Pete Townshend, creative force behind the Who and a member of rock royalty, says that his recent surfing of an Internet child pornography site was for research purposes only.
"I'm not a pedophile," declared the guitarist in a recent statement.
The 57-year-old songwriter, whose 1969 opera Tommy referenced elements of sexual abuse, is writing an autobiography of his childhood. His public statement came in response to an item in London's Daily Mail, which reported that Scotland Yard was investigating an internationally recognized rock star on child pornography charges.
No specific identification of Townshend was made.
The guitarist, who is the father of four children, explained the context behind his use of a credit card to pay for access to a child porn site on the Internet. "I believe I was sexually abused between the age of five and six and a half when in the care of my maternal grandmother, who was mentally ill at the time. I cannot remember clearly what happened, but my creative work tends to throw up nasty shadows - particularly in Tommy."
The rock opus, which was made into a 1975 film starring Who vocalist Roger Daltrey, Ann-Margret, Elton John, and Jack Nicholson, contains one explicit track, "Fiddle About," in which the title character is molested by his "wicked" uncle, Ernie.
Townshend said that he is appalled by those who participate in and fuel the child porn industry, including banks that turn a profit from those paying for porn via credit cards. He said that he has contacted the authorities, but hasn't had a full discussion with them to explain the situation.
Associated Press reports that Operation Ore is the British arm of an FBI-led investigation which globally racked 250,000 suspected pedophiles around the world through credit card details used to pay for downloading child pornography. Information on suspects in England was passed on to British police by U.S. investigators.
"To fight against pedophilia, you have to know what's out there.
Some of the things I have seen on the Internet have informed my book, which I hope will be published later this year," Townshend offered.
Three decades ago, the songwriter's Lifehouse Chronicles suite imagined a technical method of global communication that parallels the World Wide Web of today. Townshend's recent statement also addressed its power.
"I predicted many years ago that what was to become the Internet would be used to subvert, pervert, and destroy the lives of decent people."