Townshend confirms the band will hit the road.

With speculation rampant that the Who will return to the stage in 2006, the band's driving creative force took to his Web site to address the rumors. Under a Christmas Eve online diary post titled "I will go on tour...," Pete Townshend confirms the band will hit the road come summer in support of new material.

Although no dates are yet confirmed, Townshend's note reveals that the tour will launch following "a very, very cool" surprise announcement in June and that all of the shows may be viewable online.

"I have high hopes for the whole tour to be shared to a wide audience at home in a mixture of pay-per-view and free special Web casts," he writes. "Some of the proceeds will go to charity, of course."

Townshend had originally hoped to release the first Who studio album since 1982's "It's Hard" this year, but in March relayed news that it had fallen behind schedule due to the studio process and other projects. No new album and drummer Zak Starkey's commitment to touring with Oasis scotched thoughts of a tour in 2005.

"I have said many times... that I am reticent about committing to a tour without a completed new Who album under my belt," Townshend says. "As things stand I am still pushing to produce some more songs. So the announcement [of a 2006 tour] may seem premature. It is not."

While a traditional album is not expected, Townshend says new music will emerge, although it is unknown if it will be in a physical or digital format. "No, it is not an 'EP,'" he says. "It is a truly inspired idea."

"Who manager Bill Curbishley has come up with a great scheme," he says. "What his brilliant idea means is that if I don't have a full 30 tracks ready to go, we can settle on what I do have. So I can commit."

With his London office closed for the holiday season, Curbishley was unreachable by deadline for comment about the release of the new music or tour plans.

Townshend denies rumors that his girlfriend and sometime collaborator, Rachel Fuller, will open shows, instead suggesting that his brother Simon Townshend's band, Casbah Club, would be a better fit. "Who fans would love them."

Of his own new music, Townshend says, "I certainly don't give a flying f*** whether anything I write is a hit, or will get played on my beloved rock radio, or sell a million."

"What I care about is that Roger Daltrey feels comfortable with the songs I write so he can sing a few of them on stage -- while I lunge around looking gorgeous and playing show-off guitar like a kid in a music shop," he says. "After 45 years of this crap I've just started to enjoy it."