Pete Townshend: “The Who are not done yet”

Speaking exclusively to MOJO, The Who guitarist Pete Townshend confirms the group have no plans to call it a day.

Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey 2019

by MOJO |
Published on

With a Roger Daltrey solo tour the only Who-related action on the horizon, speculation has been mounting in recent months that following The Who’s performance at The Royal Albert Hall in March, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey might be planning to call time on the group they formed in West London in the 60s. However, speaking in the latest issue of MOJO, on sale now, Townshend is emphatic that the band’s days are not numbered.

“The Who are not done yet,” he tells MOJO’s Mark Blake. “[my relationship with Roger] is better than it’s even been. I wish it were more intimate, but that’s not possible because we are so different. But we value and respect each other more.”

“The Who are a brand and a friendship, but it’s not a band,” he continues of the pair’s working relationship. “It’s not a hard-working, complicated, growing and evolving fucking jazz group. We’re not challenging each other to work musical miracles, but we’re playing music we know so well. So never say never.”

“I don’t want to do what I did before and say we’re never going to work again.”

Townshend is referring to the time when, following the death of drummer Keith Moon in 1978, The Who played 1982’s supposed ‘farewell’ tour and Townshend threw himself into a solo career outside of the group, writing a collection of short stories, working on his answer to Prince’s Purple Rain film and battling his own demons following addiction to alcohol and painkillers.

“It was a journey into darkness,” Townshend says, looking back on the period. “If that doesn’t sound too dramatic. You know, I’m still learning how to be in a band.”

Townshend’s solo LPs 1982’s All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes and 1985’s White City are reissued this month and he tells MOJO about how he used to decide which songs would be right for his solo LPs and which would work for The Who based on whether Daltrey could sing them.

“It’s well-know that Roger and I are very different on a number of levels. But one substantial level – and it’s not Brexit – is the spiritual function of music,” says Townshend. “I shouldn’t try and speak for him, but I think Roger would agree that music has a social function, a societal function and even a political function. But there are songs on All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes that have very spiritual roots.”

What The Who needed at the time was a fucking psychotherapist.

Pete Townshend

Elsewhere in the interview, Townshend recalls the difficulties of coming in to record The Who’s 1982 album It’s Hard straight from rehab.

“I turned up and they were in [producer] Glyn Johns’ studio in Surrey making a record and [ex-Amen Corner vocalist] Andy Fairweather Low was in my chair. I love Andy, so I didn’t mind, but God knows what they were recording,” he recalls.

“I don’t know what I’d given them. But I won’t accept what [Moon’s replacement] Kenney Jones said: ‘You’ve taken the best songs for your solo album and left us with this dross.’ That was insulting. But I probably needed time to come up with a few more tailor-made songs for the record.”

The Who’s tenth album was their second with Jones and would prove to be the last they recorded with bassist John Entwistle, who died in 2002. It received mixed reviews at the time and The Who wouldn’t follow it up until 2006’s Endless Wire. Daltrey has since stated that the band shouldn’t even have released it.

“Roger came in and said, ‘I’m not agreeing to this album going out. It’s just not good enough,’” confirms Townshend. “But we were contracted and we’d taken most of the fucking money. So we had to put it out. It should have been more diverse, or maybe it was too diverse. I don’t know. I’ve listened to it recently and it’s not half bad. Really, what The Who needed at the time was a fucking psychotherapist.”

“I know people will now be going, ‘You fucking pretentious, pompous idiot!’ OK, but that’s me…” Read the full interview with Pete Townshend only in the latest issue of MOJO, on sale now. More information and to order a copy HERE!

Picture: Getty/Dave J Hogan

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us