Pete Townshend: Tour Diary – December 10th, 2012

The Clown who plays Ukelele.


It occurs to me that Roger’s first Teen Cancer America ‘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






14 thoughts on “Pete Townshend: Tour Diary – December 10th, 2012”

  1. Ellarr Whofan says:

    Good thoughts, well expressed. Thanks, Pete, for all you do.

  2. Lynn Eldredge says:


  3. Sarah Sterner says:

    Hey Pete!
    Was having a totally crappy weekend after fighting with a former friend and almost missing a shift at work tonight. Came home frustrated and distraught then I found this post and it totally cheered me up. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed my unfortunately true story and that you really understand the overall message. Of course I totally admire what the clowns and all of the great volunteers at the hospital do- a lot of them turned out to be pretty cool too! But yes, I was just a bit out of a comfortable age range by that time. And your volunteer idea sounds much more captivating 😉

    Hope you had a great tour, you guys rocked it! I hope to see you again sometime next year.

    Thanks so much again for everything.
    Sarah Sterner

    PS- If you get a few minutes and have ANY desire to do so, maybe read my blog. I wrote a bit about what your music and this charity means to me so I hope you might like it. ( Lots of love! Have a great holiday.

  4. D Stenger says:

    A very worthy cause. No one can imagine what a teenager has to go through when fighting cancer. Roger and Pete deserve our highest praise and support. God bless you.

  5. Gina B says:

    Lovely…if my own cancer returns, I would need a man to play the ukelele naked. In this way, I would definitely laugh until we both cry and laugh and cry and laugh and cry and laugh.

  6. Janet Massaro says:

    Sarah, I’m sure if that “clown” was Jake Shimabukuro, you’d be entirely captivated by the sound & by Jake! Hope you’re feeling better!
    Pete, Sorry I missed your concert here in the DC area (but have seen you many times before!), however, a friend in Connecticut tried to connect me to your concert tonight over the phone as a surprise – there was so much distortion, I could hardly make out what was happening, but did finally discern that it was you guys! Fantastic! Keep up the good work, all of you! And keep on rocking in NYC on Wednesday night! Cheers!

  7. velma mcdaniel says:

    I worked with Sarah’s dad, Mike for ten years & have known Sarah since she was two years old. Though we aren’t as close to her family as we used to be, I have folliwed Sarah’s journey throughout her illness & recovery. You couldn’t have picked a better spokesperson for your charity. God bless you all for all the good you are doing.

  8. don in CT says:

    Pete……..thanks for last night. 30 years in the making, but I finally got to see you live. You must be on special vitamins or something after seeing you last night. Don in CT

  9. joan parise says:

    i was at the mohegan show never saw you before so glad i did thanks it was better than expected, you brought me to tears with love reign over me wow

  10. stevefromny says:

    Anticipating what I might have considered to be one of the greatest music nights of my 51 years, was an understatement. Picture this. After winding through a dark, smoky filled gambling mecca, an Indian casino, and overfull from the buffet, and after losing fifteen dollars on one fifteen second hand of Blackjack, sorry,Dad, I walked to the line that would erase the evening’s bummers and leave me with a grin that has left more creases on may face that I feared wouldn’t show up until next year. Nonetheless there I finally stood. I was now in line to enter an arena that would present itself musicians that influenced rock music history. Who? That’s right. THE WHO. Sitting at the very top row next to me was my wife on one side and two strangers on the other, I think they were at the wrong show by the way, my standing and swaying appeared to annoy them, or they lost all of their money too. Getting to the music, AMAZING, getting to the the sound, more AMAZING, getting to my comment on two old guys playing old music, FANTASTIC !!.. Never sounded better, Daltry and Townsend sounded CRISP and STRONG. The band’s timing was on, the lights and video complimented the sound and I was able to see it all, us old folks watch the Show without recording it with raised arms. The evening was now complete after a few encores. I still can’t believe I was there. It was worth the long drive, Blackjack disaster and bloated gut. I thank the Band for their Cancer awareness programs and my permanent invisible grin. DO NOT MISS THIS BAND. PERIOD.

    1. EM says:

      My husband and I were also at the Mohegan Sun show and I am just so totally grateful that Roger and Pete are still out there doing their thing for us life long Who Fanatics! For me, seeing the show was a dream come true and I still can’t believe I was there! I am now plotting how I can possibly see them again…perhaps in NH in Feb 2013 although it would be a huge logistical and financial challenge. We also saw Roger’s out of this world performance of Tommy at the Htd Civic Center in Sept 2011 from the 3rd row center with tickets we only paid $125 for!!! Floor tickets for Mohegan Sun were astronomically priced by the demon scalpers! May they (the scalpers) suffer eternal damnation! In answer to the question, Who Are You? You are the best rock and roll band of all time!

  11. Freddy Voak says:

    Made the hairs on neck stand up. Superb. Best of the night.

  12. says:

    Sweet. Simple truths are timeless. So many young kids will benefit from your taking the time to see what’s going on in their daily lives. Kind of when we were young and listening to The Who. thank you again.

  13. Dan Vie says:

    Hi Pete – just read your book Who I Am. Revelatory about your creative process. Thank you for your integrity.

    I am passing on the name of an amazing thinker about trauma – Gabor Mate – an author, therapist and child of holocaust survivors who has worked with addicts in the downtown eastside of Vancouver for many years and is now gaining much renown as a deeply articulate speaker. If you haven’t heard of him, check it out! This particular TED Talk by Gabor is a good sample as it talks about how the child’s brain is affected by abuse and is very concise about the intertwining nature of addiction and power.

    As a lifelong artist myself, motivated as a child of artists and a survivor of trauma,having grown up surrounded by and giving sanction to creative and unstable people, I am aware of the emotional balancing act for guiding the creative muse. Also, as one dedicated since youth to the art of clowning,and dedicated to the healing arts, I have tried to live by the performer maxim of ‘know your audience’ as your ukulele bit illustrates…


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