Entertainment

Roger Daltrey talks new tour, thoughts on Broadway’s ‘Tommy’ and future of The Who

NEW YORK — (AP) — As Roger Daltrey hits the road on a short solo tour this June, he's unsure if fans will ever see another tour from The Who.

“I don’t see it. I don’t know whether The Who’ll ever will go out again,” he told The Associated Press over Zoom.

The 80-year-old rocker has a “use-it-or-lose it-mentality” when it comes to his singing voice, so he finds it necessary to perform as much as possible, with or without The Who.

Recently, Daltry spoke with The Associated Press on the future of the band, his solo tour and his feelings on the Broadway revival of The Who's seminal rock opera, "Tommy."

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

AP: What do you think of the “Tommy” Broadway revival?

DALTREY: I'm glad the album is still out there; it means a lot to me. It's the best opera ever written. I don't particularly like it (the musical). It's been altered and changed. I can't imagine cutting some of the music in "Madame Butterfly," or some other great operas.

AP: So, you think of it as a straight-up opera, as opposed to a rock opera?

DALTREY: It’s a fabulous opera. It was tongue and cheek at the time that we called it an opera. We did take a lot of chances with it. But since living with it and playing it on stage, and having seen lots of grand opera, I saw I had one in my hands. So, I’ve come to conclusion that it’s the best opera ever written.

AP: Tell us about the tour.

DALTREY: I’m bringing a band over from the U.K. of eight people, a very different sounding band with different instrumentation. No synthesizers. It’s just about having a lot of fun playing different songs, and obviously some Who classics. But we do them different. So it’s just something I love to do. And people seem to like it when I take it out there. So, I’m just going to put my toe in the water.

AP: So you'll play solo material and The Who stuff?

DALTREY: Having a band like this gives me an opportunity to do a lot of things that I've done over the years with different artists, like the stuff I did with Wilko Johnson 10 years ago. I will do some solo stuff, plus some covers of other people that I really admire to make a night of entertainment and fun. So many people are retiring. All the good old boys are retiring and it's very thin out there.

AP: Is getting out there in front of an audience what keeps your voice intact?

DALTREY: That's always been the impetus for me ever since I had my voice problems out. You've got to keep using it. Just like anything else in the body. You stop walking, you lose the muscles in your legs. The voice is a similar thing. If you stop using those muscles in the voice box and the vocal cords, they'll go soft on you and you'll lose your voice. Mine is remarkable for my age.

AP: Simon Townshend is performing with you — not his brother, The Who's Pete Townshend. What is it like supplementing one Townshend for another?

DALTREY: Simon Townshend is always in my solo shows. Simon has always been with me. Well, he’s a totally different guy than Pete, though he’s got very similar timber to his voice that suits my voice in the harmonies. He’s a great musician, fabulous guitarist and a great guy. You know, I’ve known him for 60 years.

AP: What’s the difference being touring with The Who and hitting the road solo?

DALTREY: It’s a lot less weight on my shoulders by myself. The Who feels like, I don’t know, heavier. It’s always much more relaxed and solo shows.

AP: There’s less pressure with a solo gig?

DALTREY: Because it’s the responsibility with The Who — there’s heritage and history to maintain that always need to be in a good light, so it puts a lot of weight on your shoulders. But with this band, I’ve discovered that I can go out there and have a good time and play any kind of music that I want.

AP: Can you give me an example?

DALTREY: I was doing some solo shows on a cruise, and I got this terrible allergy just before the first show. I ended up in hospital and didn’t know whether I’d make the cruise. But I did make the cruise. Anyway, I ended up having to do three shows back-to-back, and I’m thinking I was not able to have a sound check. I’m not going to get a rehearsal. But at least these three shows I can do. Soundchecks are very important when you’re on the road. And I thought, “I know what I’ll do, I’ll show the audience a rehearsal.” And that’s what I did. I did the show as a rehearsal and talked about what’s going on the stage, what the roadies were doing, and what everyone was doing. And they really enjoyed it. If you can get away with that, you get away with anything.

AP: With a career that began in the mid-1960s, what has been the biggest change you’ve seen over the years?

DALTREY: Age. (Laughs.) I mean, see the elders growing up with us out in the audience, but equally, we have got an enormous number of young fans, which I’m astounded by. So, it changes all the time. But obviously our audience, they’ve grown up with us, so age is the thing you notice most.

AP: Mick Jagger is on the road with the Rolling Stones at 80 years old. Will The Who ever tour again?

DALTREY: I don’t see it. I don’t, I don’t know whether The Who will ever will go out again. I don’t know. I don’t think like that. If we’ve got something to do, something which was progressive and interesting and there was a reason to do it, then we would go out. But at the moment I can’t see it.

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