British rocker Pete Townshend's memory is so sharp he can remember fans' names years after meeting them - and he loves to surprise unsuspecting fans with warm greetings.

The Who guitarist has trained his brain to recall names and places of admirers, even decades after their encounter and he is thrilled by peoples' reactions.

And he is amazed his memory hasn't been affected by his excessive drinking.

Townshend says, "Sometimes, walking along the street I see a face I recognise.

"I smile and stop. 'Hi, how are you?' I say. 'When did I last see you?'

"Sometimes the person I address looks bemused. 'You don't know me,' they might say. 'We've never met. But I was in the crowd in New York in 19...'"

"I ask their name and years later if I see them again there is a chance that it will come into my mind.

"If I trust myself I will say that name and they are amazed at the power of the human brain - especially an addled one like mine, pickled in Cognac for nearly 10 years."