Who received IRA death threats

Rock legends The Who have revealed they received threats from the IRA when they first played in Ireland.

The band are guaranteed a rapturous welcome when they perform their first Irish gigs in six years when they kick off a European tour later this summer.

However, guitarist Pete Townshend admitted the English group’s first gigs here, in Dublin, Cork, and Belfast shortly after they formed in 1964 were “disastrous”.

He said their concert in Belfast was ruined when republicans took exception to the distinctive union flag-emblazoned jackets that he and fellow original members Roger Daltrey, John Entwhistle, and Keith Moon wore at the time.

He recalled: “Our first shows in Ireland were in the very, very early days and they were kind of disastrous.

“One of them in Belfast was marred by a threat from the IRA because we were wearing union jack jackets.”

But Townshend, whose grandfather hailed from Cork, said the intimidating experience didn’t put him off the country.

And he promised Irish fans would be “cheered up” when the band opens their ‘Quadrophenia and More’ European tour with dates in Dublin and Belfast in June.

The 67-year-old, one of two surviving founding members along with singer Roger Daltrey, said: “The main thing I want to say about playing in Ireland is that this is one of the most important countries in the world for me and my past and the various bits of Irish blood we all claim to have — which is true for me.

The Who play Dublin’s O2 Arena on Jun 8 and Belfast’s Odyssey Arena on Jun 10.

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