Roger Daltrey celebrates his birthday today. The legendary The Who frontman was born on March 1, 1944 in London’s East Acton district. Twenty years later, Roger co-founded The Who with guitarist Pete Townshend and bassist John Entwistle. The three musicians originally played in a band called The Detours which would evolve into The Who with drummer Keith Moon joining soon after to round out the classic lineup. The Who were part of the so-called “British Invasion” but would go on to become one of the most influential rock bands of all time.
The band had their first hit with “I Can’t Explain” and followed with a string of singles including “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere” (a Daltrey co-write with Townshend) and one of their signature songs, “My Generation.” But The Who was destined to become a band that embraced the album format rather than just grouping singles together on a record and were pioneers of the rock opera. Their first would be the groundbreaking 1969 work, Tommy. With the success of Tommy, Townshend began working on a new rock opera with the title, Lifehouse.
But as with many bands on the cutting edge, management was wary about the rock opera and the Lifehouse project evolved into another landmark album for the band, 1971’s Who’s Next, which included the timeless classics “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Baba O’Riley,” and “Behind Blue Eyes” among others. Released in August 1971, the legendary album turns 50 years this year.
Two years later during a tour hiatus for The Who in 1973, Daltrey launched his solo career with a self-titled debut album. Daltrey would return to his solo career in the ensuing years, especially when the future of the band was in flux after Moon tragically died in 1978. Daltrey released a solo album called Under A Raging Moon in 1985, with the title track a tribute to the legendary drummer.
But throughout his solo years, Daltrey always performed Who material, especially that of Who’s Next as it contains some of the band’s most well-known songs. Yet Roger didn’t shy away from the deeper tracks either and over the years has performed every song from Who’s Next with the titular band or in a solo format. To celebrate Roger’s birthday, JamBase takes a look at live performances of each track from Who’s Next via the JamBase Live Video Archive.
In May 1978, The Who performed from the famed Shepperton Studios in the UK in front of an audience of bands which, as a protopunk band, they heavily influenced like The Pretenders, The Sex Pistols and more. The performance includes the song’s signature synthesizer — which The Who were innovators of — and sees Roger and Pete trading lead vocals as well as Daltrey performing the studio version’s violin on the harmonica as he did in live settings.
In November of 2000 as The Who were getting back to touring and recording in earnest, the band performed at the historic Royal Albert Hall. The core three of Daltrey, Townshend and Entwistle played along with drummer Zak Starkey, Ringo Starr’s son, and keyboardist John Bundrick. “Bargain” is one of Daltrey’s finest vocal performances and he shows off his pipes on the chorus.
In December 1982, The Who performed a show in Toronto that was billed as their last. About three-quarters of the way through the set Daltrey introduced Who’s Next deep track “Love Ain’t For Keeping” saying “now for one we brought back a few days ago.”
The Who performed “My Wife” during a concert in the late fall of 1979 just a year after Moon’s death with Kenney Jones stepping in on drums. Entwistle wrote “My Wife,” the only song on Who’s Next not written by Townshend, and Daltrey backs up the legendary bass player as he sings lead on the tune.
The 1990s saw The Who regrouping and in 1994 Roger Daltrey gave a pair of solo performances in February at the historic Carnegie Hal in New York City backed by a full orchestra. Daltrey delivers a characteristically powerful performance on “The Song Is Over.”
In September 2000, The Who stopped in West Palm Beach, Florida. About halfway through the set the band offered up “Getting In Tune” which shows off Daltrey’s range, from the poignant intro to the rocking conclusion.
In November 2009, Daltrey delivered a two-night stand at the Borgata in Atlantic City. The set included “Going Mobile,” a Who’s Next song on which Pete Townshend sang lead on the album. In A.C., the band included Pete’s younger brother Simon Townshend, who sang lead with Roger adding harmonica.
In November 1982, The Who gave two performances at New York City’s legendary Shea Stadium which were turned into a concert film. The performance of the classic “Behind Blue Eyes” sees Daltrey showing off his range once again as well as his signature microphone swinging.
In 1975, The Who kicked off the American leg of their tour with a concert in Houston. The band concluded their set with the magnum opus, “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” While Roger gives every performance all he’s got, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” always showed off the frontman’s full range of showmanship and includes perhaps the greatest rock and roll scream of all time.