Pete Townshend had previously announced he planned a release in late spring or early summer...

THE WHO have delayed the release of their first studio album in 23 years.

The band’s guitarist and songwriter Pete Townshend had previously announced he planned to work on the new material, with a view to release in late spring or early summer 2005.

The band’s last album, ‘It’s Hard’, was released in 1982 although the band have continued to tour sporadically since then. They did issue two new tracks on this year’s hits compilation ‘Then & Now’ – ‘Real Good Looking Boy’ and ‘Old Red Wine’.

In a message to fans on his official website petetownshend.co.uk the star says the new Who album will still be released, but just not in the original time frame. He also said that plans to tour have been delayed as drummer Zak Starkey will be touring with Oasis until the end of the year.

He said: “The new Who album has been delayed, not cancelled. The release date I had hoped for in the late spring or very early summer was whipped from under my nose after three years of writing.

”Shows we hoped to do in the early summer seemed to fizzle, and we lost our drummer to Oasis until January 2006. All alternatives proposed, and which I have desperately considered, do not fit in with my current commitments. I am committed to record the music for my new story The Boy Who Heard Music. I am also completing my autobiography later this year. Sadly, this forces a postponement of the planned Who activity this year for some indeterminate time. “

The guitarist said that he works “very slowly in the studio”, and that singer Roger Daltrey has recorded “sketch vocals on several tracks”.

The band’s original bass player John Entwistle died in Las Vegas in 2002 from a heart attack and drummer Keith Moon passed away from an accidental drug overdose in 1978.