The Reason Why Pete Townshend Almost Left The Who
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The Who was formed in 1964 by founding members singer Roger Daltrey, guitarist Pete Townshend, bassist and John Entwistle, and drummer Keith Moon. But in the late ’70s, Townshend almost left the band and if that push through, then we wouldn’t probably be listening to some of the songs that made the band who they are now.
Just recently, on the episode of Audible’s Music + Words, Townshend recalled the events between Moon’s death in 1978 and the death of Entwistle in 2002, when the band retired, reunions happened, and surviving members continue with their solo projects. The guitarist revealed that he was already decided to exit the band for good after the Moon’s passing, but changed his mind because of the drummer as well.
Townshend explained that the first time he planned to leave the band was after he witnessed Moon’s performance during the making of the Who Are You album in 1978. He said, at that time, Moon’s drug addiction issues had started to affect the band as he recalled an incident when they were recording the song “Music Must Change,” and how Moon was unable to play a simple melody.
Townshend said (as transcribed by Guitar.com):
“He played the most fantastic drums [for Who Are You], which was only recorded about six months before.
“I went back and realized that Keith was just not going to cut it really, at all, ever again. We sort of lost him. I decided to quit.”
However, Moon died after a few weeks of the album’s released and his death changed Townshend decision. He felt the need to continue with the band and honor the late drummer. Townshend said about making the change:
“[Moon] wasn’t a conventional drummer. He was an embellisher, a decorator, almost like an orchestral drummer, but he certainly wasn’t a Kenney Jones who laid down a really good beat.”
Eventually, Kenney Jones replaced Moon and they release two more albums 1981’s Face Dances and 1982’s It’s Hard, before they announced a farewell tour in 1982. After that, Townshend pursued a solo career, but later reunited with the Who. Today, Townshend and Daltrey remain the original members in the modern lineup and they are currently on the road as part of their The Who Hits Back tour.