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Full Name at Birth
Karen Sheila Astley
Date of Birth
Claim to Fame
Former wife of Pete Townshend
Other Family Members
Born 12th June 1947 in Graprenhall, Cheshire to Edwin and Hazel Astley. Her father was a composer. She had two brothers, Jon and Philip, and sisters Alison and v*rginia who were twins.
Studied Dress Design at Ealing Art College, London.
Pete Townshend: - I remember the first time I saw her back. It was in 1963. She sat in the booth beside me in Sid`s Cafe by Ealing Art School. I thought she was a much younger girl because she hunched her shoulders up and, from behind, seemed so small. When she stood up and walked out, I realised she was actually very tall and graceful, her face stunningly beautiful.
Met properly at the UFO Club, a Psychedelic venue in London previously called The Night Tripper.
Pete Townshend: - I used to frequent the UFO club, which is where I met Mike McInnerney and Karen and all that lot, everybody.
Craig Sams: - UFO was every other weekend, so on a lot of the alternate weekends [painter] Michael [English], his girlfriend Anglea and Pete Townshend and Karen, his girlfriend, and me would ge together at Karen`s place in Eccleston Square and trip the night away. We had our own little UFO. That gave us something to do on the alternate Fridays. Once we were all walking down the street just past the Victoria Coach Station, it was really freezing cold but Townshend had stripped down to his shirt - "Cold is just a state of mind, man" - and we were all barrelling along, just full of our own incredible strength, and some car pulls up. The classic scene: a head comes out and somebody says, "Hi, Pete Townshend. I think your last album was f`ing great!" and then the guy drunkenly heaves all down the side of the car. Suddenly you realise the huge distance between where we were going, into spiritual realms, and 15 pints of lager, which was where a lot of the mods had gone. But we`d all come from the same roots - soul, dancing and mild pharmaceuticals.
Attended the final day of the Monteray Pop Festival in California with Pete on 18 June 1967.
Pete Townshend: - Monteray did change the way we thought because we didn`t like the atmosphere there. All the same, my wife and I, who was then my girlfriend, we did meet a lot of people at Monteray who are still our friends today.
Designed the clothes for Mike McInnery`s wedding in Hyde Park. McInnery was a regular at the UFO club and was the art editor for International Times.
While touring with The Who in April 1968, Keith Moon kept getting the whole entourage thrown out of hotels for destroying things with cherry bombs - notably the doors at the Gorham and the Waldorf Astoria - so Pete and Karen ended up staying at Tom Wright`s apartment while the rest of the band slept on the tour bus.
Married aged twenty on 20th May 1968 at Didcot Registry Office, Berkshire. The wedding reception was held at her parent`s home but there was no honeymoon planned because Pete was busy working in the studio with The Who. They moved into a three-storey Georgian townhouse overlooking the river Thames.
Daughter Emma Kate born at Queen Charlotte`s Hopsital, 28th March 1969.
Attends Woodstock with her husband and daughter in August of 1969.
Daughter Aminta Alice born 24th April 1971 at Queen Charlotte`s Maternity Hospital, Hammersmith.
Karen holds her family together in the early `80s while her husband copes with the demise of his band.
Emma Townshend: - I`d seen my dad come back after a six-month tour away with something close to paralizing shock. He sat down while his bags were still being brought in and just totally started to shake with sobs - and I`d watched mum keep things together in those long absences while she did a full-time degree. I`d even been banned from ever opening my own front door - the number of weird people I`ve met is on the high side.
Son Joseph born 1989.
List of links to Karen Astley fansites:
Karen Astley Links »