Happy Birthday to Roger Daltrey, who turns 74 today (March 1st). Daltrey is hitting the road this summer and once again touring behind the Who‘s 1969 rock opera, Tommy. Daltrey, who has a handful of hits-based shows on the books throughout March, begins the Tommy tour on June 8th in Bethel, New York at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts and wraps the dozen show run a month later on July 8th at Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio’s Blossom Music Center. In addition to his band, Daltrey will be backed at every stop by a local orchestra.
As usual, the tour features Daltrey backed by his regular solo musicians, No Plan B — which is now comprised of nearly all of the Who’s official touring band — minus Pete Townshend. The band features keyboardist and Who musical director Frank Simes on lead guitar and Scott Devours — who drummed for the Who during their recent Quadrophenia And More tour handling drum duties instead of Zak Starkey. Rounding out the solo band is Simon Townshend — Pete Townshend’s kid brother and longtime Who and Daltrey sideman. Also on board is bassist Jon Button and keyboardists Loren Gold and John Corey.
Coming on April 20th will be the first official release of the Who’s legendary 1968 performance at New York’s Fillmore East. The Who At The Fillmore East 1968 will be officially issued as a double CD and two-record set, featuring tracks recorded during the band’s second night of the stand on April 6th, 1968 — only two days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in Memphis.
Over the past decade, Roger Daltrey has worked tirelessly to raise money and awareness for the Who’s patron charity, the Teenage Cancer Trust. Daltrey told us he’s doing all he can to socialize teen cancer patients, who respond far better to being with others their own age during treatment than being stuck on a kids’ ward, or with full-grown adults: [“I went to Yale when we first started this off. In Yale there were three boys that had Leukemia and they were all in three different rooms, and not one of them knew that the next boy next to them had the same disease, was sittin’ with his parents, all worried to death. Not one of them met each other and none of the parents had met each other. I mean, I just think that’s criminal.”] SOUNDCUE (:22 OC: . . . think that’s criminal)
Back in 2015 the Who were forced to postpone their shows after it was announced that Roger Daltrey was stricken with viral meningitis. Daltrey spoke about getting sick and the terror of not knowing the cause, telling Yahoo News, “I kept getting these strange twinges and headaches, and they got worse and worse and worse. In the end, I was basically on my hands and knees. I was in hospital for a week and they couldn’t find out what was wrong with me. They did bone marrow scans and I had about four spinal taps. . . There were a couple of days there when I didn’t think I was going to make it.”
He went on to say: “I was shocked when they told me what it was. They immediately sent the anti-virals going and God knows how many antibiotics and how much cortisone. It’s big guns — not pleasant at all. The whole time I was in there, pretty much all I could do was lay there and groan. It’s a weird one and there’s an awful long recovery process, too.”
Since recovering, Roger Daltrey has covered Pete Townshend’s 1980 solo hit “Let My Love Open The Door” to draw attention to the Who’s charity, Teenage Cancer America (TCA). A new solo album is currently in the works for later this year — with contributions from Townshend.
- In 2014, Daltrey released his first non-Who related solo album in 22 years, with Going Back Home, his joint album with former Dr. Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson in which they revisit Johnson’s back catalogue. The pair struck up a friendship back in 2010 — prior to Johnson’s January 2013 diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer. Daltrey is donating his proceeds from the album to the Teenage Cancer Trust.
- Over the past seven years, Daltrey has reignited his solo live career performing the Who’s Tommy along with assorted Who and solo classics. The Who’s recent dates caught Daltrey singing better than ever after undergoing throat surgery in recent years.
- Roger Daltrey’s tour-de-force lead vocal on Quadrophenia‘s finale “Love Reign O’er Me” is one of dozens of examples of him taking a Pete Townshend song and completely reinventing it as his own: [“That’s what I used to try and do is to leave people with a mood in a note, and a passion in the song. That in somehow or the other, either went against the lyric, or took the lyric to somewhere where you didn’t think. . . It’s like ‘Love Reign O’er Me’ for instance. Pete never, ever saw that as a loud screaming plea, the way I sang it. He saw it as a quiet song — which obviously you can do. In the terms of the way Quadrophenia was, I saw it as that scream of desperation from the street. He didn’t like it. He didn’t like what I did with it (laughs) probably still doesn’t!”] SOUNDCUE (:31 OC: . . . probably still doesn’t)
- Pete Townshend admits that it’s been tough throughout the years for Daltrey to have to bide his time until he’s finished the next song cycle for a new Who project: [“This was very frustrating for Roger, who is a fantastic singer of my material. The greatest interpreter that a writer could ever, ever want. Y’know he’s a fantastic performer, singer, and brings stuff to my work that I can’t bring to it myself. Certainly I’ve never heard any other singer bring it to it.”] SOUNDCUE (:17 OC: . . . it to it)
- Townshend says that after five decades of working with Daltrey, he’s only recently found the proper way to present his new material to him: [“And Roger just said to me several times, ‘Y’know, I’ll support you in whatever you want to do, let’s take some real chances.’ And I kind of stamped around the room saying, ‘Well that’s all very well in words but when it actually comes to it and I deliver him my big ideas, he doesn’t want to get behind them, or he doesn’t do this or do that . . .’ And then actually when it came to it, I realized (that) as long as the work I was delivering him was finished, he would simply make the choice of an editor or a performer.”] SOUNDCUE (:25 OC: . . . or a performer)
- Daltrey told us that his relationship with longtime sideman — and kid brother of Pete Townshend — Simon Townshend is so tight, that he actually considers him to be family. Simon, who’s 15 years younger than Pete, has been a constant in the Who’s live shows since 2002, has backed Daltrey on the road for years.
- Daltrey explains that his connection with Simon goes far deeper than just being bandmates: [“I’ve always had a close relationship with Simon since he was a little boy. He was Pete’s brother, and he used to be ’round my house all the time. He was a real Who fan. And he’s been in my band since — well, every time I’ve had a solo band, he’s been in it. And I actually call him my brother (laughs). It’s totally unconditional, I mean, he’s great vibes. I mean, he knows the music so well.”] SOUNDCUE (:22 OC: . . . music so well)
- Simon Townshend admits that he’s been close to Daltrey ever since he was a boy: [“I always loved Roger. Roger was the one I could run up to and cuddle. I couldn’t run up and cuddle Moonie, I couldn’t run up and cuddle Pete, I couldn’t run up and cuddle John (Entwistle), but I could run up and cuddle Roger. He’s a dear friend, really, Rog.”] SOUNDCUE (:13 OC: . . . friend really Rog)
Roger Daltrey tour dates (subject to change):
March 7, 10 – Las Vegas, NV – Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
March 13 – Stockton, CA – Bob Hope Theatre
March 15 – Oakland, CA – Fox Theatre
March 22 – London, England – Teenage Cancer Trust at Royal Albert Hall
June 8 – Bethel, NY – Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (with The Hudson Valley Philharmonic Orchestra)
June 10, 12 – Vienna, VA – Wolf Trap Center for Performing Arts (with The Wolf Trap Orchestra)
June 15 – Lenox, MA – Tanglewood (with The Boston Pops)
June 17 – Queens, NY – Forest Hills Stadium (with The New York Pops Orchestra)
June 19 – Philadelphia, PA – Mann Center for the Performing Arts (with The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia)
June 23, 25 – Highland Park, IL – Ravinia Festival (with The Ravinia Festival Orchestra)
June 27 – Nashville, TN – Ascend Amphitheater (with The Nashville Symphony Orchestra)
June 30 – Canandaigua, NY – CMAC (orchestra TBA)
July 2 – Dayton, OH – Fraze Pavilion (with The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra)
July 5 – Rochester Hills, MI – Meadow Brook Amphitheater (with The Detroit Symphony Orchestra)
July 8 – Cuyahoga Falls, OH – Blossom Music Center (with The Cleveland Orchestra)