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December 9, 2012

TOUR DIARY – December 9th, 2012

The Clown who plays Ukelele.


It occurs to me that Roger’s first TCA ‘ambassador’ Sarah Sterner, who tells a funny story about being entertained by a clown playing ukelele when she was recovering from cancer treatment, might not be so funny for the clown in question. She did not sneer at this clown. She used him as an example to make a distinction between what little kids enjoy in hospital, and what teenagers prefer.


I have repeated the story a few times, playing it for laughs. Then I suddenly remembered that once or twice in my life I have portrayed myself as that very clown, pounding stages.


The volunteer, dressing up and going to paediatric wards to entertain children, does so out of love and duty, and I must be careful to make very sure here that I do not sneer at what this clown, who volunteers to entertain and nurture young people in hospital, is doing. It is a high calling.


Roger’s pitch is that Sarah says she needed something different, more grown up, more TEENAGED.  Sarah agrees, so we must accept their mission.


A young woman recovering from cancer might prefer the clown to go in without the costume, dressed in his street clothes, with a guitar rather than a ukelele, reveal himself as a bit of handsome dude, gaze in her eyes, and sing her some of his coolest love songs……..Sarah is certainly beautiful enough to merit the music.


You know what I mean. But if you’re a little kid, a clown with uke is very cool. If you’re a teenager God only knows what you’ll think is cool.


- Pete Townshend. December 9th, 2012

For www.thewho.com






53 Responses to TOUR DIARY – December 9th, 2012

Robert says: April 3, 2013 at 6:26 am


Got pulled, bogus busted, cuffed & canned in front of greenville sc show.
Worse f,ing night of my life. Asshole cops looking to hassle fans…got me.
Read the book …loved it… Moving…saw u guys 3 times long ago.
Lived Quad in 1973… Fav album of all time.
My kids say at the beach…daddy why do you always sing that song…a beach is aplace where a man can feel…hes the only soul in the world thats real.

Bailed out next day but missed show…lost my scalped 300 ticket…impounded incar. 5k for lawyers
Pete. Would come to uk if you could help. My wife suffered that night more than me.
Will send you police report if you want proof.
Love you man, love the music….always will.
I dont suppose u would remember me, but I used to follow u back in “73..”
Hoping you can see the real me….i am one.

heidi Burbey says: March 15, 2013 at 6:00 am

In my copy of “Who Am I” (still haven’t read the entire book, yet, I must confess)Karen is in the second to last page of the acknowledgements, so this “mistake” is confusing to me. My old friends and co-workers: a children’s music therapist who wore only his street clothes and a guitar, mesmerized the little listeners and our boss, who was/is a ukelele playing clown, both have my deep respect for their total dedication to the well-being and future of children. My boss also bestowed to me her boundless knowledge, even though I never learned to play a musical instrument. But to Mr. Townshend, I certainly would not be alive if it weren’t for you. Yet, if anyone who is still alive has a right to be angry at you, it is me, and at the moment i feel shock! OHM

Mark Plunkett says: March 7, 2013 at 5:42 pm

I just finished the book as well, and truly enjoyed it. But I am not at all surprised by the omission of Karen in the credits. Pete has moved on.

Mr. Townshend, I greatly admire your honesty in the book. And, I hope you are not offended by this, but I pray for you a great deal, that you may be able to deal with those things that cause you great turmoil. It is often ironic how life works—I first heard “Tommy” at age 13, and it absolutely changed my world. My favorite album of all time. And then, at 33, I became a father to a deaf son. He is 23 now, a huge Who fan like myself, and has accomplished much more than anyone ever could have imagined.

I just wanted to say “thank you” for your many songs and writings that have touched my life for the past 44 years. You’ve meant a lot to me along the way.

Chris P. Bacon says: March 5, 2013 at 6:42 am

Pete, Pete, Pete…

Finished reading your new book, and it was an eye opening journey. Not quite the glamorous fairytale that rock’n’roll is supposed to be, but I’m grateful for you telling it like it is.

And so I got to the end, and I’m reading the credits, and I thought I’d missed seeing your first wife’s name there. So I checked again. Nope, no credit or thanks to Karen.

Well it’s your book, and your decision, but from this fab’s perspective, it makes you look like a twat. The woman clearly loved you, and tolerated a truckload of crap from you over the years (and gave some, too, I have no doubt) but to wallpaper over her support and caring – at times when you needed it the most – just makes you look bitter and jaded.

Sorry, mate – but that’s the sort of thing a schoolboy does, not a rock icon.

Very disappointed.


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