Roger interview in The Sun - Part One
brianinatlanta2001 at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 21 07:07:20 CST 2007
Roger's journey with The Who
By SIMON COSYNS
HIS blond curls are way shorter than the lion’s mane of his Tommy days.
But there’s no mistaking the iconic singer sitting opposite me – The Who’s Roger Daltrey.
At 63, he looks in fine fettle. He comes across as thoughtful, perceptive yet prone to throwing his head back in peels of laughter when recounting the good times.
To celebrate the brilliant new DVD, Amazing Journey: The Story Of The Who, Roger takes SFTW through the highs and lows of his own amazing journey. He talks about how music became his passion, how he met The Who’s other members – Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon – how they became superstars and the time he got expelled from the band after a ruck with Moon.
He says rock opera Tommy was the band’s defining moment. He remembers performing at Woodstock in 1969 and talks about the thrill of playing Glastonbury this year. He speaks of his sadness at the early deaths of Moon and Entwistle but says their spirit lives on in The Who today. On the DVD, through countless interviews and fantastic footage, you can follow the story of a Great British Band but here we get the remarkably candid views of its singer.
I’M A BOY
Roger Harry Daltrey was born on March 1, 1944, during an air raid.
What was it like in the late Forties and early Fifties?
It was post-war England. People say “everyone was very poor” but I never felt we were poor. We had an incredible social structure that supported us. The neighbourhood was working class Shepherds Bush. My life was really good up to when I passed my 11-plus. From then on, it all turned to s**t!
Why was that?
My parents moved to Chiswick which is, as the crow flies, probably no more than a mile and a half away, a much more dormant neighbourhood, more of a suburb. I had to move to Acton County Grammar School which took in kids from middle class areas. I’d never met a middle class person in my bloody life! They were talking a foreign language.
Did you become a tearaway?
No, I didn’t. First of all, I shut off and then I started getting a little bit bullied ’cos I’m a little bloke. I had a terrible, terrible explosive temper. One time I got bullied, I lost my temper and I went off like a firework. When I was a strong young man, it was terrifying. It used to frighten me ’cos I didn’t used to know what I became but people backed off. From then on, I got a reputation as a tearaway but I don’t think I knowingly picked on anyone. I just loved to fight . . . that’s what boys did
ANYWAY, ANYHOW, ANYWHERE
After discovering Elvis, all Roger wanted to do was hear music and play it — anyway, anyhow, anywhere.
You discovered you could sing?
Yeah, I had perfect pitch. I didn’t know what perfect pitch was but I actually had it, which was a help! Then when I saw Elvis it was just “f*** me, what’s that?” He turned my head. It was like watching someone from outer space. I said to my teacher: “Did you see Elvis on the TV?” and he said: “It was bloody disgusting, wasn’t it?” That did it!
Who else made an impact?
Well, Elvis made me notice “that’s a good thing to do” but Lonnie Donegan made me realise “I can do that”.
You played guitar in your first band?
The skiffle thing was taking off. I just had to get a guitar. We couldn’t afford to buy one so I bought some wood and some guitar strings and made one. It wasn’t very good, like playing a cheesewire, but it taught me. It made the noise of a guitar and I could play, relatively in tune, the first three chords that anyone needed for most skiffle songs.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
Teenage Roger was expelled from school and had to get a job. By day, he was an apprentice sheet metal worker, by night he played guitar.
How did your band progress?
We got our skiffle group together but my first guitar folded up within three to four months. It literally couldn’t stand the strain on the strings. The second one was quite reasonable. Someone at my dad’s work had a guitar and we copied it. It was a big step up and allowed me to go on playing.
Did you write your own stuff or was it all covers?
It was all copy, copy, copy, copy. We went through the Buddy Holly/Cliff Richard period and, all of a sudden, instead of acoustic guitars there was this spaceship, the Fender. Wow!
How was school by this point?
On my 15th birthday I was thrown out. They wanted to get rid of me and used the excuse that I was smoking. My mum and dad were devastated. In those days it was a big deal and, on reflection, I’m sad I didn’t learn more because I’m a bright bloke. But in a lot of ways it was the best day of my bloody life because I got out into the “real” world. I was not untalented and I was willing to work. The first job I did was for £2.50 a week in today’s money as an electrician’s mate. It was the winter of ’62 and, after six weeks, I thought “this is slavery”. It was also bloody freezing. I became a tea-boy and apprentice sheet metal worker.
But you still had these music ambitions burning inside you?
Oh, yeah, I was still playing every night at the boys’ club in the Goldhawk Road. I went from acoustic material into electric. My Fender was copied from a guitar shop window. They were more than £100 then. You could buy a house for £100. That’s how much money they were. My dad had to get the equivalent of a mortgage to buy my first factory-made guitar.
When did you think you could make a living out of music?
It was just a progression. We got “would you come and play my party?” and we’d say “yeah, all right”. By then we were The Detours. We were doing covers of whatever was in the charts. We had a Cliff Richard sound-a-like singer and I was the guitarist. We all did the leg movements like every band. It was wonderfully, innocently magical.\
WHO ARE YOU
Things really began to take off for Roger when he met bassist John Entwistle, who introduced him to guitarist Pete Townshend. Then a certain larger-than-life drummer barged his way in.
How did you get to the next level?
John Entwistle joined. Our bass player left and I saw Entwistle walking down the street with a homemade bass. There was immediate kinship. I recognised John from Acton County Grammar. He was in a band, playing bass but also trumpet, doing trad jazz along with pop. In those days you did what people wanted.
Did you feel something different when John joined?
What’s weird is how I remember John from school. I was a year older but I remember his character. He stuck out in a crowd. He had a wicked sense of humour and was a nice, quiet guy, a technically and immediately brilliant musician.
Then what happened?
Our rhythm guitarist left and John introduced Pete and again, when Pete joined, he stood out like a sore thumb. Of the 100 kids who came through that year, I remember those two.
What was Pete like then?
Same as he is now. He had a certainty about him. He knew that what he was going to do was always going to be different. I recognised that. As a musician, he just had it. I had a thing about making the music “drive” and he understood it. When it gets sloppy, it’s all over.
At what point did you have confidence to take over the singing?
Singers came and went. I started singing because we were let down by them getting drunk. Lead singers are f***ing temperamental, you know. So I started filling in for the singer as well as being the roadie. Driving the van was useful ’cos I got to use it for all kinds of extra-curricular activities!
-Brian in Atlanta
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