probably don't either.,,311252,00.html 

But the former lead singer of the Mamas and the Papas was not felled by a sandwich. A week after her July 29, 1974, death in London, a coroner ruled that the 33-year-old had died of a heart attack. No food blocked her throat, and although she sometimes indulged, no alcohol or drugs were in her blood. However unchic, her death was from natural causes — in effect, from obesity. 

Many of us still think Mama Cass died because she choked on a ham sandwich. But she did not. She died of a heart attack. Yes, there was a ham sandwich near her when she died. But that is not what caused her death. As well, many of us thought that Pete Townshend was one of those guys that liked child porn. I heard that once briefly in passing and until four months ago, thought that it was true. He was arrested for it once, but it was a mistake and he was cleared of that because he simply didn't do what they said he did.
Now, I know better. Now, I know the rest of the story.  The fact is...nothing could be farther from the truth. 
Now, if you are reading this, you will also know better as well. 

I love the Who's music, but I know very little about them. They are the type of group where the music is so iconic that it speaks for itself. 

While on my latest road trip in October of 2012, I happened to be in the hotel eating area getting my free (paid for with the room) breakfast in Kearny, Nebraska. While I was doing that, on that Sunday morning, the TV in that area had the CBS Sunday morning news on. They had a 12 minute feature on Pete Townshend, who had a new book of memoirs out. It was a great interview. And it dispelled my notion that Pete Townshend viewed child porn for pleasure. In this profile, I got the rest of the story.

 "Hello Americans, I'm Paul Harvey. You know what the news is, in a minute, you're going to hear ... the rest of the story."

It seems that Pete Townshend had a very hard life as a youngster. Many of the great songs that Townshend wrote for the Who (including all of Tommy, which was a semi autobiographical tale of his actual youth) derived from his troubled childhood. In that, I mean that he was abandoned by his parents at a very young age and left with his extremely mentally unstable grandmother, who exposed him to many men who likely abused him,  both sexually and emotionally.
Because of that, Pete Townshend is a staunch advocate against child porn.
It seems he wanted to prove that big corporations are involved in facilitating the distribution of child porn. He was actually campaigning against it. So he logged on one night in 1999 and used his credit card to log onto a site, then immediately canceled the account to show how easy it was and that major banks were making money off the industry and trade of pics and videos of child porn. Once. That's it. He purchased nothing. He stored nothing.
Because of that, in 2003 it somehow came to the attention of the police who were investigating it. They then seized 11 of his computers, and found not one piece of evidence that he had any child porn. Anyone that knows anything about pedophiles knows that they keep thousands of images stored, either in photographs or images on their computer. It is like crack cocaine to a drug addict. They searched 11 of his computers and found nothing. Not one. But the headlines did not reflect that. 

That was the headline in 2003 when he was arrested. Many, like me did not read the article but just heard the soundbite. In the article, he said then everything he says now.

"They found nothing. There was nothing. I hadn't searched for any child pornography or downloaded any" 

Do you feel like you are past it? 
Well, we are talking about it now.

-From the CBS Interview 


Did Townshend take the right approach in trying to draw attention to this problem? Probably not. However, he was tarred with a feather that was clearly inaccurate, and it has stuck with him, almost to this day. I am well read and try to keep up, and if I had not stumbled onto that Sunday morning interview, I still would not know the truth. The rest of the story.
Which brings us back to Paul Harvey. 

I love learning about people. What they do, where they came from. I used to just spend hours watching the Biography channel. As I said earlier, I love Paul Harvey's style and stories. In many circles he is considered a true American hero. Pure. He can do no wrong. And don't get me wrong, he had a great talent and mostly lived a pretty good life. But if you did deeper, you find out about the things that most don't want you to know about him. Such as:

 While in the army in 1943-1944, Harvey received a discharge due to what some say was a psychological discharge after what some claim was an accident in which he deliberately injured his foot so he could get out of service. There is no proof either way, so we won't ever know the rest of the story. Harvey denies the allegation, but was vague with details and has no proof. In fact,  there is no proof either way. Some could argue that there is but because of his clout it wasn't properly investigated years later.

 While working for a radio station in Chicago in 1946, one of Harvey's main topics was lax security at Nuclear test sites operated by the government and private firms.

To demonstrate his concern, just after midnight on February 6, 1951, Harvey engaged in an "act of participatory journalism"; as The Washington Post described it in 2010, after obtaining 1400 pages of the FBI file on Harvey:
Harvey guided his black Cadillac Fleetwood toward Argonne, arriving sometime past midnight. He parked in a secluded spot, tossed his overcoat onto the barbed wire topping a fence, then scampered over....Harvey['s plan was] to scratch his signature on 'objects that could not possibly have been brought to the site by someone else,' according to a statement later given by an off-duty guard who accompanied him....But seconds after Harvey hit the ground, security officers spotted him....Harvey ran until, caught in a Jeep's headlights, he tripped and fell. As guards approached, Harvey sprang to his feet and waved. Guards asked whether Harvey realized he was in a restricted area. Harvey replied no, that he thought he might be at the airport because of the red lights.....Harvey told the authorities he had been headed to a neighboring town to give a speech when his car died....Under questioning, Harvey eventually dropped his cover story but refused to elaborate, saying he wanted to tell his tale before a congressional committee. Guards searched his Cadillac and found ... a four-page, typewritten script for an upcoming broadcast. Harvey, it turned out, had planned from the outset to feed the nation a bogus account of his escapade: "I hereby affirm the following is a true and accurate account," the script began. "My friend and I were driving a once-familiar road, when the car stalled....We started to walk....We made no effort to conceal our presence....Suddenly I realized where I was. That I had entered, unchallenged, one of the United States' vital atomic research installations....Quite by accident, understand, I had found myself inside the 'hot' area....We could have carried a bomb in, or classified documents out.

-From Wikipedia

Because of that stunt, the Attorney General of Illinois was going to indict Harvey but Harvey went on the radio and claimed he was being set up and the Grand Jury would not indict him.

As stated a few times, I loved Paul Harveys signature program which included "The Rest of The Story."
However, Harvey and his network insisted and stated many times that the stories he told were entirely true. Many dispute that and a few have investigated those stories and found that there is no record of them at all other than that Harvey claims they are true stories.

"I have a copy of Harvey's book For What It's Worth (1991) which I annotated for the urban legends I found," Brunvand wrote in response to my inquiry--"Nine stories, for sure, including several classics. Thus, I take his title to signify that these are 'worth' little as truth, but perhaps more as amusing fiction. The trouble is that many Americans get much of their 'news' from Paul Harvey."

 -Jan Harold Brunvand

 There were also criticisms that he read advertising on his shows as if they were news stories and that because of his status and that he was so trusted by average Americans, he took advantage of that to get richer and not be objective.

 Salon magazine called him the "finest huckster ever to roam the airwaves." Some have argued that Harvey's fawning and lavish product endorsements may be misleading or confusing to his audience. Harvey's endorsed products included EdenPure heaters, Bose radios, Select Comfort mattresses, and Hi-Health dietary supplements, including a supplement that was claimed to improve vision but was later the subject of a Federal Trade Commission enforcement action against the manufacturer (but not Harvey himself) for misleading claims made on Harvey's show.

 -From Wikipedia

Again, I love Paul Harvey's stories. I grew up on them and I still listen to them. But he had an image and it is clear he used it to his advantage. There is nothing wrong with that. Lots of people do that. Tiger Woods did that to earn millions in advertising before he was caught with his girlfriends. Does that make him less of an entertaining and prolific golfer? No. Same goes for Paul Harvey. But the key is to remember that the image is not the man, and the story is not always the whole story. 
As I listen to the stories now that Paul Harvey told I listen differently.  Sure they can move me, but I don't know if I believe that they are true, as I once did. And at one point, because I didn't know the rest of the story, I thought Pete Townshend was a child molester. Now, I don't. I know "the rest of the story."

 Just remember, (and in today's soundbite world more than ever) that there is always more to the story than you are being shown in a 10 second headline or soundbite. Always get "The rest of the story" before you come to a conclusion. I am glad I stumbled onto that Nebraska eating room on that Sunday morning. The rest of the story found me. But I have learned now that I need to find it first. Not trust what mass media only wants me to know. 

Now we know who Pete Townshend and Paul Harvey really are. 



  1. One of your best blogs, Mark! I was entralled from start to finish... not sure where you were headed but as I read, I sensed that there was going to be a surprise. And it was a good one indeed. I thoroughly enjoyed this one! And now I, too, know "the rest of the story."

    well done.

  2. I actually knew most of this information, since I am a huge Paul Harvey fan. But there was a few points I didn't know and the rest I was glad to refresh my memory. I know some stories were very factual, since I studied them before I heard him say it on the radio, but said it with such flair, such suspense, that I still sat at the edge of my seat to listen. I even have several of his books, which I really need to find in one of my boxes and re-read them. I love them so much.


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