Empty Glass

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Empty Glass
Studio album by
Released21 April 1980
StudioEel Pie Studios and A.I.R. Studios, London, UK
LabelAtco Records
ProducerChris Thomas
Pete Townshend chronology
Rough Mix
Empty Glass
All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[2]
Christgau's Record GuideB−[3]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[4]
Mojo4/5 stars[5]
Record Collector4/5 stars[7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[8]
Smash Hits7/10[9]

Empty Glass, released in 1980, is the first solo album of original material, and third album overall, by Pete Townshend.

It deals with issues that Townshend was struggling with, including alcoholism, drug abuse, marital problems and deceased friends, particularly Keith Moon, The Who's drummer, who died in 1978.

Empty Glass contained the devotional love song, "Let My Love Open the Door", which became a top ten hit in the US, and the modestly successful singles "Rough Boys" and "A Little Is Enough".

The album was rated No. 57 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest of the 1980s. A Gibson poll rated it at No. 5 among "the greatest albums released by an artist who was previously in a successful band".


In an interview with Murray Lerner on the film The Who: Live at the Isle of Wight, Townshend explained the album's title:

I called it Empty Glass, 'cause of this idea that when you go to the tavern – which is to God, you know – and you ask for His love – He's the bartender, you know – and He gives you a drink, and what you have to give Him is an empty glass. You know there's no point giving Him your heart if it's full already; there's no point going to God if your heart's full of Doris.

This concept was derived from the work [10] of the Persian poet Hafez, which Townshend became interested in from his involvement with Avatar, Meher Baba.

The album was written and recorded between 1978 and 1980, when activity with The Who had started to pick up again, and Townshend found himself having to write for both his solo project and his band. As a result, Empty Glass was considered superior to The Who's 1981 album Face Dances, with critics calling it a Who album that never was.

Roger Daltrey later commented that he felt let down by Townshend, and that many of the songs from the album would have worked well for The Who, among them "Rough Boys" and "Empty Glass". Townshend countered by saying that "Rough Boys" was the one song Daltrey would have wanted clarified (in terms of the song's homoerotic subtext) and toned down were he to sing it, thus defeating its message, while "Empty Glass" had been recorded during sessions for Who Are You in 1978; a version featuring Keith Moon on drums and John Entwistle on bass appeared on the 1996 reissue of that album. This version is notable for suicidal undertones in the lyrics that were changed for Empty Glass: the line "Killing each other, then we jump off the ledge" became "Killing each other by driving a wedge".

The album was produced by Chris Thomas, whose credits included Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon and The Pretenders' debut album. "For a long time," Townshend said, "I wanted to work with Todd Rundgren, and I asked him to produce my solo album which he agreed to do. And then I suddenly realised it probably wasn’t a good idea because we’re so alike in a lot of ways. I would like to work with him. I think he’s a better guitar player than me and a better singer but I think what really worried me about the prospect of him producing my solo album was that I’m influenced by him enough as it is. Do you understand? And I like the way I’m influenced by him at the moment."[11]

Cover art[edit]

The sleeve was designed by photographer Bob Carlos Clarke.[12] The album's title is an allusion to a poem by the Sufi poet Hafez.[13]

The sleeve of the vinyl album (SD 33–100) includes this dedication:

This album is dedicated to my wife Karen.
"Rough Boys" is dedicated to my children Emma and Minta and to the Sex Pistols.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Pete Townshend.

1."Rough Boys"4:02
2."I Am an Animal"3:51
3."And I Moved"3:21
4."Let My Love Open the Door"2:44
5."Jools and Jim"2:36
6."Keep on Working"3:23
7."Cat's in the Cupboard"3:34
8."A Little Is Enough"4:42
9."Empty Glass"5:25
10."Gonna Get Ya"6:25
Bonus tracks (Included only on the 2006 Hip-O US and Imperial Japan CD Release)
11."I Am an Animal" (Demo alternate vocal version)3:48
12."Keep on Working" (Demo alternate vocal version)3:32
13."And I Moved" (Demo alternate vocal version)3:06
14."Gonna Get Ya" (Work in progress long version)11:24

Non-album tracks[edit]

  1. "Classified" (Demo Recorded in 1970 Released as a B-side on several 1980 European single releases of "Let My Love Open the Door")
  2. "Greyhound Girl" (B-side to "Let My Love Open the Door" EP in Europe)
  3. "Let My Love Open the Door" (Alternative Mix from the 1996 UK CD Single)




AlbumBillboard (United States)

Year Chart Position
1980 Pop Albums 5

Singles – Billboard (United States)

Year Single Chart Position
1980 "Let My Love Open The Door" Pop Singles 9
1980 "Rough Boys" Pop Singles 89
1980 "A Little Is Enough" Pop Singles 72
1980 "Keep on Working" Pop Singles


Country Organization Year Sales
USA RIAA 1996 Platinum (+ 1,000,000)[14]


  1. ^ Townshend 2012, pp. 318-320.
  2. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Empty Glass – Pete Townshend". AllMusic. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert (1990). "Peter Townshend: Empty Glass". Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s. Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-679-73015-X. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  4. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  5. ^ "Pete Townshend: Empty Glass". Mojo: 111. The songs are so hard and strong they made the band jealous and Townshend's singing lets rip the harsh energy Roger Daltrey gave voice to in The Who.
  6. ^ Bergstrom, John (12 December 2006). "Pete Townshend: Empty Glass". PopMatters. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  7. ^ Davenport, Rich (25 December 2016). "Pete Townshend – Empty Glass (Remastered)". Record Collector (461). Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  8. ^ "Pete Townshend: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 5 February 2011. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  9. ^ Starr, Red (1–14 May 1980). "Pete Townshend: Empty Glass". Smash Hits: 29.
  10. ^ Giles, Jeff (21 April 2015). "The History of Pete Townshend's First Proper Solo Album, 'Empty Glass'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  11. ^ Sound International, April 1980
  12. ^ "Album Cover Art – Pete Townshend – Empty Glass". Tralfaz-archives.com. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  13. ^ Giles, Jeff (21 April 2015). "The History of Pete Townshend's First Proper Solo Album, 'Empty Glass'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  14. ^ RIAA Gold and Platinum Search for albums by Pete Townshend. Retrieved on 2013-06-30.