Heavy Load

Roger Daltrey

Classic Rock - - Contents - In­ter­view: Ian Fort­nam

The Who front­man on The Who, Pete Town­shend’s ar­rest, not hav­ing re­grets and the se­cret of a suc­cess­ful mar­riage.

Roger Daltrey on The Who, Pete Town­shend’s ar­rest, not hav­ing re­grets and the se­cret of a suc­cess­ful mar­riage.

Roger Harry Daltrey CBE fash­ioned his first gui­tar with his own hands. He’s been a sheet metal worker, por­trayed Franz Liszt on the sil­ver screen, farmed trout and is the driv­ing force be­hind the Teenage Cancer Trust char­ity. In ad­di­tion to an es­teemed solo ca­reer, he’s fronted The Who, in­ter­pret­ing the lyrics of Pete Town­shend for more than half a cen­tury while try­ing to keep the peace in one of the most

volatile bands in rock his­tory.

Do you, or did you ever, be­lieve in God? Go­ing to church and singing in the choir was part of my life, so I must have done at some time, but I don’t now.

What ef­fect did go­ing to gram­mar school have on your life?

Dev­as­tat­ingly good [laughs]. It made my life work out like it has, but it was a dev­as­tat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and I hated every minute of it.

I had noth­ing in com­mon with any­one. Ar­riv­ing at gram­mar school, the class sys­tem hits you be­tween the eyes and kicks you in the bol­locks all at once.

What do you think is the big­gest mis­con­cep­tion about you?

I dunno. I don’t give a fuck. Ev­ery­one’s got their own opin­ion that they’re all en­ti­tled to.

How did you feel when you were sacked from The Who in 1965?

I knew our chem­istry was fan­tas­tic, but it was all go­ing down the toi­let be­cause they kept putting th­ese bloody pills down their gobs. Some­thing had to give, so I said: “Either stop tak­ing the drugs or the band’s over.” I was try­ing to keep a bunch of ge­niuses play­ing to the best of their abil­ity rather than like a load of bloody chim­panzees. The jour­ney home was in­cred­i­bly silent. No one spoke to me. Then I got a mes­sage from the of­fice: “‘They will not work with you any more, Roger. You’re out of the band.” So for two days it was like: “Oh fuck, what have I done?” Then it was: “Fuck it. I started that band, I’ll start an­other one.” And I would have.

What can you do that no one else can?

I can look in the mirror and see me look­ing back.

Did The Who en­dure be­cause of Kit Lam­bert and Chris Stamp’s man­age­ment, or de­spite it?

Be­cause of it. We couldn’t have done it with­out them. They were ge­niuses in their cre­ative vi­sion for The Who. It was in­cred­i­bly painful hav­ing to get rid of Kit and Chris. I never re­ally wanted to get rid of them, I just wanted them to take a back seat, be cre­ative, rather than run our busi­ness. What is your great­est re­gret?

I don’t have re­grets. I can’t re­gret any of it. I’ve made huge mis­takes, but I don’t re­gret any of it be­cause it’s turned me into who I am now.

What was the low­est point of your ca­reer?

When Pete was ar­rested [in 2003]. Not only did I know it was com­pletely out of char­ac­ter for Pete, I felt for ev­ery­one af­fected by it. I know how it af­fected my fam­ily, and I thought about his fam­ily and the peo­ple that love him. It was an

in­cred­i­bly painful pe­riod for all of us.

What was the worst thing film direc­tor Ken Russell made you do?

Hang on to a cliff face with a five-hun­dred­foot drop be­neath me for the end of Tommy.

I was dressed in a pair of jeans, noth­ing on my feet, no shirt, shiv­er­ing, and I heard: “Hang on, Roger, we’re just wait­ing for the light.”

What was your big­gest waste of money? Cars. They’re lumps of tin. We’re all in the same traf­fic jam, so who gives a shit what you’re driv­ing. But when you’ve got the ego of youth, you want Fer­raris.

What’s the se­cret of a suc­cess­ful rock’n’roll mar­riage?

A good wife who un­der­stands the busi­ness. She did, and we’re fifty years to­gether. I never lied to her. At the start I said I’m never go­ing to be a nor­mal hus­band, and she ac­cepted it. And be­cause she ac­cepted it I was nowhere near as bad as I had the po­ten­tial to be.

You’ve said Keith Moon “knew which but­tons to push”, John En­twistle had a “very spite­ful streak”, and talk­ing to Pete is like “walk­ing through a mine­field in clown shoes”. So why do you love th­ese peo­ple?

Be­cause they were my mates and I recog­nised their tal­ent. They were bril­liant. The great thing about them was that we used to fire each other up. That’s what it was all about.

What in your life are you most proud of? That’s an easy one. My fam­ily, The Who and my manag­ing to get the Teenage Cancer Trust thing out to Amer­ica recog­nised for the work they do. I’m as driven by that now as I was ever driven by The Who.

What will be writ­ten on your tomb­stone?

‘Died and never went to Har­rod’s’ [laughs]. John En­twistle lived in Har­rod’s. He’d order any­thing just so the van could come up his drive for the neigh­bours. Roger Daltrey’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy Thanks A Lot, Mr Kib­ble­white is avail­able now, pub­lished by Blink Pub­lish­ing.

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