Townshend Clarifies ‘Thank God Moon and Entwistle Are Dead’ Comment

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Pete Townshend took to social media today (Nov. 27) to address the storm that followed the publication of his recent interview with Rolling Stone. The article, written by Stephen Rodrick and headlined “The Who By Fire,” was published on Nov. 25 and addressed his current relationship with Roger Daltrey, as well as his thoughts on his two late bandmates.

Townshend recently completed a series of interviews to promote The Who’s upcoming studio album, WHO, and his just-published first novel, The Age of Anxiety. The Rolling Stone interview was part of that publicity blitz.

“It’s not going to make Who fans very happy, but thank God they’re gone,” he was quoted as saying about The Who’s late drummer and bass guitarist.

Headline writers had a field day. Within hours, the article was picked up by scores of publications with headlines like “Thank God Late Bandmates Are Gone.”

In a lengthy post on his Facebook page on Wednesday, Townshend clarified his quotes in that interview. His entire response is here, unedited:

My interview with Rolling Stone. Headline: ‘Pete Townshend says “thanks God” Moon, John Entwistle are dead; they were fucking difficult to play with”’.

This was said as part of an interview in response to a series of questions about Who history, the early days and how it is today.

PETE! FOR FUCK’S SAKE PUT A LID ON IT!

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.

Watch The Who perform “Baba O’Riley” in 1975

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?

Listen to “I Don’t Wanna Get Wise” from WHO

Related: More about the new Who album and 2020 tour

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2 Comments so far

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  1. steve b
    #1 steve b 30 November, 2019, 20:01

    grouchy old senile fuddy duddy.keep your mouth shut.what a dick

    Reply this comment
    • Carl
      Carl 2 December, 2019, 10:12

      Go read the article. I read it and understood what he was talking about in terms of playing, even if he wasn’t very gracious. Pete is one of the greats.

      Reply this comment

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