Townshend was born on 19 May 1945, at Chiswick Hospital, Middlesex (now west London). He came from a musical family: his father, Cliff Townshend, was a professional alto saxophonist in the Royal Air Force's dance band The Squadronaires and his mother, Betty (née Dennis), was a singer with the Sydney Torch and Les Douglass Orchestras. The Townshends had a volatile marriage, as both drank heavily and possessed fiery tempers. Cliff Townshend was often away from his family touring with his band while Betty carried on affairs with other men. The two split when Townshend was a toddler and he was sent to live with his maternal grandmother Emma Dennis, whom Pete later described as "clinically insane". The two-year separation ended when Cliff and Betty purchased a house together on Woodgrange Avenue in middle-class Acton, and the young Pete was happily reunited with his parents.