Friday, February 24, 2012

Glittering Girl: Karen Astley

Here's another rock'n'roll woman and wife of Pete Townshend: Karen Sheila Astley.
She was born on 12th June 1947 in Graprenhall, Cheshire to Edwin (who was a composer and a classical arranger) and Hazel Astley. She has two brothers, John and Gareth, and two sisters, Alison and Virginia, who are twins. 
She studied Dress Design at Ealing Art College in London, where she met Pete Townshend, and then became a fashion designer and illustrator. She and Pete were an item in early 1966 and he eventually moved to her flat in 1967 in Victoria, London. Thereafter they moved to an apartment in Belgravia.

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.
Pete Townshend (from Pure and Easy)

The couple married on 20th May 1968 at Didcot Registry Office, Berkshire, and then moved to a Georgian house.
She designed the clothes for Mike McInnery's wedding. She and Pete attended Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock. Together they had three children: Emma Kate (born 28th March 1969), Aminta Alice (born 24th April 1973) and Joseph (born 1989).
Karen and Pete divorced in 2009, after being separated for fifteen years.

At the Tommy premiere in 1975

Karen in 2008



  1. thank you for sharing this! they are so lovely djghfdlkg hi could just die of tender!

  2. she's so stunningly "Mad Men". I'm glad I'm not 65 but I wish I'd seen that time. I'm so jealous of my mother's clothes in her pix from the 60s!

  3. what a truly lovely couple... at least from my outside vantage point. would give anything to interview them separately, and I'm not even a journalist, I feel an incredible curiosity to know more about 2 of the most important people in each of the other's life. For surely, divorced as they are, they must have wonderful memories they wouldn't mind respectfully and lovingly sharing with the "right" interviewer who would NOT bring up trashy questions, rather would ask most delightful things .. things perhaps no interviewer has ever asked..and, perhaps making them walk away feeling somewhat enlightened about their own lives, as enlightened as the privileged audience hearing about them, and all said with due respect to each other's current partners in life. All the best to all those they both love, and thanks Pete for the art you have shared with the world, and thanks Karen, for being the best support a man and father and husband could have had during all those incredibly unraveling years. A simple observer, Christine Miller, Orlando. FL