For Pete's sake! Townshend tears strips off Doherty

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The Independent Culture

He may have raised more than his fair share of hell during four decades in the music business but Pete Townshend doesn't think much of today's counter-culture heroes.

Asked for his opinion on drug-addled singer Pete Doherty yesterday, The Who's guitarist was characteristically uncompromising, describing the Babyshambles front man as "the ultimate rock'n'roll fuckwit".

Townshend, 60, made his comments as he launched Hyde Park Calling, a new festival sponsored by the Hard Rock Café, which The Who will headline.

Across town at Thames Magistrates' Court meanwhile, Doherty was making one of his now regular appearances before the beak. The court heard that the singer was making "positive progress" in his battle against drug addiction. But the mood of optimism among his fans gathered outside was dampened somewhat by the announcement that the 26-year-old would have to return to the same court today charged with seven fresh counts of drugs possession.

"Peter Doherty is the ultimate rock'n'roll nihilist, the ultimate rock'n'roll fuckwit," said Townshend. As one of only two survivors from the original Who line up, Townshend, who battled drink and drugs demons of his own before cleaning up his act a couple of decades ago and pouring a fortune into helping rehabilitate other addicts, is no stranger to the perils of the rock' n'roll lifestyle.

"It is important we acknowledge that this business loves to kill people," he said. "But I don't worry about him [Doherty]. Maybe it's not as bad as it looks. I don't know Pete but I know Kate quite well and I think they know how to get help when they need it," he said.

Townshend's most recent brush with the law came in 2003 when he was cautioned after using his credit card to look at an internet child porn website. He claimed he was carrying out research into childhood abuse - a theme that has pervaded much of his work, most famously the character of Uncle Ernie in the rock opera Tommy.

He was joined yesterday by Who front man Roger Daltrey, 62, to announce the line up for the London festival on July 1-2. The Who will headline on Sunday while Roger Waters of Pink Floyd will star on the Saturday when he will perform The Dark Side of the Moon album in its entirety. Texas and Razorlight will also be on the bill.

Daltrey said: "There is a large audience of young people who have never seen The Who live. This will give them the chance. It will also give me the chance to play with the band I love, maybe for the last time. No one plays the music we created better than we do. I'm going to enjoy it."

Townshend and Daltrey are working on the band's first studio album since 1982 and plan to use Hyde Park Calling as the first date in a world wide tour to promote it.

Track records

PETER TOWNSHEND

* Born: 19 May, 1945

* Education: Acton County Grammar School, followed by Ealing Art College

* Career highs: Leading one of the biggest bands in the world for 20 years, recording 10 studio albums, writing rock opera "Tommy".

* Career low: Losing two band mates. Being cautioned on child pornography charges.

* Least likely to say: "Hope I die before I get old".

* Most likely to say: The kids aren't alright.

PETER DOHERTY

* Born: 12 March 1979

* Education: Nicholas Chamberlaine Comprehensive; University College London (dropped out first year)

* Career high: Reaching number 1 in the UK album charts with first band, The Libertines.

* Career low: Toe-curling performance with Elton John before global audience at Live8

* Least likely to say: "How about a quiet night in?"

* Most likely to say: "Not guilty, your honour."

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