Roger Daltrey
The Who's iconic frontman on a lifetime in the fast lane...

The guide to surviving a life in music, by those who know best...

Roger Daltrey, golden-voiced frontman of The Who, on protecting your rights and protecting your ears...

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COMMITMENT IS EVERYTHING
Without the drive to do it, you will never make it in this business. We were post- war kids, we had nothing; we had the arses hanging out of our trousers. So if you wanted something like a guitar, you just made it - with no knowledge of how to make one. If you’re desperate enough, you do it.

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MAKE SURE YOU CAN DELIVER
It stopped me singing when I did [speed], and all I wanted to be was a good singer. And the reason I wanted to be a good singer was because [I knew] what it was like to be in an audience having worked all week, paying to come and see somebody perform. That was a big deal for the audience, and I wanted make sure I could be there for them, because otherwise it’s a fucking insult.

I had to make the decision very early on, ‘You can’t do this, Rog. You wanna be a singer? This is gonna take discipline.’

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CONNECT EFFECTIVELY
It’s not only to do with the sound - it’s to do with the vibration of the word that’s being sung: whether I’m communicating that and the feeling of it. If [a song is] about pain, I want it to sound like it’s transmitting the feeling of this painful thing that I’m singing about.

It’s more about the vibration. I know when it’s right. I know when the melody is right, and the emotion, and the words are being transmitted to the best possible way they can.

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DEVELOP THROUGH TOURING
Playing live is everything. When we first played ‘Tommy’ live, the growth of the musicality of the band, and the experimentation and all that, that’s what led to ‘Who’s Next’ and ‘Quadrophenia’, and that writing period of Pete’s is extraordinary; it’s like five years and it’s like an explosion.

It was really exciting to be in. But equally, some of the periods of time off when Pete was writing - which he needed to do - it made it hard for the band. Especially for people like Keith Moon. You take drumsticks away from a drummer and he can’t drum, what does he do with his energy? Well, he found other ways!

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GET HONEST AND APPRECIATIVE MANAGEMENT
A good manager is someone that really cares about their artist and is not gonna rip them off. The Who’s first managers were on a completely different agenda to us.

We just wanted to be a group and be successful and make music and do what we did, and they had these big visions of filmmaking, a record company, and all this. Which we thought was 40% ours, but actually we never, ever saw a penny. It was an absolute joke.

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PROTECT YOUR EARS
These people playing at the volumes that some of them play at are just heading down a spiral into deafness that we now have, because we made all those mistakes. They don’t need to do it nowadays, and you will play better with the modern kit.

There is only one issue with the in-ear monitor things: that it can make singers a little bit lazy about protection. I think that’s why we’ve got so many clever singers singing out of their nose and doing wobbly notes but forgetting to punch the audience between the eyes.

I’ve got a really loud voice, but that’s developed because I had to fight to get it out there.

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Thanks A Lot Mr Kibblewhite: My Story by Roger Daltrey (Blink Publishing) is out now, also as an ebook and audiobook.

Words: Simon Harper

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