‘A possibility of flying apart at any moment’: For Pete Townshend, it’s a wonder the Who is still here

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Even as the Who announced the final dates of their sold-out Quadrophenia and More tour across the UK, Pete Townshend can’t help but marvel that they’re still together at all.

And not just because they’ve lost two members.

Long before the passings of original drummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwistle, the Who already seemed on a path toward disintegration, Townshend tells Spinner.

Famous from their earliest days for acts of wanton destruction, from hapless guitars to brand-new hotel rooms, Townshend now says the band was covering for its own internal dysfunction — something that Moon often would defuse with his legendary sense of humor.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: The terrific ‘Looking Out, Looking In’ finds Simon Townshend making a bold step once again out of the lengthy shadow of his brother Pete — not to mention the Who.]

Of course, Moon is long gone, and Entwistle has been dead for more than a decade, too. Yet the Who (with Townshend and frontman Roger Daltrey carrying the torch) continue — performing their 1973 double-album set Quadrophenia, along with a number of other classic Who songs, on an on-going tour.

The Who will play another round of shows in June, capped off by a benefit show for the Double O charity on July 8, 2013 at Wembley Arena. The program was established by the band in 1976, and has donated millions since then to aid those harmed by drugs, alcohol, domestic violence and sexual abuse. Funds have also gone toward music education and prison reform for the young.

The group’s touring unit also includes Zac Starkey on drums, Pino Palladino on bass and Simon Townshend on additional guitars. Those new faces are not the only things that have changed since the Who’s initial hey day.

“We tended to cover up with crazy behavior,” Pete Townshend tells Spinner, “and just start losing ourselves in a kind of a running comedy act. … There was always a strong possibility of the band flying apart at any moment. I’m surprised that didn’t happen.”

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