When I lived in San Francisco, I briefly had a crush on a guy who LOVED The Who. Looking back at it now, I can see that my main attraction WAS his obsession for this band; the fact that he rode a scooter and had a massive Quadrophenia tattoo just added to my passing lust.
When I first started working for BIMM, I found out that one of our patrons was Roger Daltrey, the group’s lead singer. I almost died! I then saw various videos and pictures of Daltrey hanging out at BIMM, giving talks and sharing his wisdom. To say I was star struck is a total understatement. But what impressed me most about Daltrey is the way that he has parlayed his fame, talent and notoriety into helping other people.
We live in a weird time, where celebrity is everything, and stars are paid hugely to wear a brand or endorse a product. I am hard pressed at the moment to think about the last time I have seen a well- known personality really give for no reason other than simply trying to make the world a better place. It is shockingly rare that even us ordinary folk donate our time, our energy, our money to helping someone or something other than ourselves. This is what has made Daltrey’s generosity so extraordinary.
Besides being a fan of our school, he has been a long-time advocate of the Teenage Cancer Trust. His shows at the Royal Albert Hall have raised over 24 million pounds for the cause alone. This last weekend, he was on the cover of the ‘Event’ section of the Sunday paper. I eagerly read through the article and was excited to see that Daltrey has been busy putting together loads of new material. His ninth solo album, As Long as I Have You, comes out June 1st, and features loads of the singer’s favourite tunes as well as new tracks. I was thrilled to see that it is being released on vinyl, my favourite format.
Daltrey has a busy year ahead of him, as his long-awaited autobiography is also set to be released this fall. As a fan, it is great to see an iconic artist in their 70s still feeling inspired and creative, being so vibrant and engaged. I was just sitting with a friend yesterday who is staring 30 in the face and freaking out. Daltrey’s continued output, as an artist, activist and role model, really shows that age is just a number, and anything is possible at any age.
On one of my first trips to England, I made a special pilgrimage to the alleyway in Brighton featured in Quadrophenia. There is still Who-themed graffiti, proving that almost 40 years since the movie’s release and the band’s dominance over rock airwaves, Daltrey’s reach is arguably timeless. His contributions outside of the industry further illustrate the power music has to excite, unite and change our circumstances. Thank you, Mr. Daltrey for being a hero worth looking up to.