During a chat with Rolling Stone on Monday, the 74-year-old guitarist claimed he was happy he no longer had to deal with his former bandmates, whom he called “f–king difficult.”
“Thank God they’re gone,” Townshend told the interviewer after being asked if he ever gets nostalgic looking at old pictures of Moon and Entwistle.
On Wednesday, in a lengthy statement on Facebook, Tonswhend apologized for his comments.
“I understand that a lot of longtime Who fans will be hurt by the way it comes across as a headline. 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,” he wrote.
He continued, “I was being ironic in my own English way by suggesting it is something I am glad about.”
Townsend also talked about missing his bandmates.
“No one can ever know how much I miss Keith and John, as people, as friends and as musicians,” he said. “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.”
He went on to apologize directly to family members of Moon and Entwistle.
“To those family members of Keith and John, especially Chris Entwistle and Mandy Moon, I apologize for the headlines and for carelessly providing the words that were used… I loved their dads and still do,” he wrote.
Though he acknowledged that his comments would “not make Who fans very happy,” Townshend proceeded to criticize the deceased musicians.
“They never, ever managed to create bands for themselves. I think my musical discipline [and] my musical efficiency as a rhythm player held the band together,” he said.
“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.'”
On The Who, Townshend continued: “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–king band. Even when we were, I used to sit there thinking, ‘This is a f–king waste of time.”
Townshend later blamed that feeling on Moon’s addiction.
“Take 26, because Keith Moon has had one glass of brandy too many,” he said in the interview.
On Entwistle, however, Townshend admitted that he contributed a massive sound to The Who.
“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… and I said, ‘Wow, I have a job.’'”
Along with Townshend and longtime frontman Roger Daltrey, Entwistle co-founded The Who in London, England in 1964.
Later that year, the trio enlisted Moon as their drummer. The much-loved four-piece completed what is best known as The Who’s classic lineup.
Moon passed away on Sept. 7, 1978 at the age of 32. Previously, the drummer was prescribed Heminevrin, a U.K. brand of clomethiazole, to help alleviate alcohol-withdrawal symptoms.
He was found dead by his girlfriend Annette Walter-Lax the next day in their shared apartment. The death was ruled an overdose after Moon took 32 of the clomethiazole pills.
Entwistle, on the other hand, died much later, on June 27, 2002 — only a day before The Who was set to embark on a U.S. tour.
The bassist was discovered unresponsive that morning. His death was determined the result of a heart attack induced by a cocaine overdose.
Over the course of five and a half decades, Townshend and Daltrey, 75, have continued performing together as The Who, whether it’s for one of many “farewell” tours or a “comeback” trek.
The pair, along with a massive orchestra and their multitalented backing band, has spent the majority of 2019 on the critically acclaimed Moving On! tour, which hit dozens of cities across the U.S. and Canada.
During the extensive Rolling Stone interview, Townshend revealed that he now likes Daltrey.
“I like all his eccentricities, his foibles, his self-obsession and his singer thing. Everything about him,” he said.
“I used to say that I love him, but with my fingers crossed.”
Daltrey reflected this sentiment, saying: “I hope he realizes I care about him. I think my actions through our career have shown that.
“I’ve always kind of known Pete cares for me.”
The Who will hit the road next year for a short U.K. tour, with a handful of U.S. dates set to take place later in the spring.
Tour dates, updates and additional information can be found through The Who’s official website.
Who, the group’s long-awaited 12th studio album — and its first in 13 years — is set to be released on Dec. 6.
The Who’s latest single, I Don’t Wanna Get Wise, dropped on Tuesday. It is now available through all major streaming platforms.