Pete Townshend has taken to Facebook to quell a firestorm of criticism that erupted when he told Rolling Stone writer Stephen Rodrick that he “thanks God” that Keith Moon and John Entwistle are no longer around.
“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.”
Understandably, the comments generated headlines all across the globe and stunned many people. “I understand that a lot of long-time Who fans will be hurt by the way it comes across as a headline,” Townshend wrote on Facebook. “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.”
While not artful, he says that the comments merely reflected the frustrations he felt while attempting to perform music with such gifted, idiosyncratic musicians. “No one can ever know how much I miss Keith and John, as people, as friends and as musicians,” he wrote. “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.”
He went on to explain that his comments weren’t meant to be taken literally. “I was being ironic in my own English way by suggesting it is something I am glad about,” he wrote. “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.”
Near the end of the lengthy statement, he apologized to the families of his departed bandmates. “To those family members of Keith and John, especially Chris Entwistle and Mandy Moon, I apologise for the headlines,” he wrote, “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.”