One Direction Defended by The Who’s Pete Townshend

Craig Rosen
Stop The Presses!

"I hope I die before I defend a boy band accused of ripping off one of my classics."

Those weren't quite the Pete Townshend-penned lyrics included in the Who's 1965 classic "My Generation." First of all, that's much too wordy to fit nicely in a song. Also, back then, the Who — along with the Rolling Stones and the Beatles — could have been described as "boy bands" themselves.

Fast forward to current times, and believe it or not, Townshend is actually defending One Direction from accusations they ripped off another one of his classics — the Who's 1971 hit "Baba O'Riley" — in their current hit "Best Song Ever," after a raging debate over the alleged song-theft turned up on Twitter.

Townshend said the Who aren't planning to take any legal action against One Direction. "No! I like the single. I like One Direction. The chords I used and the chords they used are the same three chords we've all been using in basic pop music since Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and Chuck Berry made it clear that fancy chords don't mean great music – not always," he explained.

"I'm still writing songs that sound like 'Baba O'Riley' – or I'm trying to! It's a part of my life and a part of pop's lineage," he continued. "One Direction are in my business, with a million fans, and I'm happy to think they may have been influenced a little bit by the Who. I'm just relieved they're all not wearing boiler suits and Doc Martens, or Union Jack jackets. The funniest thing is that in Canada this year I met with Randy Bachman, once the leader of Guess Who, who told me that he not only copied 'Baba O Riley' for their hit 'You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet,' but he even called his band after us. Why would I not be happy about this kind of tribute?"

Here are clips of both songs and we'll let you decide for yourself. (Note, the musical intro in the 1D clip, which does sound a bit Who-like, doesn't start until 2:10)

This isn't the first time that 1D has been accused of ripping off a rock classic. Last September, the band were accused of copping the opening riff of the Clash's 1982 hit "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" in their "Live While We're Young." Listen for yourself.

The Who, the Clash, covers of classics by Blondie, The Undertones and Wheatus. Who's next, 1D? The Sex Pistols, the Stones or the Buzzcocks? At least they have good taste in the songs they're inspired by and/or are covering.

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