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The Who's Roger Daltrey: 'We're Lucky To Be Alive & Still Touring'
The legendary frontman discusses the just-announced dates for this fall's The Who Hits 50 tour.
The Who will begin its 50th anniversary -- and perhaps final -- tour later this year on home turf.
The group announced on Monday (June 30) that The Who Hits 50 trek will begin Nov. 26 at the 02 in Dublin, Ireland, and play Belfast two days later before hopping back to the U.K. for nine more shows, finishing Dec. 17 at the 02 in London. The band's official announcement promises "an Amazing Journey through their entire career from the days of the High Numbers to classic albums such as 'Who's Next,' 'Tommy,' 'Quadrophenia,' 'My Generation,' Live at Leeds' up to the present day." Guitarist Pete Townshend promises "his, picks, mixes and misses" from the group's history, while frontman Roger Daltrey says the dates are "the beginning of a long goodbye."
"We cannot keep going on doing these month after month-long, extended tours," the 70-year-old Daltrey tells Billboard. "It's extremely hard, hard work. When we take civilians, as I call them, on the road with us they usually last about 10 days and they're exhausted, just by the grind of it. So we have to be realistic. The band got better reviews on their last tour (2012-13's Quadrophenia & More) than we had for years. It was incredibly enjoyable. But it was incredibly exhausting, and we have to be realistic about our age."
In the tour announcement, Townshend noted that he's also "under no illusions" about the Who's elder statesman status in rock: "We are what we are, and extremely good at it, but we're lucky to be alive and still touring. If I had enough hairs to split I would say that, for 13 years since 1964, the Who didn't really exist, so we are really only thirty-seven." But Daltrey adds that hitting 50 is a badge of honor.
"Any band that survives like the Stones... it's extraordinary," he says. "It's remarkable that we survived at all. I know we've lost two of us (Keith Moon and John Entwistle) and the Stones lost one (Brian Jones), but it's remarkable that any of us have survived. A lot of it now is a blur. I can't remember things, (but) I can remember all of the shows. I don't know why that is, but the rest of it is like a blur."
And, the singer promises, while it may be the final tour, "it's not going to be the last things the Who will do. We're going to be doing events. We're going to be doing shows. We've always been there for charity shows; when people are in trouble and need a band for a charity show, we can do it. That's not going to change. But it won't be those long, extended tours." Daltrey says he and Townshend might also "decide to do something in a theater, some small production where we sit down for two or three weeks in one town. that could be managed, 'cause we're not schlepping our bodies around. The joy of the stage is wonderful, but the traveling every day, it's exhausting."
A North American tour is expected during 2015, and Townshend and Daltrey are reportedly working on new material, which could be finished and out even before this year's dates.
The first dates on The Who Hits 50 tour include:
Nov. 26: Dublin, Ireland (The O2)
Nov. 28: Belfast, N. Ireland (Odyssey Arena)
Nov. 30: Glasgow, U.K. (SECC)
Dec. 2: Leeds, U.K. (First Direct Arena)
Dec. 5: Nottingham, U.K. (Capital FM Arena)
Dec. 7: Birmingham, U.K. (The NIA)
Dec. 9: Newcastle, U.K. (Metro Radio Arena)
Dec. 11: Liverpool, U.K. (Echo Arena Liverpool)
Dec. 13: Manchester, U.K. (Phones 4U Arena)
Dec. 15: Cardiff, U.K. (Motorpoint Arena)
Dec. 17: London. U.K. (The O2 Arena)