The Who: Last Time Around

Page 4 of 4

Very interesting, actually. Especially to Townshend and Daltrey, who have heard nothing about Entwistle's decision to bail out if the band really quits the road.

"He told you that?" says Daltrey the next day in Indianapolis. He's a bit taken aback, but after all these years, obviously nothing that happens within the Who really surprises him anymore. But could the Who bring in another bassist and still call themselves the Who?

"I don't know," says Daltrey carefully. "We'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it. I mean, I'm pretty ruthless about keepin' the Who together, and if John doesn't want to do it, then . . ." He's really thinking this one over now. "You see," he suddenly says, "John never says anything. We have meetings, and John actually says absolutely nothing – never has, never will. If we have a meetin', it'll be Pete and me talkin' and the other two just sittin' there. I mean, you never really get to know what John feels. So, in the end, it's just really what Pete and I want to do . . . . I'm sure if Pete and I wanted to do it and still call it the Who, we could do it successfully."

Strange news travels fast. At the concert that night in Indianapolis, the Who cranked up a rather emphatic version of "Long Live Rock," and as Townshend charged into the guitar solo, thrashing and flailing at his long-suffering Telecaster, he also started leaping across the stage to where Entwistle was standing and pumping out bass. When he reached Entwistle's ear, he shouted – the mouthing was unmistakable from the side of the stage – "Fuck you!" But then he broke into this big, goofy grin, rolled his eyes up in his head like the village spaz and bopped his way back to his amps. Lord knows . . .

Backstage after the show, Townshend slumped on a dressing-room couch and considered Entwistle's dark mutterings. Was he serious?

"I think he's serious," Pete said. "I don't quite know . . . . It's one of the big question marks. You know, John's playin', the fulfillment he gets from the way that he plays, can only be experienced in a road situation – and possibly only with the Who. But I think when the band does stop workin', each member is gonna go through a different set of withdrawals, you know? If John feels that he couldn't even address himself to the prospect of doin' recording, then of course we've got a problem." Townshend cracks a sly grin. "He'll have to find about $1 million to give back to Warner Bros. He'll have to sell one of his 450 basses or something."

But if he leaves, could he be replaced? Would the resulting band still be the Who? After all, Roger thinks that as long as Daltrey and Townshend are up there, it still is the Who.

Pete shakes his head. "That is so mistaken," he says. "I mean, it would be Townshend and Daltrey – or Daltrey and Townshend." Another grin. "But, oh, it would not be the Who."

Well, what's the story with this band, then? This is the last U.S. tour because Pete Townshend is tired of the road – but then, according to the master plan, the group's apparently going to spend most of next year on the road. Will Entwistle leave the band? Will Townshend find a way to keep this show together?

Pete has a definite que será look in his eye. "I think the Who's relationships are more about need than desire," he says. "We don't necessarily want to be dependent on one another, but we are. So it doesn't matter whether you walk away from this relationship . . ." He spreads his palms, all-explaining. "It still remains."

This story is from the November 11th, 1982 issue of Rolling Stone.

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