Pete Townshend says Cream “sounded so empty” at times: “I always loved Eric’s playing but not always his sound”

“It always felt to me like it was a bit muffled, in the Marshall days.”

Pete Townshend onstage

Photo: Martin Philbey / Redferns

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Pete Townshend has admitted that, while he has always enjoyed Eric Clapton’s guitar playing, he wasn’t always a fan of his sound.

The 75-year-old Who songwriter and guitarist offers his thoughts in the June 2021 issue of Guitar Magazine, which is available to order now. When the conversation turned to Clapton’s legendary power trio Cream, Townshend admitted, “It felt to me that sometimes it sounded so empty.”

“I thought [Cream] would’ve been so much better if they had a Hammond player,” he said. “I always loved Eric’s playing but not always his sound. It always felt to me like it was a bit muffled, in the Marshall days. That’s why I prefer Traffic and Blind Faith. I like the sound of that.”

Townshend’s comments were prompted by a discussion regarding the six-string approach he took with The Who.

“I think that, partly because of [Keith Moon’s] drumming style, I had to play a really, really solid, tightly syncopated but nonetheless tightly metronomic style of guitar playing,” he told us. “I was driving him rather than him driving me.”

“There was no space, really, for fancy leads. As soon as I started playing single notes, everything seemed to fall apart.”

Elsewhere in the conversation, Townshend discusses the new Super Deluxe boxset edition of 1967’s The Who Sell Out, and how he’s been spending his time during lockdown.

The Super Deluxe edition of The Who Sell Out collects 112 tracks, including mono and stereo mixes of the album, plus 47 previously unheard tracks. It also includes an 80-page hardback book with posters, inserts and other collectibles.


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