Mumford & Sons Guitarist Winston Marshall Leaves Band After Political Controversy

Winston Marshall of Mumford & Sons performs during the Okeechobee Music Festival at Sunshine Grove on March 08, 2020 in Okeechobee, Florida.
Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage

The controversy started in March, when Marshall congratulated conservative journalist Andy Ngo on his new book.

Winston Marshall has decided to leave Mumford & Sons. In an essay published on Medium, the guitarist and banjo player said that after getting embroiled in a political controversy in March, he's quitting the band in order to stop the hate that's been directed at his bandmates and in order for him to be able to speak freely.

The controversy started in March, when Marshall congratulated conservative journalist Andy Ngo on his book, Unmasked: Inside Antifa's Radical Plan to Destroy Democracy. In a since-deleted tweet, Marshall wrote, "Congratulations @MrAndyNgo. Finally had time to read your important book. You're a brave man."  

According to The Los Angeles Times, Ngo's book downplays the murder of Heather Heyer by white nationalists in Charlottesville and the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. Ngo himself is controversial, as he has been accused of misrepresenting facts. Marshall received backlash for his tweet, which he later apologized for. At the time, he said he was temporarily taking time away from Mumford & Sons.

But on Thursday, Marshall shared that he has decided to leave the band permanently. Marshall said the hate he received for his initial tweet took a serious toll on his bandmates -- which includes Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett and Ted Dwane -- as well as his loved ones.

"I failed to foresee that my commenting on a book critical of the Far-Left could be interpreted as approval of the equally abhorrent Far-Right," he writes. "Nothing could be further from the truth. Thirteen members of my family were murdered in the concentration camps of the Holocaust. My Grandma, unlike her cousins, aunts and uncles, survived. She and I were close. My family knows the evils of fascism painfully well. To say the least. To call me 'fascist' was ludicrous beyond belief."

Marshall said he was pressured to apologize because he wanted to protect his bandmates.

"The truth is that my commenting on a book that documents the extreme Far-Left and their activities is in no way an endorsement of the equally repugnant Far-Right," he writes. "The truth is that reporting on extremism at the great risk of endangering oneself is unquestionably brave. I also feel that my previous apology in a small way participates in the lie that such extremism does not exist, or worse, is a force for good."

Marshall said he was leaving the band in order to continue to protect his bandmates, and so that he can speak freely.

"For me to speak about what I've learnt to be such a controversial issue will inevitably bring my bandmates more trouble," he writes. "My love, loyalty and accountability to them cannot permit that. I could remain and continue to self-censor but it will erode my sense of integrity. Gnaw my conscience. I've already felt that beginning."

"The only way forward for me is to leave the band," he continues. "I hope in distancing myself from them I am able to speak my mind without them suffering the consequences. I leave with love in my heart and I wish those three boys nothing but the best. I have no doubt that their stars will shine long into the future. I will continue my work with Hong Kong Link Up and I look forward to new creative projects as well as speaking and writing on a variety of issues, challenging as they may be."

In a tweet on Thursday, Mumford & Sons made it clear they were still on good terms with Marshall.

"We wish you all the best for the future, Win, and we love you man. M, B & T," the band tweeted.