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Daltrey performing live, 2016
|Birth name||Roger Harry Daltrey|
1 March 1944|
East Acton, London, England
Roger Harry Daltrey CBE (born 1 March 1944) is an English singer, musician, and actor. In a career spanning more than 50 years, Daltrey came to prominence in the mid-1960s as the founder and lead singer of the rock band the Who, which released 14 singles that entered the Top 10 charts in the United Kingdom during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, including "I Can't Explain", "My Generation", "Substitute", "I'm a Boy", "Happy Jack", "Pictures of Lily", "Pinball Wizard", "Won't Get Fooled Again", and "You Better You Bet". Daltrey began his solo career in 1973, while still a member of the Who. Since then, he has released eight studio albums, five compilation albums, and one live album. His solo hits include "Giving It All Away", "Walking the Dog", "Written on the Wind", "Free Me", "Without Your Love", "Walking in My Sleep", "After the Fire", and "Under a Raging Moon". In 2010, he was ranked as number 61 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest singers of all time.
As a member of the Who, Daltrey received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Phonographic Industry in 1988, and from the Grammy Foundation in 2001. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. The Who are considered one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century, selling over 100 million records worldwide. He and Pete Townshend received Kennedy Center Honors in 2008 and The George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement at UCLA on 21 May 2016.
Daltrey has also been an actor and film producer, with roles in films, theatre, and television.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Career with the Who
- 3 Solo career
- 4 Discography
- 5 Collaborations
- 6 Rock persona and legacy
- 7 Musical equipment
- 8 Acting career
- 9 Filmography
- 10 Literary work
- 11 Other business ventures
- 12 Honours and awards
- 13 Charities
- 14 Personal life
- 15 References
- 16 Additional reading
- 17 External links
Early life and education
Roger Harry Daltrey was born on 1 March 1944, in Hammersmith Hospital, East Acton, west London, England, one of three children of Irene and Harry Daltrey. Daltrey's father fought in World War II at the time, and came home a few years later. He was brought up in Acton, the same working class suburban district that produced fellow Who members Pete Townshend, and John Entwistle.
Daltrey attended Victoria Primary School and then Acton County Grammar School along with Townshend and Entwistle. He showed academic promise in the English state school system, ranking at the top of his class on the eleven-plus examination that led to his enrolment at the Acton County Grammar School. His parents hoped that he would eventually continue on to study at university, but Daltrey turned out to be a self-described "school rebel" and developed a dedicated interest in the emerging rock and roll music scene instead.
He made his first guitar from a block of wood, a cherry red Stratocaster replica, and joined a skiffle band called the Detours in need of a lead singer. They told him that he had to bring a guitar, and within a few weeks he showed up with it, and he could play it too. When his father bought him an Epiphone guitar in 1959, he became the lead guitarist for the band; soon afterwards he was expelled from school for tobacco smoking. Townshend wrote in his autobiography, "until he was expelled Roger had been a good pupil."
Daltrey became a sheet metal worker during the day, while practising, and performing nights with the band at weddings, pubs, and working men's clubs. He invited schoolmate Entwistle to play bass guitar in the band, and on the advice of Entwistle, invited Townshend to play guitar. At that time, the band also had Doug Sandom on drums and Colin Dawson on lead vocals. After Dawson left the band, Daltrey switched to lead vocals, and played harmonica as well, while Townshend became the lead guitarist. In 1964, drummer Sandom left the band, eventually being replaced by Keith Moon.
Early on, Daltrey was the band's leader, earning a reputation for using his fists to exercise control when needed, despite his small stature (his height is reportedly 1.65 metres (5 ft 5 in)). According to Townshend, Daltrey "ran things the way he wanted. If you argued with him, you usually got a bunch of fives" (slaps or punches). He generally selected the music that they performed, including songs by the Beatles, various Motown artists, James Brown, and rock standards.
In 1964, the band discovered another band performing as the Detours and discussed changing their name. Townshend suggested "the Hair" and Townshend's roommate Richard Barnes suggested "the Who." The next morning, Daltrey made the decision for the band, saying "It's the Who, innit?"[This quote needs a citation]
During 1964, band manager Peter Meaden renamed the band to "the High Numbers" as part of a move to establish the band as Mod favourites. The name was a reference to the T-shirts with "numbers" that the Mods used at the time. Peter Meaden composed Mod songs for them (the songs were almost copies of Mod hits at the time, with changed lyrics) and they released one single, "I'm the Face/Zoot Suit", on Fontana Records. The single proved to be commercially unsuccessful.
Career with the Who
With the band's first hit single ("I Can't Explain") and record deal in early 1965, Townshend began writing original material and Daltrey's dominance of the band began to decrease.
The other members of the Who expelled Daltrey from the band in late 1965 after he beat up their drummer Keith Moon for supplying illegal drugs to Townshend and Entwistle, causing him to re-examine his methods of dealing with people. A week later, Daltrey was admitted back to the band, but was told he'd be on probation. He promised that there would be no more violent outbursts or assaults. Daltrey recalled, "I thought if I lost the band I was dead. If I didn't stick with the Who, I would be a sheet metal worker for the rest of my life."
The band's second single, "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere", was the only song on which Daltrey and Townshend collaborated, and Daltrey wrote only two other songs for the band during these years. As Townshend developed into one of rock's most accomplished composers, Daltrey's vocals became the vehicle through which Townshend's visions were expressed, and he gained an equally vaunted reputation as a powerful singer and riveting front-man. The Who's stage act was highly energetic, and Daltrey's habit of swinging the microphone around by its cord on stage became his signature move.
Daltrey's Townshend-inspired stuttering expression of youthful anger, frustration, and arrogance in the band's breakthrough single, "My Generation", captured the revolutionary feeling of the 1960s for many young people around the world and became the band's trademark. Later, his scream near the end of "Won't Get Fooled Again" became a defining moment in rock and roll.
By 1973, Daltrey was experiencing considerable success with his solo projects and acting roles. While other members of the band worked on recording the music for Quadrophenia, Daltrey used some of this time to check the Who's books. He found they had fallen into disarray under the management of Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp. Lambert was also Pete Townshend's artistic mentor, and challenging him led to renewed tension within the band. During a filming session (in an incident that Daltrey claimed was overblown) Townshend and Daltrey argued over the schedule. Townshend hit Daltrey over the head with his guitar, and Daltrey responded by knocking Townshend unconscious with a single blow.
With each of the Who's milestone achievements, Tommy, Who's Next, and Quadrophenia, Daltrey was the face and voice of the band as they defined themselves as the ultimate rebels in a generation of change. When Ken Russell's adaptation of Tommy appeared as a feature film in 1975, Daltrey played the lead role, and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for "Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture" and appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine on 10 April 1975. Afterward, Daltrey worked with Russell again, starring as Franz Liszt in Lisztomania. He worked with Rick Wakeman on the soundtrack to this film, writing the lyrics to three songs and also performing these, as well as others.
The Who continued after the death of their drummer Keith Moon in 1978, but tension continued to rise as Daltrey felt that new drummer Kenney Jones was the wrong choice for the Who. In 1980, Daltrey completed a drama film called McVicar about British bank robber John McVicar. Daltrey produced and starred in the film, and completed a soundtrack with other members of the band. This success, along with other stresses, contributed to a deterioration of relations with Townshend, and the Who retired from active touring in 1982 when Townshend felt that he was no longer able to write for the band. The band continued to work together sporadically, reuniting for the Live Aid concert, and recording songs for Daltrey's solo album Under a Raging Moon, and Townshend's solo album The Iron Man: The Musical by Pete Townshend.
Daltrey turned to working as an actor, with roles in projects such as The Beggar's Opera and The Comedy of Errors for the BBC. He appeared in several film, television, and stage productions during this period, including Mike Batt's The Hunting of the Snark (1987), The Little Match Girl (1987), Buddy's Song (1992), which he also produced, and Mack the Knife (1990). In 1991, he received a Grammy Award with the Chieftains for An Irish Evening: Live at the Grand Opera House, Belfast. In 1993 Daltrey starred in an episode of Tales From The Crypt.
The Who returned in 1989 with their 25th Anniversary Tour, which was also the 20th anniversary of their rock opera Tommy. The tour featured a large backing band, and guest appearances by Steve Winwood, Patti LaBelle, Phil Collins, Elton John, and Billy Idol. In spite of an abdominal hemangioma (later removed by surgery), Daltrey managed to complete the tour. He continued to work on stage and screen, completing projects such as The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True (1995) appearing as the Tin Woodman alongside Nathan Lane, Joel Grey, Natalie Cole, and Jewel as Dorothy. During this time, he also began to appear in US television shows.
In 1994, Daltrey celebrated his 50th birthday by performing a two-night spectacular at Carnegie Hall titled A Celebration: The Music of Pete Townshend and The Who, which is popularly also known as Daltrey Sings Townshend. The Who's music was arranged for orchestra by Michael Kamen, who conducted the Juilliard Orchestra for the event. Bob Ezrin, who produced Pink Floyd's The Wall album, among other famous albums, produced the live album. Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, Eddie Vedder (who performed a special acoustic tribute), Sinéad O'Connor, Lou Reed, David Sanborn, Alice Cooper, Linda Perry, the Chieftains, and others performed as special guests. Michael Lindsay-Hogg directed the telecast, which was aired on satellite TV. The concert, at the time, was the fastest sell-out in the famed venue's history.The event was co-produced by Richard Flanzer, his manager at the time. The event was followed by a major tour financed by Daltrey and including John Entwistle on bass, Zak Starkey on drums, and Simon Townshend on guitar. Although the tour was considered an artistic success, it failed to make any profit due to the expense of providing extraordinary musicians and orchestras in every city to replicate the Carnegie Hall event. Significantly, the tour did attract attention to songs from the Who's rock opera Quadrophenia and gathered support for a staging and major tour of the rock opera in 1996–97.
In 1996, Pete Townshend was approached to produce Quadrophenia for the Prince's Trust concert at Hyde Park, London. He at first planned to perform the opera as a solo acoustic piece using parts of the film on the screens, but after receiving offers of financing decided on a full-out production. When he first contacted Daltrey to request a collaboration, Daltrey refused, but after some discussion, he agreed to help produce a one-off performance. The opera was performed with a large backing band, including John Entwistle on bass, Pete Townshend on acoustic guitar, and vocals, Zak Starkey on drums, John "Rabbit" Bundrick, and Jon Carin on keyboards, Simon Townshend on guitar, and special guests including David Gilmour, Ade Edmondson, Trevor McDonald, and Gary Glitter. A horn section and backing vocalists were added, along with other actors. On the night before the show, Daltrey was struck in the face by a microphone stand swung by Gary Glitter. The accident fractured his eye socket and caused considerable concern that he might not be able to perform safely, but Daltrey donned an eye-patch to cover the bruises and completed the show as scheduled. Afterward, Townshend decided to take the production on tour in 1996–97 as the Who.
After their Quadrophenia tour was successful, the band returned as the Who in a stripped-down, five-piece line-up for tours in 1999–2000. The band continued to work together, making a major impact at the Concert for New York City. After Entwistle's death in June 2002, both Daltrey and Townshend decided to continue with an already planned tour as the Who. Bass player Pino Palladino was chosen to fill Entwistle's place. The band also completed a brief tour in 2004. In 2006, they released their first studio album of new material in twenty-four years, Endless Wire, leading some fans and critics to say that the highly acclaimed artistic tension within the Who lay between the two principals Daltrey and Townshend. The band completed a world tour in 2006–07 to support this album.
In February 2010, Townshend and Daltrey, headlining as the Who, performed the half-time show at Super Bowl XLIV in front of 105.97 million viewers across the globe. In March 2010, Townshend and Daltrey, along with an extensive backing band, performed Quadrophenia at the Royal Albert Hall in London as a tenth anniversary charity benefit for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam sang the part of the Godfather, and Tom Meighan of Kasabian sang the part of Aceface, and Tom Norris, London Symphony Orchestra Co-Principal Second Violin, played violin for the production.
Daltrey's songs for the Who
Daltrey contributed a handful of songs to the band's catalogue during their early career:
- "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere" (1965) – The Who's second single, co-written with Townshend.
- "See My Way" (1966) – Daltrey's contribution to A Quick One.
- "Early Morning Cold Taxi" (1968) – Outtake from The Who Sell Out (later appearing as a bonus track on deluxe editions), co-written with David "Cyrano" Langston.
- "Here for More" (1970) – B-side to "The Seeker".
Daltrey also wrote a song titled "Crossroads Now" for the Who which grew out of an onstage jam session in 1999 after the song "My Generation." Another Daltrey song, entitled "Certified Rose", was rehearsed by the Who shortly before the death of John Entwistle. The band had planned on playing it (as well as Townshend's "Real Good Looking Boy") during their 2002 tour, but plans were halted after Entwistle's death. Although it was rumoured that a studio version was recorded during the Endless Wire sessions (and may have featured Entwistle's basslines from 2002), Townshend later stated that no such recording was made. A more recent recording of "Certified Rose" was finally released on Daltrey's 2018 album As Long As I Have You. While this version of the song was released as a Daltrey track, it features Townshend on guitar. "Early Morning Cold Taxi", is a song recorded during The Who Sell Out's recording sessions in 1967, and was released in 1994 on the Thirty Years of Maximum R&B box set, which is credited to Roger Daltrey and Who roadie Dave "Cyrano" Langston. Some sources report that the song was solely written by Langston. At the time Daltrey and Langston were planning to form a writing partnership, in which all songs written by either of them would be credited as Daltrey/Langston. The partnership produced only one other song—an unreleased demo titled "Blue Caravan." Langston went on to play guitar on John Entwistle's debut solo album, Smash Your Head Against the Wall, in 1971.
Daltrey has released eight solo studio albums. The first was the self-titled Daltrey in 1973, the album was recorded during a hiatus time in the Who's touring schedule. The best-selling single from the album, "Giving It All Away", peaked at No. 5 in the UK and the album, which introduced Leo Sayer as a songwriter, made the Top 50 in the United States. The inner sleeve photography showed a trompe-l'œil in reference to the Narcissus myth, as Daltrey's reflection in the water differs from his real appearance. He also released a single in 1973, "Thinking" with "There is Love" as the B-side. The British release, with considerable airplay of "Giving It All Away" (first lines "I paid all my dues so I picked up my shoes, I got up and walked away") coincided with news reports of the Who being sued for unpaid damage to their hotel on a recent tour, including a TV set being thrown out of the window.
Daltrey's second solo album, Ride a Rock Horse, was released in 1975, and is his second most commercially successful solo album. Its cover was photographed by Daltrey's cousin Graham Hughes, which is remarkable for depicting the singer as a rampant centaur.
When Sayer launched his own career as a solo artist, Daltrey called on a widening group of friends to write for and perform on his albums. Paul McCartney contributed the new song "Giddy" to One of the Boys, where the band included Hank Marvin, Alvin Lee, and Mick Ronson. On this album cover, another visual trick is played with Daltrey's mirror image, with reference to René Magritte's famous painting Not to be Reproduced.
McVicar was billed as a soundtrack album for the film of the same name, in which Daltrey starred and also co-produced. It featured all the other members of the Who at the time (Townshend, Entwistle, and Kenney Jones). McVicar included two hit singles, "Free Me", and "Without Your Love", which is Daltrey's best-selling solo recording.
On release, Parting Should Be Painless received negative critical reviews, and was Daltrey's poorest selling studio album up to that point. The album was a concerted effort on Daltrey's part to vent his frustrations in the wake of the Who's breakup by assembling a set of roughly autobiographical songs. These included a track contributed by Bryan Ferry ("Going Strong"), and one contributed by Eurythmics ("Somebody Told Me"). Musically, according to Daltrey the album covered areas that he had wanted the Who to pursue.
The title track to Under a Raging Moon was a tribute to the former Who drummer Keith Moon, who died in 1978, at the premature age of 32. On his next album Rocks in the Head, Daltrey's voice ranges from a powerful bluesy growl à la Howlin' Wolf to the tender vocals shared with his daughter Willow on the ballad "Everything a Heart Could Ever Want". This was his first major effort as a songwriter for his own solo career.
In 1992, Daltrey appeared in the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, singing the hard rock Queen song "I Want It All", to pay homage to his friend Freddie Mercury, who died the previous year one day after a public announcement that he suffered from AIDS.
Daltrey celebrated his 50th birthday in 1994 by performing at Carnegie Hall in two shows (23 and 24 February), later issued on CD and video called A Celebration: The Music of Pete Townshend and The Who, sometimes called Daltrey Sings Townshend, accompanied by the Juilliard Orchestra, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, Irish dancers and other special guests. The success of these two shows led to a US tour by the same name, featuring Pete Townshend's brother Simon on lead guitar with Phil Spalding taking bass duties for the first half of each show, and John Entwistle playing for the second half. An Australian leg was considered but eventually scrapped.
Daltrey took on a number of other solo projects, including a tour with the British Rock Symphony in 1998, and the Night of the Proms in 2005. Daltrey also worked with the Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp, raising money for many charities during the final concert. In 2005, Daltrey had a short weekly series on BBC Radio 2, presenting a personal choice of rock 'n' roll favourites.
Daltrey embarked on a solo tour of the US and Canada on 10 October 2009, officially called the "Use It or Lose It" tour with a new touring band he called "No Plan B" on the Alan Titchmarsh Show. The band included Simon Townshend on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Frank Simes on lead guitar, Jon Button on bass guitar, Loren Gold on keyboards, and Scott Devours on drums. Eddie Vedder made a guest appearance at the Seattle show on 12 October. In 2010, Daltrey and No Plan B appeared for several dates with Eric Clapton, including Summerfest at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The band also scheduled additional dates in 2010 without Clapton.
In 2011, the band performed the rock opera Tommy and other songs at a warm-up show in Bournemouth at the O2 Academy 19 March in preparation for a show scheduled at the Royal Albert Hall to benefit the Teenage Cancer Trust on 24 March. Pete Townshend played and sang as a guest at the TCT show. Later in 2011, the band scheduled the "Tommy Reborn" tour of the UK and Europe, followed by a tour of the US and Canada. Additional dates were booked in Europe and Australia for 2012. Downloads from the tour were made available through the Internet.
As of 2013[update], Daltrey is talking about making a new solo album because "the Who don't do enough gigs for me. If I stop singing at the age I am now, my voice will be gone within two years. So I've got to keep it going. It's like a car engine you've got to keep running."
In 2015, Daltrey recorded a cover version of Pete Townshend's song "Let My Love Open the Door" for Teen Cancer America adverts. In February 2016, a full version was released, with all of the proceeds going to TCA.
On 15 March 2018 Daltrey announced the forthcoming release, on 1 June, of his new solo studio album As Long as I Have You, produced by Dave Eringa, his first one in 26 years. He appeared on BBC One's The Graham Norton Show, on 13 April 2018, to promote the single taken from the album.
On 27 March 2018 a Who Facebook post announced that Daltrey plus members of The Who band should appear as guest artists for one of the Bayside Summer Nights in San Diego, California on August 15, 2018, performing some Who hits, Who rarities and some solo hits.
Non-Who songs written by Daltrey
Daltrey first co-wrote songs for his solo albums beginning with 1977's One of the Boys, including "The Prisoner", "Satin and Lace" and "Doing It All Again." On his 1985 solo album, Under a Raging Moon, Daltrey is credited as co-writer on four songs. On the 1987 solo album, Can't Wait to See the Movie, Daltrey is credited as co-writer of the tracks "Balance on Wires" and "Take Me Home." On 1992's Rocks in the Head, Daltrey is credited (along with Gerard McMahon) for co-writing seven of its eleven tracks. For his 2005 compilation album Moonlighting: The Anthology, Daltrey co-wrote the song "A Second Out" with Steve McEwan, which featured Daltrey's vocals backed by McEwan on acoustic guitar. Daltrey's songwriting for other projects has included the 1975 soundtrack for Lisztomania. He also co-wrote "Child O Mine" with Gerard McMahon, which featured on the soundtrack for The Banger Sisters, and on the TV show Witchblade.
An avid fan of Premier League football club Arsenal F.C., in 2006 Daltrey wrote and performed a specially commissioned song, "Highbury Highs", for the Highbury Farewell ceremony following the final football match on 7 May at Highbury, with Arsenal playing Wigan Athletic. Daltrey's performance was part of Arsenal's celebration of the previous 93 years at Highbury, as the club prepared for their move to the Emirates Stadium, the following season.
Collaborations with other artists
In 1984, Daltrey appeared on "Bad Attitude", the title track of an album by Meat Loaf, sharing the lead vocal. In the same year, Daltrey provided backing vocals on Barry Gibb's song "Fine Line". The following year, he appeared in Barbra Streisand's music video for her single "Emotion", playing Streisand's emotionally uninterested husband.
On 20 April 1992, Daltrey appeared as one of the featured guest singers at the Freddie Mercury Tribute at Wembley Stadium singing Queen's "I Want it All" with the opening of "Pinball Wizard" --- Also backing Queen on this track was Black Sabbath's lead guitarist Tony Iommi --- which made a historic Band that Included Queen/the Who/Sabbath for the first time ever.
In 1992, he appeared on the Chieftains' Grammy Award-winning album, An Irish Evening: Live at the Grand Opera House. He also released an album with the Boys Choir of Harlem in 1998 with selections from A Christmas Carol. Also in 1998, Daltrey performed two songs with the Jim Byrnes Blues Band at the Los Angeles Highlander Convention. He borrowed a guitar to play for the songs, after reassuring the owner that he would not break it. Daltrey taught the then-15-year-old Drake Bell how to play the guitar in 2001, after starring together in Chasing Destiny. Bell later starred in Drake & Josh and has released three studio albums.
In 2001, Daltrey provided backing vocals for the title track of the Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros album Global a Go-Go. In 2003, he provided backing vocals for thrash-metal band Anthrax on the song "Taking the Music Back" from their ninth album We've Come for You All. The collaboration came about through Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian's girlfriend, Pearl Aday, daughter of Meat Loaf, whose mother was a friend of Daltrey and his wife.
In 2005, Daltrey collaborated with English pop band McFly to sing his hit song "My Generation". Also in 2005, Daltrey joined B.B. King to record Never Make Your Move Too Soon for King's 80th birthday album, B.B. King & Friends: 80.
On 14 and 15 December 2007, he appeared with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York and Izod Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey, performing "Behind Blue Eyes", "Pinball Wizard" and "See Me, Feel Me."
On 12 January 2009, Daltrey headlined a one-off concert along with Babyshambles at the O2 Academy Bristol for Teenage Cancer Trust. On 5 July 2009, he joined the Jam's lead singer, Paul Weller on stage at Hop Farm Festival in Kent for an encore of "Magic Bus". In 2011, Daltrey recorded a duet on the song "Ma seule amour" with French singer and composer Laurent Voulzy for his album Lys and Love.
In 2011, Daltrey, along with Steven Tyler and Roger Taylor, joined the advisory board of Edge Music Network. The company is innovative in their approach to connecting fans and their favourite bands.
In November 2014, while staying at the Mar Hall Hotel in Bishopton, Renfrewshire – ahead of the Who's gig at The SSE Hydro – Daltrey joined the band Milestone for an impromptu rendition of "I Can't Explain". The band were playing at a wedding reception in the hotel.
Rock persona and legacy
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When Colin Dawson left the Detours, Daltrey took over as their lead singer, giving up his guitar. The band as a whole acknowledged Entwistle and Moon's innovation and talent on their instruments, and Pete Townshend had begun writing their hit songs, but Daltrey struggled to find a voice to present their new music. His expression carried Townshend's material well enough in recordings, and at the time his live persona suited the small club scene where the Who made their beginnings. However, this presentation lacked the confidence of later years, and he was arguably still a singer seeking a voice.
The Who first toured North America in 1967, appearing at the Monterey Pop Festival, and Daltrey brought back new experiences in dealing with larger venues and stages. 1968 proved to be a pivotal year with Townshend's movement beyond the quick three-minute single towards his goal of writing a rock opera. Beginning with "A Quick One, While He's Away", a nine-minute mini-opera, Daltrey's performance in the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus showed him with a new confidence in dealing with Townshend's material. In 1969, the Who's first major rock opera Tommy was released, and Daltrey found a voice for the lead character that carried the Who to worldwide stardom at such music venues as Woodstock and the Isle of Wight Festival, and in opera houses around the world during the next two years. Townshend later remarked in the film Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who, that with Tommy, and with Daltrey's adaptation to portraying the character on-stage, the singer evolved from what was essentially a tight, tough guy to one who outstretched his arms, bared his body to the audiences, and began to truly engage them. "With this change, the band was at last complete", he summed up. "It was a marriage", Townshend emphasised, "but it was a good marriage. Those were glorious years". Daltrey confirmed this, saying, he felt at last accepted, displaying a newly energetic role and sound during live performances.
Daltrey has long been known as one of the most charismatic of rock's frontmen. According to Pete Townshend, "He almost invented the pseudo-messianic role taken up later by Jim Morrison and Robert Plant." His persona has earned him a position as one of the "gods of rock and roll" He developed a trademark move of swinging and throwing his microphone through a complex sequence, matching these sequences with the tempo of the song that was being played at the moment, although Daltrey reduced the athleticism of his performances in later years.
Daltrey hand-built his first guitar from a piece of plywood, and also built guitars for the band in the early days when they had little money to buy equipment. As lead guitarist for the Detours, Daltrey played a 1961 Epiphone Wilshire solidbody electric guitar which he later sold to Pete Townshend on an easy payment plan. After he took over vocals for the band in the 1960s, and during the 1970s, Daltrey rarely played guitar on stage; however, he played a Martin acoustic guitar for appearances to promote his solo album Daltrey. He began playing guitar with the Who again during the band's tours in the 1980s, and used a Fender Esquire to play a second guitar part for the song "Eminence Front" on the Who's 1982, 1989 and later tours. During the 1989 tour, he played a Gibson Chet Atkins SST guitar for the song "Hey Joe". During the Who's 1996–97 Quadrophenia tour, Daltrey played a Gibson J-200 acoustic guitar.
After 1999, it became more common for Daltrey to play guitar during both the Who and solo shows. He played a Versoul Buxom 6 handmade acoustic guitar on the Who's 2002 tour. Daltrey owns a Gibson Everly Brothers Flattop acoustic guitar which he played on the Who and solo tours in the late first decade of the 21st century. On his 2009 tour, Daltrey played Pete Townshend's "Blue, Red and Grey" on an Ashbury cutaway tenor EQ ukulele.
Daltrey is among those who first brought the harmonica into popular music. Although the mouth harps that Daltrey uses have varied over the years, brands he has used include Hohner and Lee Oskar harmonicas. Daltrey plays using the blues harp (2nd position) or cross harp technique which originated in blues music.
Daltrey uses Shure microphones with cords that are taped to reinforce the connection and avoid cutting his hands when he swings and catches the microphone. He commonly uses a standard Shure SM58, but has also used Shure SM78 (in 1981), Shure model 565D Unisphere 1, and Shure model 548 Unidyne IV. Daltrey also uses a hybrid monitoring system with one in-ear monitor supplemented by floor wedges.
After the Who retired from active work in 1983, Daltrey developed his career in film and on the theatre stage. Daltrey's appearances in over 30 feature films include early starring roles in Tommy, as "deaf, dumb and blind boy" Tommy Walker in 1975; Lisztomania, as Hungarian composer Franz Liszt in 1975; "The Legacy", a horror film in which he played Clive Jackson in 1979, and McVicar, as British armed-robber-turned-journalist John McVicar in 1980. Through the 1980s and 1990s, he appeared in various musicals and dramas, including The Beggar's Opera, The Comedy of Errors, The Little Match Girl, Mack the Knife and Buddy's Song.
In 1992, Daltrey appeared as the voice of Barnaby in The Real Story of Happy Birthday to You, a Canadian children's animation TV special along with American actor and voice actor Ed Asner. In 2001, he starred in the film Chasing Destiny, where he gave actor Drake Bell his initial guitar lessons. In 2003, he starred as the voice of Argon the Dragon Bus Driver in the award-winning children's DVD called The Wheels on the Bus: Mango and Papaya's Animal Adventure from Armstrong Moving Pictures. The DVD featured Daltrey as a costumed children's dragon, who drove a bus for two lost puppets trying to return to their home at the zoo. Daltrey provided the vocals for children's classics, such as "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round", in addition to songs written specifically for the home video. He later appeared in two other videos for this series.
In addition to his career as an actor, Daltrey has been producer on several films, including: Buddy's Song (1990), McVicar (1980), Quadrophenia (1979), and an untitled Keith Moon film project in development.
Daltrey has played a number of television roles, including BBC Television Shakespeare as both Dromios in The Comedy of Errors, the police drama series The Bill, the science fiction series Sliders as Col. Angus Rickman, the VH1 series Strange Frequency 2, Witchblade as the devil, and was a recurring guest star in Highlander: The Series as Immortal Hugh Fitzcairn, one of the closest friends of lead character Duncan MacLeod. In 1983, he played Macheath, the outlaw hero of BBC TV's production of John Gay's 1728 ballad opera, The Beggar's Opera.
In 1986, Daltrey appeared in the TV series Buddy. In 1993, he guest-starred (along with Steve Buscemi) in an episode of Tales From the Crypt entitled "Forever Ambergris". Daltrey appeared as an alien assassin villain, Tez, in a 1996 episode of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. He also played Nobby Clegg, a character named after the band Nobby Clegg and the Civilians, in the Showtime series Rude Awakening.
Daltrey took part in an episode of the animated series The Simpsons, "A Tale of Two Springfields", providing the voice for himself, along with John Entwistle (Pete Townshend's voice was supplied by his brother Paul). In this episode, The Who helped Homer break down a wall he had built through the town of Springfield.
A self-described history buff, Daltrey often involves himself in history research related media including television documentaries. Pirate Tales from 1997, is a documentary/action show about the Golden Age of Piracy in the 18th century, in which Daltrey impersonated English buccaneer William Dampier in a main role as the narrator throughout the series. In 2003, he hosted the History Channel's Extreme History with Roger Daltrey talking about historical events and explaining the survival techniques the civilisations treated had available. He also appeared in "That '70s Musical", the 100th episode of That '70s Show as Fez's musical director.
Daltrey guest-starred in an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation during season 7 (episode 9, "Living Legend", originating in 2006) as Mickey Dunn, a former Las Vegas 1970s gangster who returns to Las Vegas to avenge his attempted murder. The Who's music, and Daltrey's singing, provide the themes for CSI and all other offshoots:
- "Who Are You" for the original show
- "Won't Get Fooled Again" for CSI: Miami
- "Baba O'Riley" for CSI: NY
- "I Can See for Miles" for CSI: Cyber
In 2005, Daltrey made a cameo appearance as himself in the episode "The Priest and the Beast" in Series 2 of The Mighty Boosh. He is found by the main characters vacuuming a desert, presumably as a "karmic" consequence of leaving Woodstock early and not helping to clean up. Also in 2005, he played the part of loblolly boy in the TV drama Trafalgar Surgeon.
Besides acting, Daltrey has performed on the soundtrack of a number of films and television shows, most notably CSI. He also appeared in the music video for "Emotion" by Barbra Streisand, although neither he nor the Who were the featured act.
Daltrey has appeared in stage in productions including Mike Batt's The Hunting of the Snark in 1987 as the Barrister, and also in Batt's Philharmania with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1998. He appeared in The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True in 1995 as the Tin Man. Also in 1995, he starred in a three part Bert Coules BBC radio dramatisation of the Mutiny on the Bounty novels of Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, and in 1996 he starred in a BBC Radio 2 production of Jesus Christ Superstar as Judas. In 1998, Daltrey played the part of Scrooge in the Radio City Music Hall production of A Christmas Carol in New York City. In 2003, he starred as Alfred P. Doolittle in a production of My Fair Lady at the Hollywood Bowl alongside John Lithgow and Melissa Errico.
Daltrey has acted in advertisements, television shows, and films, and maintains an extensive filmography. A sampling of his films and TV roles follows:
|McVicar||1980||John McVicar||also producer|
|The Beggar's Opera||1983||Macheath||BBC musical production|
|The Comedy of Errors||1983||The Dromios||TV film|
|Murder: Ultimate Grounds for Divorce||1984||Roger Cunningham||film|
|Buddy||1986||Terry Clark||TV series|
|The Hunting of the Snark||1987||The Barrister||concert appearance|
|The Little Match Girl||1987||Jeb Macklin||musical film|
|Crossbow||1987||Francois Arconciel/François Arconciel||TV series|
|How to Be Cool||1988||Himself||TV series|
|Mack the Knife||1990||Street singer||musical film|
|Forgotten Prisoners: The Amnesty Files||1990||Howard||TV film|
|Cold Justice||1989||Keith Gibson||film|
|Buddy's Song||1991||Terry Clark||film, also music score composer, producer|
|Midnight Caller||1991||Danny Bingham||TV series|
|If Looks Could Kill – Teen Agent||1991||Blade||film|
|The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert||1992||Himself||concert performance|
|The Real Story of Happy Birthday to You||1992||Barnaby (voice)||short|
|Tales from the Crypt||1993||Dalton Scott||TV series|
|Highlander||1993–98||Hugh Fitzcairn||TV series|
|Lightning Jack||1994||John T. Coles||film|
|A Celebration: The Music of Pete Townshend and The Who||1994||Himself||concert performance|
|The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True||1995||Tin Man||concert performance|
|Bad English I: Tales of a Son of a Brit||1995||film|
|Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman||1996||Tez||TV series|
|Sliders||1997||Col. Angus Rickman||TV series|
|Pirate Tales||1997||William Dampier||TV mini-series|
|Like It Is||1998||Kelvin||film|
|The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns||1999||King Boric||TV film|
|Rude Awakening||1999–2000||Nobby Clegg||TV series|
|The Bill||1999||Larry Moore||TV series|
|Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula||2000||King Janos||TV film|
|The Young Messiah – Messiah XXI||2000||Himself||concert performance|
|The Simpsons (episode "A Tale of Two Springfields")||2000||Himself, as The Who||TV series|
|Strange Frequency 2||2001||Host/devil||TV series|
|Chasing Destiny||2001||Nehemiah Peoples||film|
|Witchblade||2001||Father Del Toro/Madame Sesostris||TV series|
|.com for Murder||2002||Ben||film|
|That '70s Show||2002||Mr. Wilkinson||TV series|
|The Wheels on the Bus||2003||Argon the dragon||children's DVD|
|Trafalgar Battle Surgeon||2005||Loblolly Boy||TV film|
|The Mighty Boosh||2005||Himself||TV series, Series 2 episode 2 'The Priest and the Beast'|
|Johnny Was||2006||Jimmy Nolan||film|
|CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||2006||Mickey Dunn||TV series|
|The Last Detective||2007||Mick Keating||TV series|
|Once Upon a Time||2012||Caterpillar||TV series (uncredited)|
|Pawn Stars||2013||Himself||1 Episode|
Daltrey contributed to a collection of childhood fishing stories published in 1996 entitled I Remember: Reflections on Fishing in Childhood. In 2009, he contributed a foreword to Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of The Who 1958–1978 by Andrew Neill and Matt Kent. In 2011, he wrote a tribute article in honour of the late Ken Russell which was published in Britain's Daily Express.
Other business ventures
Honours and awards
In 1976, Daltrey was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for "Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture" for his starring role in the film version of the Who's rock opera Tommy. He also performed as a guest on the Chieftains' recording of Irish Evening: Live at the Grand Opera House which won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album in 1993. With the Who, Daltrey received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001 for outstanding artistic significance in music.
In 1990, Daltrey was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio as a member of the Who. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame also included three songs that Daltrey recorded with the Who on the list of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll, including: "My Generation", "Go to the Mirror!", and "Baba O'Riley". In 2005, Daltrey received a British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors Gold Badge Award for special and lasting contributions to the British entertainment industry.
In 2003, Daltrey was honoured by Time magazine as a European Hero for his work with the Teenage Cancer Trust and other charities. In the New Year's Honours List published on 31 December 2004, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to Music, the Entertainment Industry and Charity.
As a member of the Who, Daltrey was inducted in 2005 into the UK Music Hall of Fame. In December 2008, he and Pete Townshend were honoured with America's most prestigious cultural awards as recipients of the 31st annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C. by then-President of the United States, George W. Bush. On 4 March 2009, three days after his 65th birthday, Daltrey accepted the James Joyce Award from the Literary and Historical Society of University College Dublin for outstanding success in the music field. On 12 March 2011, he received the Steiger Award (Germany) for excellence in music. Daltrey and Pete Townshend received the Classic Album Award for Quadrophenia from the Classic Rock Roll of Honour Awards at the Roundhouse, 9 November 2011, in London.
Daltrey has supported many charities both as a solo artist, and jointly with other members of the Who. In 1976, he performed at the Celtic Football Ground in Glasgow. An audience of 35,000 attended and a sum of over £100,000 was donated to charity. He sang a cover version of Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" for a charity single released as McEnroe & Cash with the Full Metal Rackets for Rock Aid Armenia in 1986, and performed with the Who at Concert for Kampuchea in 1979, and Live Aid in 1985.
Daltrey appeared in The Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True in 1995 for the Children's Defense Fund, and at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert to benefit AIDS research in 1992. Daltrey's 1994 Celebration raised funds to support Babies and Children's Hospital in New York City, as well.
With the Who, he performed for the Robin Hood Foundation at the Concert for New York City, and other benefits in 2001; at Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit in 1999; and in the Quadrophenia Concert for the Prince's Trust in Hyde Park, 1996. In addition, Daltrey performed at benefits in Vail, Colorado, in 1999, and attended a PETA benefit with Sarah McLachlan, and Chrissie Hynde in the same year.
All of the Who's Encore Series profits go to young people's charities. Daltrey was instrumental in starting the Teenage Cancer Trust concert series in 2000, with the Who actually playing in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2007, and 2010, and Daltrey playing solo in 2011, and in 2015 as the Who. The annual concerts have raised over £20 million. He has endorsed the Whodlums, a Who tribute band which raise money for the Trust. Daltrey played benefit gigs with the RD Crusaders in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008; performed with the Who at Live 8 in 2005, for the Nordoff-Robbins Silver Clef benefit in 2005, and for the Los Angeles area City of Hope benefit in 2001, and 2004. The Who played with special guest Michael J. Fox at the 2008 "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson's" benefit.
Daltrey performed at the first ChildLine Rocks concert at London's the O2 on 13 March 2008. In 2009, Daltrey was a judge for the 8th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists. In the same year, he appeared again on stage with Michael J. Fox for the "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cure Parkinson's" benefit. In April 2010, he headlined the Imagine A Cure II show honouring the legacy of John Lennon, which raised money for the Puget Sound Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer charity. In 2011, Daltrey became a patron of the Children's Respite Trust for children with disabilities.
In 2011, Daltrey, Steven Tyler, and Julie Andrews provided funding for Robert S. Langer's research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology into vocal cord repair for victims of cancer and other disorders. On 4 November 2011, Daltrey and Pete Townshend launched the Daltrey/Townshend Teen and Young Adult Cancer Programme at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, to be funded by the Who's charity Who Cares?. The launch, followed on 5 November by a fund-raising event, was also attended by Robert Plant, and Dave Grohl. Daltrey also announced that a portion of ticket sales from his solo tours would go to fund the teen cancer centres. In 2012, he offered his support to a project helping unemployed young people in Heathfield, run by Tomorrow's People Trust.
Daltrey has been married twice. In 1964, he married Jacqueline "Jackie" Rickman, and later that year they welcomed their son Simon; they divorced in 1968. In 1967, another son, Mathias, arrived as the result of his affair with Swedish model Elisabeth Aronsson. In 1968, he met Heather Taylor, an American who is his current wife. They married in 1971, and had three children: Rosie Lea (born in 1972), Willow Amber (born in 1975), and Jamie (born in 1981). As well as his five children, he has ten grandchildren.
In 1970, Daltrey publicly supported The National Campaign for Freedom of Information, saying "I come from a working-class background and I am proud of it and I intend to fight for the workers' right to know. We all need to know what goes on behind the scenes that is causing this country's economic mess. When we have a Freedom of Information Act in this country we shall have restored our Right to Know the Truth and that will bring sanity to our tax laws."
In 1978, during the recording of the Who's album Who Are You, Daltrey had throat surgery to remove nodules after an infection. During a solo tour in 2009, Daltrey began finding it harder to reach the high notes. In December 2010, he was diagnosed with vocal cord dysplasia, and consulted Dr. Steven M. Zeitels, Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Voice Center and professor at Harvard Medical School. Zeitels performed laser surgery to remove the possibly pre-cancerous growth. Both surgeries were considered successful. As dysplasia recurs Daltrey has regular checks to monitor his condition. Daltrey has an allergy to cannabis that affects his singing voice; when second-hand marijuana smoke from an audience has impacted his performance, he has been known to pause the concert to request that people not smoke it. Daltrey has never tried hard drugs.
Daltrey bought a home in Los Angeles in the early-2000s. Daltrey also owns a house in Sturminster Newton, which appeared on Grand Designs.[episode needed] Daltrey is a supporter of Arsenal F.C. He supports Britain leaving the European Union and is a supporter of the Conservative Party.
He garnered some controversy in the rock press in 2017 when he stated that "a dead dog could have won it against" Hillary Clinton in the 2016 United States Presidential Elections  and again in 2018 when he criticized the Me Too movement, saying "I find this whole thing so obnoxious. It’s always allegations and it’s just salacious crap."
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Roger Daltrey.|
- Official website
- Roger Daltrey at AllMusic
- Roger Daltrey discography at Discogs
- Roger Daltrey on IMDb