45 years ago, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey did most of their communicating to one another through the rock press -- today, the friends since middle school are not only closer than they've ever been -- they just might be close for the first time.

In a new chat with Rolling Stone, Pete Townshend spoke about Daltrey and admitted, "I used to say that I love him, but with my fingers crossed. Now, I like him too. I like all his eccentricities, his foibles, his self-obsession, and his singer thing. Everything about him. . . If you watch Roger onstage, he goes through a lot of visual phases. Sometimes, he can't stop himself looking over at me. It's irritation. It's irritation that I'm even there."

Townshend, who along with Daltrey, heads up the Who's touring ensemble -- or "brand," as Townshend likes to call them -- and was asked about his thoughts about performing today without original drummer Keith Moon, who died in 1978 and John Entwistle, who passed in 2002: "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."

Townshend spoke frankly of Entwistle, who is considered one of the greatest -- if not the greatest -- musicians in rock: "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 (his replacement) Pino (Palladino) on bass, he was playing without all that stuff. . . I said, 'Wow, I have a job.'"

He went on to say of the beloved Moon: "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 Townshend reflected on the musical connection he shared with John Entwistle and Keith Moon: "The improvisation was sadly dependent on me, because I led the band off on these musical exercises. And John on bass and Keith on drums; we tried to play together like an engine. Keith, and John, and I, we tried to track each other. We would try to work together. We'd try and stay right on top of each other as though we were in each other's heads. And there are moments every now and again throughout our career where we, we hit that. And that's always very exciting 'cause it's very strange."

The Who releases its 12th studio album, WHO, on December 6th.

AUDIO: PETE TOWNSHEND ON PLAYING WITH JOHN ENTWISTLE AND KEITH MOON