MWE3 Archive Feature Story
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An interview with Roger Daltrey
of The Who

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of the interview

The triumphant performance of The Who at the October 20th Concert For New York at Madison Sq. Garden was a sheer musical revelation. Driven in spirit by Beatles legend Sir Paul McCartney, under quite somber circumstances, the nearly six hour Concert For New York spotlighted appearances by Sir Paulís new quartet (featuring guitarist Rusty Anderson, drummer Abe Loboriel Jr. and keyboardist Gabe Dixon), The Who, Mick Jagger & Keith Richard, Eric Clapton & Buddy Guy, Billy Joel, Elton John, David Bowie as well as a host of other rock legends and notable up and coming groups. The short but to-the-point set from Who founders Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle (assisted by Zak Starkey on drums and John "Rabbit" Bundrick on keyboards) was clearly one of the highpoints of the heartbreaking, yet crucial benefit concert for the victims of the September 11th tragedy. Fueling the hopeful speculation of long time Who buffs, Roger Daltrey, the groupís original founding member and dynamic lead vocalist verifies, in this interview, that The Who are aiming towards recording their long awaited studio album comeback. Amazing to think itís been over 18 years since the last new Who studio disc, 1982ís Itís Hard. Despite that fact, now two years into their now five decade spanning legacy, The Who remain one of the ever essential pop & rock bands of the 20th Century - perhaps second only to The Beatles for the sheer impact theyíve had on the development of modern pop culture. When The Beatles broke up, taking that fateful walk across the Abbey Road in 1969, it was up to The Who to carry on the tradition of English rock and roll. And carry on they did throughout the Ď70s with trendsetting studio albums like Whoís Next (1971), Quadrophenia (1973), The Who By Numbers (1975) and the original bandís final album together with the late, great madcap percussion genius Keith Moon, Who Are You? (1978). With a little luck and alot of determination, the time will come once again for The Who to flex their musical muscles and minds, if only to again show everyone just how omnipotent rock and roll as an art form can be. Gearing up for the October 20th benefit at the Garden, Roger Daltrey took time out of his busy schedule to speak with MWE3.COM reviews editor Robert Silverstein. Among the topics touched upon during the interview were the new Who live DVD, Live At The Royal Albert Hall, the 2001 reissue of the groupís classic 1970 live album Live At Leeds and of course, forecasts for the first Who studio album in nearly 20 years. The following interview took place by phone on October 10th, 2001 3PM Eastern Standard time.

Roger Daltrey (RD)
Robert Silverstein (RS)

Roger Daltrey (RD): Hi Robert. How are you?

Robert Silverstein (RS): Roger! Itís a real honor to speak with you. Back in Ď65 when I was 11, one of my proudest possessions was The Whoís Decca single of "I Canít Explain". I was one of your earliest teenybopper fans here in New York.

RD: Oh fantastic. Wow. For an eleven year old thatís pretty amazing!

RS: And ever since then Iíve been a huge Who fan. I just want to start by saying, seeing The Who on stage at the Concert For NY Fundraiser in Madison Sq. Garden on Oct 20th will surely give a sense of spirit and strength to those whoíll be there as well as the millions tuning in show. How did The Who come to get involved in the October 20th Concert For New York at the Garden?

RD: We were asked to do it by Harvey Weinstein and you canít say no. I mean, itís as simple as that. I mean those people gave their lives. The least we could do is give our time. Itís as simple as that. Weíre all in this together. Weíve all got to pull together on this. And weíve got to get on with life. Weíve got to learn to laugh again. Weíve got to learn to enjoy ourselves again, otherwise, these lunatics out there - because thereís no compromise with these people - have won.

RS: Theyíre telling us to carry on with our usual activities otherwise the terrorists win.

RD: Well you have got to. I mean, we have had terrorism in England for a long time, as you know, with the Irish problem. So you do get used to living with it. I mean itís never been on the scale that you have it there. But thatís more by luck (and a series of alot of events) than anything else. But I mean we lived with bombs for thirty years, and people being blown up on the street. But you do get used to it. And you do learn to live your life through it. And obviously every life lost is a complete tragedy, in whatever conflict, but youíve got to get on with life. Life is very precious. Itís there to be lived to the max. You pull yourself back, and get there.

RS: On a lighter note, Iíve been playing the new double disc Who DVD Live At The Royal Albert Hall just out on Image Entertainment. The sound and video are simply stunning and the sound is so tight itís almost like The Who never broke up...

RD: We didnít break up! We just stopped touring. And we did stop touring. You have to remember the touring that we stopped was non-stop on the road and we just had enough of it. And we didnít tour for eight years and (then) we did a kind of reunion tour. Yíknow Pete kind of mooted that heíd left the band, but I donít think spiritually heíd ever left it.

RS: Was that the first time The Who played The Albert Hall?

RD: Oh no we played many, many times.

RS: The Royal Albert Hall DVD features The Who as a five piece with Rabbit on keyboards and Ringoís son Zak Starkey on drums. Zakís playing is great and it sounds very Keith Moon inspired.

RD: Well it is. Moon was Zakís tutor. Ringo gave Zak his first drum kit, then unfortunately they were going through a nasty divorce. Moon was a really good friend of the family and actually taught Zak to bang the skins. To turn the drum sticks around and use the fat end! (laughter)

RS: Is Zak a member of The Who now?

RD: Well we just love him as a person considering what heís been through in his life. Extraordinary, imagine what being the son of a Beatle is. Iíve got the utmost respect for him as a musician and as a human being. Fantastic guy.

RS: The Royal Albert Hall DVD features a great balance of early, middle and later period Who songs. With so many great songs to choose from, how did you select the tunes that ended up on the new DVD?

RD: Itís the biggest problem we get with The Who. Yíknow everybody says, we want a new album, we want a new album, which we are going to try and produce, but we still got the problem that we canít play what everybody wants to hear at one of our shows at the moment. So you kind of just pick the ones that you think will make a really good performance, you go through a few obscure ones for the real Who fans and you keep the popular ones in there for people that have never seen The Who before. Itís kind of a juggling act. You canít please all the people all the time. You do your best.

RS: It was also great to see new revivals of "The Relay" and "Letís See Action" on the new DVD. Wasnít "The Relay" part of Pete Townsendís original Lifehouse concept?

RD: Yes.

RS: Looking back on the song what do you think Pete was expressing in "The Relay"?

RD: Talking about what a songís trying to say is like talking about art (laughter). Yíknow, I think itís in the eye of the beholder and the ear of the listener. (You hear) one line, and so many people will get two completely different things from it. So I donít like to talk about those things.

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Special thanks to Sujata Murthy at UMG and Spencer Savage at Image Entertainment. Exclusive Who black and white photographs courtesy Stewart Hellman, are from his new photograph book of The Who entitled Classic Performances Of The Who. To order the book contact:  or visit 

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