Pete Townshend recently lost it at an Ontario, Canada performance of the Who’s Quadrophenia after spotting a sign in the crowd he found offensive.
Unfortunately, the target of his fury included a seven-year-old girl.
The guitarist spotted the girl and her father in the crowd holding a sign that said “Smash Your Guitar, Pete!” While Townshend was known for ending every Who show by destroying his guitar, he has done away with the practice later in life.
Townshend said to the girl and her father “Go away with that sign please, just go away with it, just go away with it. Don’t bring your children, use them. I want to tell you two words but I can’t because you’ve got a child there.”
He then mouthed the words “fuck off” in the direction of the girl and her father.
The action brought swift criticism from a number of fronts leading to Townshend writing a letter of apology to the father and daughter.
Apologies and condolences from my side, and very best wishes to you and your family.
I asked my friend Mike Tyler to find you so I could tell you that I am so sorry the story about us blew up the way it did, but also to tell you that I sympathize with you both, and your daughter’s mother, and that I am most certainly not angry. I was not angry on stage either. I was in rock star mode, the big mouth.
I could have handled it differently. I thought of sending someone to find you both and telling you I was not upset, but we were flying to New York straight after the show, and had no time to spare. I wish things had been different. It would have saved you from all this furor.
I thought your placard was fun. I had a job to do (to announce our musicians) and I didn’t want to lengthen the show by trying to deal with you directly and in detail. I was also worried that your daughter looked a little frightened as the crowd started to follow you down the aisle. The ushers should not have let you leave your seats and walk forward. All that said, you did nothing wrong.