Thanks A Lot Mr Kibblewhite
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.