After a lifetime of saying, and doing, some pretty stupid things it’s quite refreshing to find Pete Townsend still able to make new idiotic statements.
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine he recently said he was relieved that former bandmates Keith Moon and John Entwistle were dead
They were fucking difficult to play with,” Townshend said. “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.”
Outrage naturally followed and Townsend was forced to ‘take to social media’ to attempt to dig himself out of the hole he had created.
Townsend just can’t help having ideas and theories and then telling the world about them, it doesn’t matter how stupid these are, Pete’s going to tell the world anyway.
Firstly he’s clearly insensitive towards the families of his old band mates. Secondly it ignores their huge contribution towards the sound of The Who and Townsend’s own personal reputation. Without that rhythm section The Who could have been Herman’s Hermits or any number of 60’s beat groups. The fact that they weren’t and managed to make the transition to 70’s rock gods had an awful lot to do with Entwistle and Moon.
Without them it’s highly unlikely Townsend would still be filing out arenas across the world. Also,ironically 99% of that audience are coming to listen to music produced before the death of Moon.
So, it was a stupid thing to say.
But, on the other hand I admire Townsend’s honesty. By the mid 70’s Moon and Entwistle had reached the playing styles they were probably going to keep for the rest of their lives. It wouldn’t matter what Townsend wrote, whatever the style, the rhythm section would inevitably be the same. Both were great players but like lots of great players they did one thing very well.
Anyone who’s ever played in a band knows it can be hell. The singer who’s always late, the guitarist who won’t turn down, the drummer who won’t shut up..over the years minor irritations become intolerable. And that’s before money and drugs take over.
Townsend was pretty much at his wits end with Moon by the mid 70’s. To have to replace him with someone more versatile was a huge relief at first.Entwistle was as deaf as a post and overplayed at top volume, imagine the release in replacing him with a professional like Pino Palladino.
Fronting a band of professionals must have been liberating as hell for Townsend, and if it didn’t work out he could just sack them. The only downside it we are left with the modern Who showband ideally suited for today’s concert experience. As part of the nostalgia vibe it includes video clips of the departed so we can remember why the band were once great.
That’s the trouble with musicians,they are human beings,often, as in the case of Moon and Entwistle, complex and difficult people. Sometimes, as The Who in general and Townsend in particular, have taught us, working with them is a massive pain in the arse.