The Who’s Pete Townshend Is Too Traumatized To Perform ‘Tommy’ Again Due To Child Sexual Abuse

Pete Townshend of The Who plays the guitar at a recent concert.
Ethan Miller / Getty Images

The Who guitarist Pete Townshend says he won’t perform songs from the rock opera Tommy ever again because it’s too traumatic and stirs up memories of child sexual abuse.

The Daily Mail says that Townshend revealed that the songs “Fiddle About” and “Cousin Kevin” from the 1969 album trigger him, and are too difficult for him to play.

Townshend explained that he last played the songs from Tommy at an event to aid the Teenage Cancer Trust in 2017, and he “practically has a nervous breakdown.” In the song, “Cousin Kevin,” protagonist Tommy is abused by his evil cousin. He is then molested by his Uncle Ernie in “Fiddle About.”

The guitarist recalled that he had to leave the building in the midst of those songs, explaining that seated in the audience was a person who had told Townshend about his own abduction and abuse by a pedophile.

“At the Albert Hall he was right there, sitting next to the stage. After that I said to our manager, Bill Curbishley, ‘I’m not doing Tommy again. If I can write songs and record them this summer, then we can talk about touring.'”

Townshend has spoken out about his own sexual abuse as a child starting at the age of 5 by his maternal grandmother who he lived with.

In his autobiography, Who I Am, Townshend revealed he was also sexually abused by someone else during initiation into the Sea Scouts when he was 10. In 2003, he was investigated for accessing a child pornography website but was cleared of possessing any images after he was found to be acting out of a need to rescue the children involved.

WBUR reveals that despite the setback and trauma, Townshend and The Who lead singer Roger Daltrey are back on tour with the rest of the band, playing big venues like Fenway Park in Boston. As promised, the guitarist has written new songs based on his youthful struggles.

Though Daltrey and Townshend have traveled rough roads together, the lead singer made an announcement about working together again.

“Our glamour is gone, our youth is gone, but the music still sounds f**king brilliant.”

The Who isn’t the only band from the ’60s back in the news this week, as reported earlier today by The Inquisitr. On September 14, the original Strawberry Field in Liverpool, England, will reopen, attracting Beatles fans from all over the world.

John Lennon’s sister Julia Baird has been involved in the fundraising for the restoration of the site and will be on hand for the opening on Saturday.