Pete Townshend says Keith Moon and John Entwistle were ''f***ing difficult to play with''.

The Who guitarist has taken aim at the legendary rock band's late rhythm section - drummer Keith died in 1978 while John passed away in 2002 - and suggested he's happier performing without them because he doesn't have to hold them ''together''.

Speaking to Rolling Stone magazine, he said: ''It's not going to make Who fans very happy, but thank God they're gone. Because they were f***ing difficult to play with.

''They never, ever managed to create bands for themselves. I think my musical discipline, my musical efficiency as a rhythm player, held the band together.''

The 74-year-old star - who still works with frontman Roger Daltrey - didn't hold back as he criticised his late bandmates, and claimed playing live with new musicians made him more relaxed on stage.

He explained: ''John's bass sound was like a Messiaen organ. Every note, every harmonic in the sky. When he passed away and I did the first few shows without him, with Pino [Palladino] on bass, he was playing without all that stuff... I said, 'Wow, I have a job'.

''With Keith, my job was keeping time, because he didn't do that. So when he passed away, it was like, 'Oh, I don't have to keep time anymore.' ''

Pete also had some strong words for Keith's conduct in the studio, as he claimed he used to think the sessions were a ''f***ing waste of time''.

He added: ''We're not a band anymore. There's a lot of people who don't like it when I say it, but we're just not a f***ing band. Even when we were, I used to sit there thinking, 'This is a f***ing waste of time. Take 26 because Keith Moon has had one glass of brandy too many.' ''