Simon Townshend (/ˈtaʊnzənd/; born 10 October 1960) is a British guitarist, singer and songwriter. He is the younger brother of The Who's guitarist Pete Townshend, and is most associated with The Who and the various side projects of its original members. Simon Townshend has also performed with numerous other acts including Pearl Jam, Dave Grohl and Jeff Beck.
Townshend was born in Chiswick, London, the same area and town where older brother Pete Townshend was born and he grew up into a musical family. He was the youngest of three male children born to Cliff Townshend, a professional saxophonist in The Squadronaires and his wife Betty Townshend (née Dennis), who had an early career as a singer. By the time he was born, his farther's career as a jazz musician was winding down, while his oldest brother Pete Townshend became successful as the primary songwriter of the rock band The Who in the mid-1960s. At the age of nine, Simon Townshend recorded backing vocals to the track "Smash the Mirror" with Paul Townshend on The Who's rock opera Tommy and in 1975 appeared as the Newsboy in the 1975 film, Tommy.
In 1974, Townshend released his debut single When I'm a Man at the early age of 13 and 9 years later in 1983 he released his first solo album Sweet Sound and then Moving Target in 1985. In 1989 Simon Townshend also appeared on Pete Townshend's fifth solo album The Iron Man: The Musical by Pete Townshend, singing on the short song "Man Machines" and an alternative version of "Dig".
And in 1994 he toured with The Who's lead vocalist Roger Daltrey on the Daltrey Sings Townshend tour.
In 1996, after starting his own record label and production company, Stir Music, Simon Townshend released several other albums including studio and live performances. He joined The Who as a second guitarist for their Quadrophenia Tour in 1996 and 1997. He later rejoined the band as a full touring member in 2002 and has played with them on each of their tours since. Simon Townshend also joined Casbah Club in 2004, which included Bruce Foxton (Former bass guitarist for The Jam) and Mark Brzezicki (Former drummer for Big Country) and Bruce Watson (Former guitarist for Big Country), where he functioned as lead guitarist, lead vocalist and songwriter.
In 2006 Simon Townshend joined the European leg of The Who's tour, playing a support set with Casbah Club as well as performing with The Who (see The Who Tour 2006-2007). Simon Townshend played rhythm guitar, mandolin, and performed backing vocals.
He played a modified Fender Stratocaster with P-90 pick-ups. Simon Townshend also uses a signature guitar designed and developed by JJ Guitars in addition to their Retro Lux model.
His first credited collaboration with The Who involved participation as one of the supporting choralists for Ken Russell's film adaptation of Tommy which was released in 1975.
He also had contributed backing vocals to The Who's Endless Wire album in 2006.
On 11 August 2009 Simon joined Pearl Jam onstage at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London for a performance of "The Real Me" from The Who's Quadrophenia album.
In the fall of 2009, he embarked on a tour of the US with Roger Daltrey and the No Plan B band. The band continued touring in the spring of 2010, playing a number of dates in support of Eric Clapton. Further tours in 2011 and 2012 followed, with the band performing a complete version of Tommy.
In February 2012, he began his own tour of the UK, in support of his new album which has been credited as his most impactful solo recording to date "Looking Out Looking In", which London's Daily Express rated 5/5, calling it "utterly compelling" and naming Simon Townshend "a genuinely original talent."
His live band for this contained Tony Lowe (guitar), Phil Spalding (bass), and Greg Pringle (drums), His live shows have been variously described as "supercharged" (New York Times), "irresistible" (Washington Post) and a "catharsis" (Los Angeles Times). Billboard labelled him "impressive" and Goldmine affirmed, "truly enjoyable listening." In short, as London's Gig Guide said, "you would be a fool to miss him."
In the late summer and fall of 2012, he played with The Who on the Quadrophenia and More tour, which included a performance at the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony.