In a 2016 Rolling Stone interview Daltrey mentioned he was working on his biography. He said there was no publishing deal, so he could take as long as he liked, and only publish if he liked it. Pretty much sums up how he likes to live life.
To me Daltrey has always seemed edgy, a bit of a hard nut and most definitely not one to mince his words. Generally, the book doesn’t disappoint. A few scores are settled, some stories put straight and we get Rog’s worldview as he sees it. There’s also plenty of humour – a story about a “cut and shut” Aston Martin had me laughing out loud.
Some of Daltrey’s perspectives aren’t that surprising – like many others in their senior years (he’s now 75) he looks back longingly at the simpler times gone by, professing not to understand the modern world demands for instant gratification, although his nostalgia seems undiminished by the poverty of his upbringing. Content and comfortable with his lot now, it’s done little to take the edge off him. Witness his description of Kenney Jones drumming – and he regards Kenney as a mate!
Daltrey is driven and uncompromising. Generally, not a recipe for longevity in a rock band. And yet he made it work. He was smart enough to see that Townshend was the creative genius that the band needed to take them to the very top, and as undesirable as some of their personal qualities were, Entwistle and Moon were the other elements needed to make it happen. He says more than once that he was all in – he had nothing else going.
He doesn’t shy from describing the downsides of working with such dysfunctional band mates – Townsend’s lack of focus, cushioned by his publishing income, Moon’s desperate need for attention. Few surprises here although Daltrey’s reference to Entwistle’s “nasty” nature were new to me. Overall, it reads as if Daltrey put up with it all because he knew it was better than the alternative – something that it’s far from clear that the others understood.
In many respects Daltrey sees himself as the outsider. Bright enough to pass the 11 plus, but alienated from his new “posh” schoolmates, he saw education as a punishment and only grasps later in life it was something he could have taken much more from. He also becomes exile in the band – fired and then grudgingly re-admitted – on probation – after laying Moon out to finish an argument about drugs. Two years of niggling windups follow, Daltrey determined not to give them the satisfaction of resolving it with his fists. All of that said looking back Daltrey sums it up “something that gets missed in all the war stories about The Who …. we respected each other”.
A few things remain unremarked upon; his CBE award in 2005, The Who’s induction to the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, his album with Wilko Johnson. But beyond these details, it’s a comprehensive story, told with energy and humour.
Still, a bit surprised at the book title though – ought to have been “I Can Explain” surely?
Length of Read:Medium
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
One thing you’ve learned
Daltrey isn’t a fan of “Live At Leeds”- he couldn’t hear himself sing and thinks that Live At Hull is much better.