The Who's Pete Townshend on Keith Moon and John Entwistle: "Thank God They're Gone"

The Who pose for a group portrait during the press launch party for the 'Who's Next' album release. L-R Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, Keith Moon and John Entwistle, on 15th July 1971 in Surrey, United Kingdom. (Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns)
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(Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns)

There's an old saying that one should never speak ill of the dead. Pete Townshend is not one for old sayings. The Who guitarist and songwriter did not mince words when the subject of the band's original rhythm section of Keith Moon and John Entwistle came up during an interview with Rolling Stone.

“It’s not going to make Who fans very happy, but thank God they’re gone," Townshend said regarding the drummer (Moon) and bass player (Entwistle). Moon died in 1978 from an accidental drug overdose. Entwistle passed away in 2002 from a drug-induced heart attack. 

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"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 added.  “John’s bass sound was like a Messiaen organ. Every note, every harmonic in the sky. When he passed away and I did the first few shows without him, with Pino [Palladino] on bass, he was playing without all that stuff…. I said, ‘Wow, I have a job.’ ”

Townshend is just as harsh on 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.’”

When asked about the current state of The Who, Townshend doesn't let up: “We’re not a band anymore. There’s a lot of people who don’t like it when I say it, but we’re just not a f---ing band. Even when we were, I used to sit there thinking, ‘This is a fucking waste of time. Take 26 because Keith Moon has had one glass of brandy too many.’”

The guitarist's shocking quotes arrive while the Who is promoting a new album, Who, which singer Roger Daltrey calls the band's best album since Quadrophenia. Listen to the lead single, "Ball and Chain," below.

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