What a fantastic two months these have been. The tour of Italy was so much fun to do, it now feels as though I dreamt it. It was “that” good an experience. The people, the country, the chaos and the beauty, not to mention the food ! What more could one wish for? It was so great to see some old friends and meet some new ones in more relaxed venues than The Who usually play. I hope I get the chance to do it again before I come off the road. The Italian fans were a joy to perform to. Their passion for the music is almost touchable. I hope their economy picks up for them as I know times are tough for many, but at least they have each other, and that beautiful country to live in.
The Teenage Cancer Trust shows were an enormous success this year and Paul McCartney really pulled out all the stops to make everyone feel at home and to Ronnie Wood too. Paul Weller and Kelly Jones were at their best doing acoustic sets with a great looking string quartet. I owe them a very special thank you for supporting me in putting a show on that night.Thanks also to Steve Winwood and Amy McDonald for making the night perfect for me. Without all their support the Albert Hall would’ve been dark. Example turned the hall into the best “Club” event in town. When the seats in the arena are taken out and the floor’s filled with ravers, it’s a special sight indeed. Pulp were on fire on their night and I was very impressed with Jarvis Cocker. He has a wonderful resonance to his voice that isn’t always apparent on the records. Jessie J brought back memories of the early days of fame for the Who, lots of screaming, but at least with modern sound systems you can hear what a great voice she has above the din. Jason Manford did a great job of hosting the comedy night, and all the comedians were on top for as usual. There’s something about Comedians I envy – no fuss, no back line, nothing but themselves while walking the razor’s edge. Florence ended the week with something completely different to what she usually does, and sang with the Machine as an orchestra. This is one classy lady, and boy can she sing. A fabulously fitting ending to a great week of entertainment at the Royal Albert Hall.
PS I know there was a lot of publicity about people who own their seats at the Albert Hall making a profit out of charitable events. The only thing I can say is that the Albert Hall Trust has been very generous to the Teenage Cancer Trust over the years, and if there is a problem they will fix it. If people are making a profit out of events like this, then live with your consciences.
At the end of April, it was time to fly to Japan. Life threw a curved ball at the band two days before we were due to get there. John Button, our bass player, was was involvedinvolved in a motor cycle accident and broke his ankle and his wrist. The doctors told him there would be no way he could travel . I have always understood how much fans put themselves out to support the artist. I knew there were people travelling from Europe to see us. Thank the universe for Frank Symes, who found someone to rise to the challenge of learning Tommy and the Hits in two days, ‘cos that’s a lot of work. Jamie Hunting must have been a nervous wreck when he walked out on stage that first night in Tokyo, but boy did he rise to the challenge. Well, done, Jamie, and a big extra thanks from me. I loved being in Japan.,what a country, what people. Such beauty, warmth, dignity and grace. We couldn’t have been made more welcome. They took the spirit of Tommy to their heart and made it their own. The experience of spending time with them, performing to them, being in their company is something that will stay with me. Thank you.
I flew from Japan to LA on the 1st May to do the Jimmy Kimmel show on the 3rd. This part of my trip was to promote Teen Cancer America i.e. the US version of UK’s Teenage Cancer Trust. These talk shows always have to be light hearted events and it was very gracious of Jimmy to give me the chance to even mention Teenagers with Cancer on his show. Thanks Jimmy. I enjoyed meeting you. The best thing to happen that day came when I was going back to my dressing room after the show. Standing in front of me with a beautiful smile on her face was Ally Newman, who I’d last in isolation at UCLA. She was really going through the wars at that time, but now here she was, hair growing back, looking radiant and graduating the next day. Presents don’t come better than that. Congratulations, Ally.
From LA, I travelled with Rebecca Rothstein who has been fundamental in making the UCLA centre possible and Dr Jackie Cassillas who works for UCLA, to North Carolina. We had a meeting with the doctors and Staff at Duke University Hospital. This was the result of intensive lobbying by my good friends the Sterner family. Their daughter Sarah experienced the isolation teenagers go through when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of 15. She’s now 18 and is proving to be a fantastic ambassador for Teen Cancer USA. I’m so lucky to have found someone who is so articulate and who’s been on the sharp end of being treated for cancer within the US system, to bang the drum for this cause. My special thanks to Mike and Judy Sterner too. They really are a wonderful family and I send them my love.
From NC We went on to New Haven Connecticut, Yale University Hospital. Again the doctors and the Staff went out of their way to make us welcome. My special thanks to Dr Glenn Taylor who worked so hard to make this one happen. Both these hospitals were interested in what we were starting at UCLA and wanted to find out more about what we were trying to achieve. I must say that it seemed to me that most of the doctors and Staff of both hospitals were sympathetic to our vision. They all agreed that someone of 13 yrs old would not have much in common with someone of forty, which is the present age range for Adolescents and Young Adults in the US. They also agree that 13 – 21 yr old are “different”. My observation of both of the Hospitals I visited was that the facilities for Children and Adults were excellent, providing everything one could want for these age groups. The thing that they sadly lacked, and very apparent to me(!), were ANY areas where a teenager could feel psychologically comfortable, with other teens for company and the healing that comes from social interaction. America does not have a problem of medicine. In may ways their ahead of us (in the UK) in many fields. I would like to know is WHY?! This is an administrative problem that with goodwill and cooperation can be sorted out relatively quickly and cheaply as long as people open their eyes to the unnecessary isolation heaped on teenagers within their hospitals.
If you are interested in changing the present situation, get busy online and on twitter, rattle the cage and wake up the powers that be.
Teen Cancer America on TWITTER. On FACEBOOK