‘Rough Boys’ Single: Pete Townshend Rounds Off A Solo Chart Year

In November 1980, the Who guitarist and writer made his third solo entry of the year on the Hot 100.

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Pete Townshend 'Rough Boys' artwork - Courtesy: UMG
Pete Townshend 'Rough Boys' artwork - Courtesy: UMG

Pete Townshend’s achievements aren’t often measured in pure commercial terms, but the year of 1980 was a notable one for The Who’s chief songwriter as a solo artist. His album Empty Glass became a Top 5, platinum-selling record in the US, and on November 15 that year, he made the last of three entries onto the Billboard Hot 100.

The album had already yielded the Top 10 US hit “Let My Love Open The Door” and a lesser success with “A Little Is Enough” when the new chart showed a new entry for “Rough Boys.” Earlier in the year, the rocky, punk-influenced track had already given Townshend his only UK Top 40 single, when it edged to No.39. Across the Atlantic, it peaked at No.89.

Let My Love Open The Door

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Songs from Empty Glass remained favorites of Pete’s in his solo shows for a long time to come. In 1993, for example, a typical show on that year’s tour at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles saw him open with “Let My Love Open The Door” and “Rough Boys” in a concert that lasted all of three hours.

When he spoke to the NME about Empty Glass at the time of its release, Townshend mused about the differences between his solo and band work. “My album – though I was able to take a lot more risks with the material than The Who would – could have been a Who album if we’d happened to be recording at that time,” he said. “Just as the Who album that we’re doing now [which became 1981’s Face Dances] could have been a solo album.

Listen to the best of Pete Townshend on Apple Music and Spotify.

“I just decided to write – to write straight from the hip and offer everything to the project that’s going at the time, not earmark stuff. I think that what’s quite interesting is the way that l do a song as distinct from the way that The Who would do it, and I don’t want to deny myself all the Who-type material because, y’know, that’s what I am.”

Buy or stream “Rough Boys” on Empty Glass.



  1. Virginia Witecki

    November 15, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    Pete, hi after many moons! Loved all your solo work! I’m 61, so I’ve been there, since the very beginning! Unfortunately, I missed any Who concerts.I still ha e the vinyl though. Love & peace.

  2. Gisabun

    November 15, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    When is a deluxe edition coming out?

  3. Ronnie Yapo

    November 16, 2016 at 6:28 am

    Pete Townshend is one of the best songwriter’s in our lifetime. Quadrophenia, All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, Empty Glass, Who’s Next are my best albums in that order.

  4. Ross Johnson

    November 16, 2017 at 12:55 am

    Pete solo has always been totally underrated! Very unique songwriter! Always want more!

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