Roger Daltrey

Thanks A Lot Mr Kib­ble­white

Classic Rock - - The Hard Stuff - Ian Fort­nam

Who vo­cal­ist pulls no punches.

Con­ver­sa­tional, witty, rev­e­la­tory, Daltrey’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy is pos­si­bly the most read­able ac­count yet of the band’s uniquely fra­cas­filled jour­ney to­ward rock im­mor­tal­ity. If you want foren­sic de­tail (the kind of in­con­se­quen­tial minu­tiae fans in­vari­ably pore over yet cen­tral pro­tag­o­nists barely reg­is­ter), then look else­where, but for an un­var­nished first-per­son ac­count from the eye of the storm, look no fur­ther.

Born in Ham­mer­smith, raised in Shep­herd’s Bush, Daltrey’s top-of-the­class smarts earned him a place at Ac­ton Gram­mar School, a counter-pro­duc­tive move that con­ferred fish-out-of-wa­ter rebel sta­tus upon the alien­ated 12-year old just as rock’n’roll ar­rived into his life. Caught smok­ing, tru­ant­ing, fash­ion­ing baggy trousers into drain­pipes and, ul­ti­mately, with an air­gun, he was ex­pelled at 15 with the in­spir­ing words of his ap­palled head­mas­ter, the tit­u­lar Mr Kib­ble­white, ring­ing in his ears: “You’ll never make any­thing of your life, Daltrey.”

Else­where in his for­ma­tive ed­u­ca­tion, Elvis had led to skiff le. Daltrey fash­ioned a series of home-made guitars be­fore hook­ing up with John En­twistle, then Pete Town­shend, then Keith Moon, and the rest, as they say, is au­tode­struc­tion.

In an un­flinch­ing ac­count, we dis­cover that across the decades, Daltrey – the bruiser at cen­tre-stage, arc­ing his mi­cro­phone like a lar­iat, angst in­car­nate – was ac­tu­ally The Who’s voice of rea­son. In 1965, while on tour in Den­mark, he gath­ered the band – that he’d formed, in­ci­den­tally – to­gether and told them that their diet of pills (up­pers, down­ers, leapers, the lot) was caus­ing them to speed up and, ul­ti­mately, fuck up, and that they should quit us­ing them while per­form­ing. So they sacked him. They soon re­alised he couldn’t be re­placed, and in­vited him back, but you get the pic­ture.

Life in The Who, try­ing to keep the oth­ers in check while mak­ing sense of the ever-un­fold­ing mad­ness as it im­pacted on his own san­ity, has never been what you’d call straight­for­ward. Which is ex­cel­lent news for the reader. Daltrey tells it straight: Moon “knew which but­tons to push”; En­twistle was “spite­ful”; talk­ing to Town­shend’s like “walk­ing through a mine­field in clown shoes. And a blind­fold”. And those seven years Who man­ager Bill Cur­bish­ley spent in the mer­chant navy? “He was in pri­son.”

We also learn that af­ter the first night Daltrey spent with his wife of 50 years she woke up scream­ing: “Your hair! Your hair!” His in­dus­trial-strength Dip­pity-Do hair gel had worn off in the night. She’d gone to bed with a sleek-coif­fured mod and wo­ken up with Roger Daltrey.

Stick this on your bed­side ta­ble and you can too.

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