Townshend raises funds for Cancer Center at BMC prior to 'Classic Quadrophenia' at Tanglewood

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LENOX — In addition to entertaining a sellout crowd at Tanglewood on Saturday night, rocker Pete Townshend also helped raise money for cancer victims.

Townshend and fellow "Classic Quadrophenia" performers Billy Idol and Alfie Boe, as well as s musical arranger Rachel Fuller, hosted a fundraiser for Townshend's Teen Cancer America Foundation and the Cancer Center at Berkshire Medical Center's Hillcrest campus.

The event was held on the grounds at Highwood Manor on the Tanglewood campus about two hours before the "Classic Quadrophenia" show in The Shed. Townshend, Idol and Boe, along with the Boston Pops and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, performed Townsend's classic 1973 rock opera in its entirety.

The event raised about $25,000, according to state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli.

The Los Angeles-based Teen Cancer America, Townshend said, is designed "to bridge that gap between pediatric and adult cancer treatment. We support hospitals and outpatient facilities with specialized equipment and units for this age group."

Townshend and fellow Who bandmates founded Teen Cancer America several years ago after working with the Teenage Cancer Trust in the United Kingdom.

"We decided to bring the program over here," he told The Eagle.

Closer to home, the money will benefit BMC's Cancer Center, one of the leading treatment facilities in the Northeast.

The event was pulled together by Pignatelli and former Pittsfield resident Allyce Najimy, who is now the executive director of former Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein's Chicago-based Foundation to be Named Later. Najimy's foundation has partnered with Teen Cancer America in the past, she said.

Najimy said Pignatelli pulled together a group of donors from local businesses to create the fundraiser. These included Berkshire Bank, Walmart, Adams Community Bank and the Keator Group of Lenox. The donors got to meet the artists and pose with them for photos.

Najimy lauded Idol, Boe and Fuller for appearing at the event.

"Usually, it's just Pete coming out," she said, "but the others wanted to support the foundation, so they agreed to come out, as well."

Townshend spoke about the foundation, and expressed his fondness for Tanglewood, where The Who performed in July 1970, nearly a year after the legendary Woodstock Music and Arts Fair in Bethel, N.Y.

"I didn't want to play it," he said of Woodstock. "I wanted to get home to my family. But one of the promoters locked me in his apartment till I agreed to do it. I couldn't get out. His apartment was 28 floors up. Finally, through my tears, I agreed to do it. I have much fonder memories of Tanglewood than I have of Woodstock. God, we were four hours late and when we went on, it was early in the morning."

The 20-minute meet and great featured a buffet inside the manor.

Idol was standing next to a reporter before he was called to stand in a photo. He looked around and gave one of his classic sneers.

"Nice place ya got 'ere," he said of the mansion and grounds.

Reach staff writer Derek Gentile at 413-770-6977.


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