The Industry

Roger Rabbits

21st February 2017

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The Who front man Roger Daltrey is a bona fide Rock God – and a huge supporter of BIMM. On a recent visit, he spoke to first year Music Journalism student Jules Pestano.

Tell us about your relationship with BIMM?

Every time I visit one of the schools it’s always been a really fun time. It’s great to see all those young enthusiastic faces entering this kind of very precarious but incredibly rewarding business. And I just hope that the majority of them do well. If they give it their best shot, you never know. Even the ones that think they’re going to be managers or those who end up as guitar techs or roadies, they will be in the business

As part of your work with Teenage Cancer Trust you organise a big concert every year in the Royal Albert Hall. Tell us about that.

When we started we had six very small spaces and by 2000, we’d got six hospital wards. They were going to pull down two of the hospitals in 2000 so The Who played a show at the Albert Hall with guests such as Eddie Vedder, Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller. We did shows on two consecutive nights and we donated the total proceeds from the show, the DVD and the live album. I am determined that no one over the age of 13 should ever be in a hospital ward with children.

So what will The Who be doing at the Royal Albert Hall in March?

We’re doing two nights and we’ve got some very special guests. We’re going to do an acoustic version of Tommy – well, we’re going to try! I did Tommy for the Teenage Cancer Trust a few years ago and we rehearsed it acoustically and it really did sound amazing. It will be an interesting night, and certainly a little bit of a departure for us.

Are there any plans to do more shows?

No, I just concentrate on this one week as it’s our flagship. The press are generous to us and they always review the shows. And everyone works for free, except the roadies. Every artist does it completely for nothing. This business has been incredibly generous.

What about other charity work?

We started a charity called The Double O in 1976. It was a charity to give refuge to women that were in abusive relationships, We did a whole tour of football stadiums including Charlton and Parkhead in Glasgow. We raised a bucket load of money and gave it to charities that we thought were great ideas. One was Nordoff Robbins, which is to do with autism, teaching autistic children through music. Nordoff Robbins today is a huge worldwide charity.

How did you find your relationship with the mod movement?

We were just like every other blues band out there – long hair, beards the whole bloody scruffy lot. But there was something different about The Who especially after Keith Moon joined the band. We had a drummer that played like no other drummer and a bass player and a guitarist that played the bass and guitar like the drums. I had this enormous, incredibly loud voice, so we were always a bit different. The mathematics of our band was very different. Our manager at the time, Peter Meaden, said that we had to be mods because everybody’s into blues. There’s a message: always dare to be different. So we all walked into this barbershop as longhaired Rolling Stones lookalikes and walked out as mods. It was as simple as that. We started inventing looks. I bought a zoot suit and the guys all wore crew necked jumpers .Our music had an aggression to it, it was blokes’ music, so that’s how we came to be a mod band. We weren’t real mods, we were wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Which gigs do you remember in Brighton?

I remember at the end of 1963, we played The Hippodrome and supported people like Dusty Springfield and Gerry and the Pacemakers. We were first on the bill. We even supported the Beatles once in Blackpool. By the time it was 1964 we were starting to get on the middle of the bill, which was quite good. Then 1965 was a bonanza year for us. Our debut album, My Generation, was released with all those great singles on it, like My Generation and Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere.

Was there any rivalry between you and the other blues, mod and RnB bands in the 60s?

There was and there wasn’t, because we were all so different. When you listen to all those bands of that period like The Stones and The Beatles, they all had their sound and their style. All our styles were very different, so there was a kind of competitive spirit but it was also incredibly cohesive. We all used to mix and go to the same clubs.

 

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Jules Pestano