Straight Talk
JOE WARMINGTON - Rock star Townshend apologizes to pint-sized fan

Eric Michael Costello, 50, is still struggling to explain to his seven-year-old daughter Janey why The Who's Pete Townshend told them to "F--- off" at a Hamilton concert on Feb. 19, 2013.

Credits: Eric Michael Costello

JOE WARMINGTON | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO -- Turns out Pete Townshend can explain it after all.

And apologize too.

Who says an old-time rocker can't have a softer side?

Last week QMI Agency ran a story about how the legendary guitar player and songwriter with The Who mouthed "f--- off" to a dad with a seven-year-old daughter on his shoulders at the Quadrophenia performance at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ont.

Eric Costello and his daughter Janey had moved toward the stage with a sign that read "Smash your guitar, Pete."

The guitarist and songwriter seemed irritated and a YouTube video shows him mouthing the epithet.

But worried about the feelings of a kid, the 67-year-old music legend showed he's actually all right.

"Apologies and condolences from my side, and very best wishes to you and your family," Townshend wrote in a personal letter to Costello Thursday, asking if they could "meet and be friends and put this behind us."

Feeling bad about it, Townshend reached out to a pal in Hamilton for assistance.

"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," wrote Pete. "I was not angry on stage either. I was in rock star mode, the big mouth."

Tyler, who does the 2-7 p.m. show on the classic rock station Giant FM 91.7 in Hamilton, contacted me Wednesday to help put everybody together.

Townshend and Tyler have become friends since they met by chance outside a restaurant in Antigua.

"I was surprised at the whole thing because it's really nothing like Pete," Tyler said of what happened at the Hamilton concert. "He is a very friendly person. He invited my family to the Hamilton show and genuinely felt bad about what transpired and wanted to make it right."

From the point of view of me and reporter Jenny Yuen, it was just a fun rock 'n' roll story. We put across a dad's disappointment and Pete's famous moods but also indicated how he has a kind, human side and is capable of making amends.

We didn't see the poor dad being attacked in cyberspace. As a fan of Townshend and The Who since I was a kid, I was pretty sure Pete would not let this go without repair.

However, many Who fans were upset that the rock icon was called out publicly for what most felt was not a big deal.

But Townshend himself said he wishes he could have that moment back.

"I could have handled it differently," Pete wrote in his apology. "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."

Townshend told Tyler what should have been a fun thing ended up going off the rails.

Costello has told us it has caused angst in his life -- particularly from rude comments from fellow fans.

Townshend felt terrible two of his biggest fans went through this.

"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," wrote Townshend. "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."

Townshend has made arrangements for the dad and daughter, who can sing every line from Tommy, to meet privately in April and have a laugh about it.

The writer of such monster hits as Who Are You, Won't Get Fooled Again, Baba O'Reilly and Love, Reign o'er Me didn't promise to smash a guitar.

He did, however, promise: "I will not swear."

A family can go back to enjoying their idol's music again and it looks like Pete Townshend has written another classic.

Sun News Videos

Mink farming

Nova Scotia produces half of Canada's mink fur.


Feminist 'consent underwear' spark debate

Do consent underwear just change the conversation from 'rape culture' to 'slut culture'?


Afghanistan's upcoming election

With an election rapidly approaching, change is on its way to Afghanistan. Good or bad, the world is watching.

Ezra Levant’s The Source is the most provocative and thought-changing multimedia show in Canada.

This show is 100% focused on the political battles taking place across Canada, in the United States...even around the world.

Michael Coren brings you strong, balanced opinions to challenge conventional thinking.

Byline brings you the stories you won’t hear anywhere else while exploring points of view that are all too often ignored.