The Who guitarist Pete Townshend responded to reports on his comments about late bandmates Keith Moon and John Entwistle after he said “Thank God they’re gone,” and added that they were “fucking difficult to play with.”

In the original Rolling Stone interview, Townshend said "gone," though some outlets interpreted his comment as saying he was glad they were dead. He also noted, before giving the quote, that Who fans probably wouldn’t like what he had to say.

“Pete! For fuck’s sake put a lid on it!” he wrote on Facebook in response to the controversial comment. “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.”

He described the versions of the band following the deaths of Moon and Entwistle as separate incarnations and said he was grateful to have those opportunities to keep going.

“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,” he explained. “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.”

Townshend said he understood that some Who fans would be “hurt” by the way his comment “comes across as a headline,” but added that he hoped they knew him well enough to understand that “the upside is missing in the headlines.”

“The upside with Keith and John was that on tour and in the studio, we had so much fun," he noted. "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 benefited from a quieter life sometimes. It was a riot.”

He apologized to members of Moon and Entwistle's families for “carelessly providing” the material for such a headline. “I forgive myself. I hope they can forgive me too,” he said. “I loved their dads and still do.”

“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," Townshend said. "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.”

 

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