Pete Townshend's 'Lifehouse' Set For Graphic Novel Treatment

Pete Townshend's 1970 Lifehouse "rock opera" will be developed as a 150-page graphic novel set for publication in July 2020, "with an eye to developing a movie and television projects." Lifehouse, which was originally optioned to Universal Pictures back in the day, was conceived as Townshend's followup to the Who's Tommy, and eventually had its music pared down to a single album in 1971, which comprised the band's classic 1971 Who's Next collection. Over the years, Townsend has revived the concept as a radio play and live performance.

Variety reported that Townshend has partnered with the sci-fi magazine Heavy Metal, with Lifehouse "set in a dystopian world that relates to today’s themes of politics, global warming, and technological reliance." The upcoming graphic novel will be written and illustrated by James Harvey, based on Townshend's screenplay and songs.

Pete Townshend explained, "Even by 1971 when Lifehouse was written, it had to be treated as a film script, which was entirely beyond my skill set, and beyond the financial scope of the Who. If I had completed my art studies, instead of staying with the Who, I might have made my own graphic novels. I am excited then, with huge anticipation, that at last Lifehouse can be realized visually, and as a story -- part science fiction, part spiritual allegory."

Pete Townshend told us that although "Baba O'Riley" -- a key song in the Lifehouse story -- has been a radio and concert staple for the band for decades, most of the Who's fans still don't have a clue what the song is really about: "'Baba O'Riley,' y'know that song was meant to be the opening music, the back story to the movie that was going to be Lifehouse. So, it's not about getting wasted, it's about the fact that we, at that time, back in those days, we seemed to as a society (to) have our way of giving our young people a sense of value."

The Who kicks off its 2019 "Moving On!" tour on May 7th at Grand Rapids, Michigan's Van Andel Arena.