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Pete Townshend © Matt Crossick/Empics Entertainment

Pete Townshend has released a lengthy statement in response to controversial comments he made about his deceased Who band mates Keith Moon and John Entwistle.

The Who guitarist hit headlines around the globe this week when he said of Keith Moon and John Entwistle in an interview with Rolling Stone: “It’s not going to make Who fans very happy, but thank God they’re gone.”

Asked why, Townshend explained: “Because they were f***ing difficult to play with. They never, ever managed to create bands for themselves. I think my musical discipline, my musical efficiency as a rhythm player, held the band together.”

Townshend went on to critique both Keith Moon and John Entwistle’s playing style in the interview and said of Moon “With Keith, my job was keeping time, because he didn’t do that. So, when he passed away, it was like, ‘Oh, I don’t have to keep time anymore.’”

Under the title, ‘PETE! FOR F***’S SAKE PUT A LID ON IT!’, Townshend has posted a 600-word statement on Facebook this afternoon (Wednesday 27th November) clarifying his views on Moon and Entwistle. 

Townshend also apologied to the late drummer and bassist’s families “for the headlines” and “for carelessly providing the words that were used”, and explained: “In the past three months I have done so many interviews I am losing focus and patience."

He added: “I forgive myself. I hope they can forgive me too. I loved their dads and still do.” 

Pete Townshend’s statement reads:

“No one can ever know how much I miss Keith and John, as people, as friends and as musicians. The alchemy we used to share in the studio is missing from the new album, and it always feels wrong to try to summon it up without them, but I suppose we will always be tempted to try. To this day I am angry at Keith and John for dying. Sometimes it shows. It’s selfish, but it’s how I feel.

“But I am sincerely grateful to have had these second and third incarnations as a member of what we still dare to call The Who – once after Keith passed, then again after John passed. I do thank God for this, but I was being ironic in my own English way by suggesting it is something I am glad about. I can be grateful to be free as a player and writer, but sad about losing old friends. It does feel ironic, and it also makes me angry. Towards the end of my mother Betty’s life she drove me barmy, and there was a huge sense of relief when she finally passed, but I miss her very much. Love has so many facets.

“I understand that a lot of long-time Who fans will be hurt by the way it comes across as a headline. I only hope that they know me well enough that I tell the truth as much as I can, but I also tell both sides and the upside is missing in the headlines.

“Writing for Roger, and performing with him, is easier than the early days with the old four-piece band. Many of you will have heard me say that working with Roger these days can be tricky, and challenging, but that ultimately I find it “easy”. John and Keith were so eccentric and individual as musicians. They literally did take up so much musical and sonic space. As a guitar player I never learned to shred because there was never any space for it. On Live At Leeds and bootlegs from that time you can often hear me stop the music to noodle around, partly so I could think!

“The upside with Keith and John was that on tour and in the studio we had so much fun. Playing with them was hard, but both Roger and I spent a lot of time doubled up in joy and laughter even though we could have benefitted from a quieter life sometimes. It was a riot.

“To those family members of Keith and John, especially Chris Entwistle and Mandy Moon, I apologise for the headlines – and for carelessly providing the words that were used – but in the past three months I have done so many interviews I am losing focus and patience. I forgive myself. I hope they can forgive me too. I loved their dads and still do.

“Roger lost his rag at a press conference at Wembley about Brexit. I found it worrying, but I understood. We may be rock stars but we are also human. Roger and I have not changed very much over the years, but we do love and like each other these days. It’s really poignantly painful to imagine how things would have turned out had John and Keith had also been allowed to become older, kinder and wiser. The Who might have grown musically, or possibly just gone around in circles, but I assure you we would have deepened our love for each other as human beings and colleagues.

“As musicians? Who knows?” 

My interview with Rolling Stone. Headline: 'Pete Townshend says “thanks God” Moon, John Entwistle are dead; they were...

Posted by Pete Townshend on Wednesday, November 27, 2019