Townshend addresses the crowd at the Anaheim Hilton
Don’t ask The Who’s Pete Townshend to demonstrate his signature move. As a seven-year-old girl who attended a performance of Quadrophenia in Ontario learned, the guitarist doesn’t take kindly to signs egging him on, such as the one she held up while on her father’s shoulders at Hamilton Copps Coliseum on Feb. 19, which read, "Smash Your Guitar, Pete!"
According to reports -- and evidenced on YouTube video -- the 67-year-old rockstar berated the child and her father from the stage. "Go away with that sign please, just go away with it,” Townshend said. “Don't bring your children [or] use them. I want to tell you two words but I can't because you've got a child there."
Instead, Townshend mouthed the words "f--- off" in their general direction.
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But once news of the incident spread, thanks in part to concertgoer dad Eric Michael Costello, who, in speaking to the Toronto Sun, revealed that his daughter is a massive Who fan and that her sign came from a pure, not jaded, place, Townshend was inspired to respond with an apology.
The rocker issued a letter to the family with the help of a local Toronto DJ. It read:
"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."
According to a report in The Guardian, Townshend plan to get together with the family in April.