Roger interview in The Sun - Part Two
brianinatlanta2001 at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 21 07:10:15 CST 2007
Did you meet girls as a musician?
Oh, mate, it was amazing. That’s all you want to do at that age. You just want to party every night. Go out and play music, dance, have fun and have women. It was easy access. Your brain doesn’t go any further at that age. It’s what we’re put here for. It was wonderful.
How did Keith Moon come into the picture?
That was after The Beatles had arrived which was “whoa, whoa, whoa, this is all different.” We started doing their numbers and then we discovered Tamla Motown and the blues.
What other things did you play?
Lots of blues bands did Chuck Berry but we did Howlin’ Wolf and John Lee Hooker. They were doing the easy, accessible stuff but we were doing Smokestack Lightnin’. Imagine this 18-year-old Roger Daltrey singing Howlin’ Wolf songs, f***ing terrifying, frightening the women to death! I did quite a good impression.
What was it like as the frontman?
Maybe because I don’t see the band at all (being out front), everything comes to me through a sixth sense. All I can tell you is that when Moon joined, we’d found the missing link. Our whole world changed.
Moon introduced himself by saying “He’s crap (about our drummer). I’m going to be your new drummer, can I have a go?” We started playing Bo Diddley’s Roadrunner and Moon got on the drums. All of a sudden, Moon started doubling the beat and this roar started up. Then there was Townshend with his rhythmic sense. It was magic, like putting the key into the most perfect Ferrari you’ve ever driven. With Entwistle and his melodic bass, everything gelled.
I CAN’T EXPLAIN
By the mid-Sixties, The Who’s blend of power chords and stirring melodies gave them that elusive, superstar quality and Roger and Co had turned from scruffs into sharp-suited Mods.
Who chose the name The Who?
A guy called Richard Barnes, a friend of Pete’s at art school, came up with it. We were throwing up all kinds of absurd names but we kept coming back to The Who. The sound of it is encompassing.
Can you explain your success?
I ask myself, “How did it come together, how?” It’s like Lennon and McCartney. The sound of their voices together was so unique. You think of all the billions of f***ing people on this planet, so how did they go on the stage and do what they did? There must be a God.
What about your image?
We were like most blues bands in London — long hair, scruffy, like the Stones, the Yardbirds, everyone. Then we met a guy who had worked for Andrew Oldham with the Stones and he understood the value of image and he recognised things were changing very, very fast. He recognised this new wave of youth culture coming through. The Mod era. He said: “They need spokesmen” and overnight we were turned from long-haired scruffs into Mods.
Didn’t Mods get terrible publicity during that period over their fights with Rockers?
You can’t judge what’s really going on by tabloid newspapers. You should know that! It was more about kids running around more than anything. It wasn’t like it is today with guns and knives. If anyone got killed, it was probably by accident. When you look back at the photographs, you see one copper on the beach with a truncheon chasing 500 Mods. it was more “let’s just cause a bit of havoc”. Every teenage group with that energy will do something.
Did The Who have screaming girls at that point?
Not in the early days but after Can’t Explain, yeah. It was the screaming era every band had on the way up. It was fun but the trouble for a performer when you’re that young and inexperienced, you start to judge your performance by the amount they scream. It’s nonsense, which is why Lennon gave up.
Songs like My Generation (“hope I die before I get old”) and The Kids Are Alright were rallying cries for Sixties youth everywhere. But Roger kept his feet on the ground.
How did you regard Pete’s classic early Who songs?
He had his finger on the pulse and we suddenly saw it. He’s always had the courage to break away from the norm.
What was it like when you first sang My Generation?
It was just another song, to be honest. I remember saying “this is a good song, Pete, let’s do this, yeah great”. But it’s only another song.
When were The Who first mentioned in the same breath as The Beatles and the Stones?
Well, people probably perceive it as being around the My Generation era but there was a fallow period after that. We had hit singles and we were a singles band. What cemented us with any kind of musical cred was Tommy.
Pete developed the “concept album” with A Quick One.
A lot of it was to do with our producer Kit Lambert because his father was Constant Lambert, who founded Sadlers Wells. Pete and Kit used to talk about a pop single being great for three minutes but how it could be much more. A Quick One is a kind of mini-opera, basically a tribute to the pirate radio stations. It’s one of my favourite Who albums. So much fun.
TOMMY, CAN YOU HEAR ME
The revolutionary rock-opera concept album Tommy told the story of a deaf, dumb and blind kid who sure played a mean pinball. The Who came of age.
How did Tommy come into being?
Pete didn’t come with it. It just grew from one or two songs. Then it was going to be the story of a deaf, dumb and blind boy. “Oh, really!?” Again I just trusted that Pete could carry all before him. Each day, he would say “here’s another song” and we built it up in the studio.
How important was the album for you?
It was doubly important for me because in ’65, after My Generation, I got expelled from the band on our first tour of Europe. I had a ruck with Keith. The others had started taking amphetamines. I wasn’t because I’m a singer.
Start taking that stuff and the first thing that happens is your voice disappears. At the end of the tour, they were playing so bad, a f***ing racket. It was awful. I went in the dressing room and flushed the gear down the toilet. Moon went nuts. Of course, I was the wrong person to have a go at. Ended up in a huge brawl and I was thrown out for six to eight weeks.
How did you feel during that time you were out?
I thought “If they want to be like that, b******* to them. I started a band once and I’ll do it again”. I was never down about it but when I got the chance to go back, it was all I wanted. Once I was back in on parole, they made life miserable for me for the first year! Then in 1967, we went to America and bonded again, especially on the Herman’s Hermits tour. Even then, if you were the butt of some of Moon’s jokes, it wasn’t always very funny.
Tommy turned things around?
Once we started doing Tommy, I suddenly realised that I was singing about me. I’d been the deaf, dumb and blind boy. I’d become compressed into that character. So I had something. I came out of myself and thought “f*** it, I’m going to do it this way”.
What was it like playing the Tommy songs live?
Often when I come off stage, people will say: “God, you’re so unhappy, what’s the matter?” I’m actually not unhappy at all. I’m actually, in my life, very happy. I suggest that Pete writes songs from very complicated parts of our psyche and if I really want to inhabit a song, I have to go to where he’s been to sing the damn thing.
-Brian in Atlanta
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