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Topic: 'We'll go on until we drop dead' (NSC) Return to archive
07-07-03 01:19 AM
VoodooChileInWOnderl Even that I didn't like the Stones reference here I like the article, and LOL the photo footer is for Roger Taylor Queen's drummer and some other mistakes...

'We'll go on until we drop dead'

(Filed: 07/07/2003)

After Pete Townshend's arrest and John Entwistle's death, the Who's Roger Daltrey tells Michael Shelden why he's still raging against authority

It's been almost 40 years since Roger Daltrey first shouted and snarled and famously stammered his way through the Who's classic rock anthem My Generation, defiantly declaring: "Hope I die before I get old".

Unstoppable: Roger Taylor

Though band member Keith Moon seemed to take the lyric to heart - dying in a blaze of excess, 25 years ago - Daltrey is now on the verge of 60 and is still going strong, his voice almost unchanged and youthful rage still bubbling near the surface.

Indeed, it explodes in full force when we meet backstage at the Hollywood Bowl, where he has been rehearsing for a solo appearance. Blue eyes bulging, he bounces angrily in his chair, pounds the table and says in a voice rising with emotion: "Not many people think for themselves now. They're like wallpaper.

"Well, they'd better wake up and think about what happened to Pete, because that wasn't the end of anything. It was the beginning of a witch-hunt and nobody's safe."

He is referring, of course, to the recent troubles of the Who's lead guitarist and principal songwriter, Pete Townshend, whom police investigated earlier this year for allegedly downloading child pornography from the internet.

After an exhaustive search of his computers, he was cautioned and put on the Sex Offenders' Register for five years.

For months, Daltrey has been seething over his friend's treatment by the authorities, but he has refrained from lashing out at them. Until now. The trigger for his rage on this sunny day in California seems to be Townshend's own music, which he has just been singing in rehearsal. When I arrive at the Hollywood Bowl, I hear his voice on the loudspeakers. He is launching into the haunting lyrics from Townshend's rock opera about an abused boy, Tommy - "See me, feel me, touch me, heal me" - Daltrey's voice sounding like a raspy angel's.

"The thing is, Pete's a genius. He's given the world some of the best music it's ever heard. He didn't deserve to be treated like a criminal because that's the last thing he is. I've been singing his songs all these years, and I'm in awe of them. They're brilliant, and anyone who loves his music should stand up and show some support for Pete.

"There was a huge breach of his civil liberties, and I don't think we should sit back and watch that kind of thing happen without fighting it. If this was the Sixties, more people would see this witch-hunt for what it is and start a protest. It's not just about Pete. It's about having some control over our lives and not letting the police do whatever they want."

According to Daltrey, 14 computers were removed from Townshend's home in Richmond and examined with "military precision". The fact that nothing incriminating was discovered on the machines after months of investigation makes Daltrey livid.

"What are we becoming? The fucking Taliban? Pete's an artist and may have been naive, but he did nothing wrong and told the truth from the start. But he was treated as though he was guilty of the worst crimes and crucified without a trial by people with no accountability. It's a fucking disgrace. Everything they did to him was appalling."

Daltrey is convinced that his old friend was innocently surfing the net and simply wandered by accident into a website containing some illegal images.

After "stumbling" into the site, Townshend admits that he used a credit card to access its pages, but only because he was "conducting research" for a longstanding project on child abuse.

"It's absolutely true," Daltrey insists. "If he had told a pack of lies, they wouldn't have come after him. But he didn't hide anything and paid a price for being honest. He has a long history of working to help abused people, and has spent a lot of time thinking about the problem. That's just a fact. But nobody wanted to listen to his explanation, and now - too late - they find he's guilty of doing nothing."

With passionate intensity, he leans across the table in his dressing-room and tells me: "You have to understand, Pete is a Lennon character. Just like John, he's a creative artist who wears his heart on his sleeve and draws his own boundaries. The Establishment didn't like John for doing that, and now they want to get Pete."

For most of their lives, Daltrey and Townshend have been at war with authority and, not infrequently, with each other. They used to have enormous rows as they fought over their music and control of the band. Roger often found release for his quick temper by using Pete as a punchbag, landing some fierce blows on his friend's rather prominent nose. Their view of each other is not rose-coloured, but they have always closed ranks against outsiders, especially those who - in the opening words of My Generation - "try to put us down".

As teenagers, they took delight in being rebels against the quiet conformity of postwar Britain, railing against their elders for enforcing a strict morality that felt suffocating to them.

"When we said: 'Hope I die before I get old', what we meant is that we didn't want to end up like the old people back then. It was about keeping your mind young and free. I thought that, as a society, we were making some progress, but now I don't know. The old strict morality seems to be making a comeback."

He still vividly remembers a pivotal encounter with a teacher who embodied everything he hated in the older generation. He was only 14 and had seen Elvis perform on television and was full of enthusiasm, telling friends that playing rock music was just the job for him. But when he went to a teacher and asked his opinion of the American rocker, he was told, with smug condescension, that Elvis was "disgusting".

"That was one of my teachers at Acton Grammar School, and I guess he was only about 30 at the time. But his attitude was old. He was already dead as far as I was concerned. I hated him and everything he stood for. He and his kind were just training people for a life with a briefcase. Give me Elvis any day, I thought to myself. At least he's free."

A year later, at 15, Daltrey was expelled from school and soon joined a band called the Detours, with his friends Pete Townshend and John Entwistle.

"We were the kind of guys who stood out in a crowd. We always looked a bit different from the other people around us, and I think we were drawn to each other because of that. It was a natural chemistry for us, and the music was great. I never looked back."

After the group became the Who, with Keith Moon playing drums, the four kindred spirits took every opportunity to rattle the older generation, making the Beatles and the Rolling Stones look tame with their wild antics, ending their concerts with deafening outbursts of random noise and destroying their instruments in onstage fits of mayhem.

Daltrey laughs gleefully when he recalls how much they shocked the audiences of the time. "People didn't know what to make of us. We went to America and they put us on the same tour as Herman's Hermits. Can you believe it? We would come out and play this hard-driving stuff and people would look at us in amazement and say: 'Where the f--- is all this noise coming from?' It was the time of the Vietnam War, yet they were shocked when we just exploded in front of them, breaking guitars and throwing stuff. It was like a little war right in their faces."

Such craziness couldn't last long. The group lost its way in the Seventies and the days of one hit record following another came to an end. In 1978, Keith Moon died of a drink and drug overdose and, for a time, Daltrey wondered whether the Who could continue without him.

"Keith was an amazing drummer who was so inventive that he rarely played anything the same way twice. But what I loved about him, and what a lot of people don't know, is that he was one of the funniest men in England. He used to hang out with the Monty Python gang, and Graham Chapman once told me that Keith was funnier than any one of them. He was real-life Monty Python." But the Who managed to survive the loss of their drummer and continued to record and give concerts for much of the past 20 years, with mixed success. Where the group goes from here is uncertain, given not only Townshend's troubles, but the fact that another member died last year.

Daltrey says that he wasn't surprised when the news of John Entwistle's death reached him.

"John hadn't looked healthy for a long time. I'm a big believer in alternative medicine and healthy living, and I can tell when someone looks ill. I saw it in John's pallor and his eyes. He lived hard and he took risks. Whenever I saw him in the last few years, I always made a habit of giving him a big hug before I left him. I was never sure I'd see him again."

The fact that Entwistle died in the arms of at least one stripper in his Las Vegas hotel room is something that makes his old friend smile. Daltrey regards it as a perfectly appropriate exit for a Sixties rebel.

"Ask any man what he would prefer - to live to a ripe old age and die alone or to go out shagging your balls off with strippers in Vegas?" He laughs, and shouts: "Come on, let's be honest. It's not a death that any man should be ashamed of."

The wonder is not that Keith and John are gone, but that the two most important - and most volatile - members of the Who are still kicking. Daltrey vows that he and Pete will soon reunite in the studio and record a new album, then tour once again.

But will they perform as the Who?

"Of course. We're not going to give up now. As long as Pete's there on guitar, and I'm there to sing the lead, you're going to have the Who. The sound is still there. And in my opinion, Pete's getting better as the years go by. Nothing is going to stop us, not the government or the press or anybody. We're going to keep playing until we drop dead."

Which, in Daltrey's case, seems very unlikely any time soon. He was always the most robustly healthy member of the group, and he has aged well. Married with four children, he has also enjoyed a relatively ordinary domestic life and is in no danger of being tempted by various evils on the internet. He doesn't even own a computer.

A big-hearted man with simple tastes, he has mellowed a little with age, giving a lot of his time to his favourite charity - the Teenage Cancer Trust. Over the past few years, he has managed to raise more than £2.5 million for the cause, largely through benefit concerts and CD sales.

The trust helps to provide special hospital units for teenagers with cancer, allowing them to give each other support and to receive special attention for their needs.

"Without teenagers, the music business wouldn't exist. I've done well in this business, so I think I need to give something back, and this is a great cause that's starting to make big waves. It's changing the way that teenagers are treated when they get cancer. They aren't children and they aren't adults. They are stuck in the middle and can be overlooked if we don't pay them the attention they deserve."

Another sure sign of mellowness is Daltrey's new respect for his working-class parents, both of whom are now dead. In a rare moment of soft reflection, he leans back and speaks almost wistfully of his mother and father and their struggles, and decides that it may be time to let a few ghosts fade away.

"They weren't responsible for the things we fought against. They weren't part of the Establishment. But I used to ridicule them for accepting the life that was given to them. I wanted them to fight back, like me. But now I see that my dad and mum had all the fight taken out of them by the war. My dad had enough excitement on the beaches at D-Day. That was enough for a lifetime. I understand that now."

He pauses and looks at me as though he wants to convey his regrets to somebody, then shrugs and admits: "I feel the need to apologise to them." At a loss for a response, I ask why.

"I don't know. I just do. But I think I know what my dad would say."

He closes his eyes and laughs. "He'd say: 'Don't worry, son. You did well'."
07-07-03 02:09 AM
Prodigal Son Damn right. Roger tells it like it is.
07-07-03 08:45 PM
Joey Thanks Voodoo !!!!!

I loved reading this .

Joey !
07-07-03 09:23 PM
Gimme Shelter Right on!!!! That article made my day.
07-08-03 08:16 AM
TomL Great reading. Thanks VD.

Toronto will be mayhem, hope all the girls get naked )
07-08-03 09:25 AM
Joey Voodoo ..................................

You are much loved by the Joey !

07-08-03 10:18 AM
jb Did not enjoy the article...the Who has not existed since the death of Keith Moon...and to carry on another farewell tour is beyond appalling...the Stones get slagged for being too old, yet the Who(one of my top 3 bands of all time) seem to get treated with kid gloves, despite their shameless "last tour" plugs since the 80's ......Also, I love Pete, but does anybody else have doubts about his story? Poor Joey!!!
[Edited by jb]
07-08-03 11:09 AM
Joey " Did not enjoy the article...the Who has not existed since the death of Keith Moon...and to carry on another farewell tour is beyond appalling... "

Josh ...........................You make Joey very sad .

You obviously have not been to a WHO Concert recently ....................Please go next time and you will fall in love again with the Petey just like me .

Just ask Jaxx -- she was there -- she will back me up .

" Soothe Me with the Slang of Ages Ronnie "

Jacky !
07-08-03 11:21 AM
jb I went to their supposedly last N.American concert ever a few years ago when they performed the "Quadraphenia" set at the Coral Sky Amphitheatre n/k/a the "Sound Advice" amphitheatre in West palm Beach, Florida. Great show and little Zak Starkey is about the best drummer since one C. Watts....but enoght is enough my goysish friend.
07-08-03 02:28 PM
Joey " Great show and little Zak Starkey is about the best drummer since one C. Watts."

I would like to nuzzle you .

"....but enoght( Sic ) is enough my goysish friend. "

Ahhhhhh , but THAT is where you are wrong ol' ye of the Cedar Plates ...............Townshend is playing the electric guitar these days better than Hendrix EVER did and I's got's the boots to proves it ....................but I digress ..........................Shiver .

I don't seem to remember " goysish " in my Judiasm training session that afternoon ....................was that BEFORE or AFTER the Winnebago part ???? Hmmmmmmmmm ?

Oh , and by the way , in case you wanted to know :

Bar = Boy

Bat = Girl

Steelie = Howe

" Screened at a Festival in Utah Ronnie "

07-08-03 02:30 PM
jb Goyim=one who pays retail prices ...
07-08-03 02:54 PM
Joey " Goyim=one who pays retail prices ... "

Does that mean I should stop buying my suits " Off the Rack " ?????????????????????????????????

Shiver .................

Developing ..............

J. Kins !
07-08-03 09:12 PM
jb wrote:
Did not enjoy the article...the Who has not existed since the death of Keith Moon...and to carry on another farewell tour is beyond appalling...the Stones get slagged for being too old, yet the Who(one of my top 3 bands of all time) seem to get treated with kid gloves, despite their shameless "last tour" plugs since the 80's ......Also, I love Pete, but does anybody else have doubts about his story? Poor Joey!!!
[Edited by jb]

You are loved by Maxy!

The Who are a shams sham!


Josh, I will now take back that post about me wanting to sleep with your wife.

Unless you want me to.....

Do you have a camcorder and a bucket of prawns?

Are prawns Kosher?

Not where I'm putting them...

Waaaa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!

Max Lugarsteinbergfinklehymen!

07-08-03 09:48 PM
sirmoonie Hey that was a good read, thanks Voodie!

Smokin' and drinkin'! Have you exercised your rights today?

The WHO!

The Petey!

07-08-03 09:57 PM
Maxlugar Hey Moonie, are you drinkin' again?

At least we have the Stones to agree about right? I know you like the Who and stouffs but we love the Stones right?

They are the common bond.






MACKY! oops, did that one already....


07-08-03 10:09 PM
sirmoonie Maxy!

We have the Stones!

And lots and lots of hootch!

And hot chicks crawling all over us!

"We lay them out on Sundays, Ronnie!"
07-08-03 11:08 PM
corgi37 How can the Who be the Who? Sure, our old Stoneys have had some changes, but more than half the band is around. Surely the cut off point to call yourself the same band is way over 50%. The Who died when Moon did. They should now call themselves Daltry & Towneshend or something. I adore the real Who. Who's Next would have to be about the best ever non-stones album, but then again, they released Face Dances, which is my vote for worst ever record released by a major band. And, fancy getting rid of the terrific simon Phillips in (I guess) The Who Mk 3, for Ringos kid. 1 thing I can say about it all, Towneshend is a man of his word. He vowed never to return to Oz in 1968, and the fucker has kept his promise.
07-08-03 11:47 PM
corgi37 wrote:
He vowed never to return to Oz in 1968, and the fucker has kept his promise.

Why was this? What's the story?
07-09-03 08:59 AM
Joey " You are loved by Maxy!

The Who are a shams sham!


WTF ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

I thought you loved your WHO DVD ? Hell , I STILL suffer through the Jeff Beck " Starter Kit ( Space for the Papa ) every once and awhile ...................................

You make Joey very sad .


Ninea !
07-09-03 05:52 PM
I thought you loved your WHO DVD ? Hell , I STILL suffer through the Jeff Beck " Starter Kit ( Space for the Papa ) every once and awhile ...................................

I do love my DVD! Thanks!!

What do you mean you 'suffer' through the incredible Jeff Beck stater Kit(s) I made you???

You make Maxy weep and shit liquid!!!

J. R. R. Tolkmax!
07-09-03 06:06 PM
Joey ****************** NEW MATERIAL ALERT *****************************************

" You make Maxy weep and shit liquid!!! "

****************************** NEW MATERIAL ALERT *****************************************

Thanks Max .

07-09-03 06:11 PM
Sir Stonesalot Corgi....Ringo's "kid", Zack, happens to be a fucking DYNAMO on the skins.

I know, I know, I wouldn't have thought it either. But I fucking SAW it, I HEARD it, and I FELT it. Zac Starkey is a really great drummer. In fact, he is the guy who DRIVES the Who.

You can see it in Pete. Every time you'd think Pete was going to slow down and relax...Zac hit a little harder, and Pete started playing like a madman again. And then Roger would get caught up in it...and man oh man, it is a sight to see.

I am really glad that I made the effort to see them last summer. They were fantastic...under very trying circumstances.
07-09-03 08:26 PM
Joey " I am really glad that I made the effort to see them last summer. They were fantastic...under very trying circumstances. "

Stoney , I would like to clutch you to my bosom and tickle you with my erect nipples whilst I weep profusely and shit liquid .

-- Thank You

The Jacky ( Established 1999 and providing quality posts like this and many others every single friggin day of the week ) .