The Who's Pete Townshend: 'I don’t really like performing'

The guitarist, who admits he gets no real buzz from playing live, says he often comes off stage and thinks, ‘We pulled off another scam’

The Who once famously sang that they hoped they’d die before they got old. Now it appears that this might have been to save themselves from the drag of having to repeatedly play live shows night after night.

At least that seems to be the case for the band’s guitarist Pete Townshend, who has admitted he gets no real buzz from playing live performances. In an interview with the Times, he said: “I’m such a boring fucker. It means nothing to me.”

Talking about the Desert Trip festival in California, which the Who recently played alongside the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney, Townshend continued: “I would be a liar if I said, ‘It was really fun, man. It was great!’ It wasn’t great. It was a gig. I did it and I got paid. The fact is, I don’t really like performing. But I’m good at it. I’m lucky to be good at something. I could have worked in an abattoir.”

Just in case anyone was left in any doubt as to Townshend’s feelings about playing live, he added: “I don’t get high on stage. I might come off stage and look in the mirror and go, ‘Hee hee,’ but it’s mischievous. It’s, ‘What a load of crap. We pulled off another scam.’”

The comments are likely to anger some fans of the band, especially those who shelled out upwards of £1,000 on tickets to Desert Trip. However, it’s fair to say Townshend doesn’t let his disinterest manifest itself in a lacklustre set. The band performed for two hours at Desert Trip, playing hits including I Can’t Explain, My Generation and Behind Blue Eyes.

Townshend even told the crowd: “We were 1967’s version of Adele or Lady Gaga or Rihanna or Bieber.” Which suggests that he was at least having a little bit of fun.


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