Though his new memoir, Thanks A Lot Mr. Kibblewhite: My Story, is a best-seller in his homeland — top 5 on the London Sunday Times hardback non-fiction chart — The Who’s Roger Daltrey understands it hasn’t satisfied everybody.
“There’s a lot of Who fans who are disappointed in it, ’cause I haven’t written a book about the Who, really,” Daltrey tells Billboard. “It’s about me and how I felt about times in the Who, but it’s generally about my life. I wanted to convey to the reader just what it feels like to be a singer in a band like the Who through those times, those incredibly fast-moving, social changing times with enormous struggles but with enormous triumphs.” And he offers no apologies to those who might have wanted something else.
“I didn’t want to do the usual rock book ’cause I find them boring,” Daltrey says. “Talking about music is like listening to paintings. It’s like listening to a portrait gallery. I don’t read anything anybody writes about me, and I haven’t done for a long time. I really don’t give a shit. They can write whatever they like. I just live to my code that I believe in and I’m true to that and I don’t care if people say, ‘Oh, that’s good’ or ‘Oh, that’s bad.’ I can only be me, so I don’t watch anything I do or never listen to anything I do or read anything I do. If anyone writes anything about me, I’ve never, ever read it.”
As he continues to promote Kibblewhite, Daltrey is also making plans for the new year. He and Pete Townshend determinedly put the Who aside during 2018 to focus on their own projects, and Daltrey says the two are “discussing” possible work as the Who, but the singer acknowledges that’s a tricky proposition 54 years after “My Generation.” “It’s just, ‘What do we do next?'” Daltrey explains. “It’s really, really difficult. I’m 75 next year; I just feel like doing something different, but I don’t know what. So there you go.”
Daltrey was, of course, “pleased” with his 2018 activities, which included the solo album As Long As I Have You and orchestra performances of Tommy, with new arrangements by David Campbell. He’s hoping to release a live album from the shows during the spring and may even do some more dates with the show this year to commemorate the rock opera’s 50th anniversary. “I’m absolutely astonished at how good it is,” notes Daltrey, who incorporated most of the Who’s touring lineup into the show. “It’s not like the Lou Reizner all-stars (an orchestral presentation in 1972). It’s not like the Who’s original version of it. It’s got all the balls of the Who’s original version of it, but it’s got all these wonderful bits of orchestration underneath it that make it triumphant. It’s just magical.” It also has Daltrey thinking about trying to do the same with the Who’s other major rock opera, Quadrophenia.
“I’d like to experiment with what (Campbell) would do with Quadrophenia,” says Daltrey, adding that he’s never seen or heard Classic Quadrophenia, which was orchestrated by Townshend’s wife Rachel Fuller for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. “There’s something about adding (Campbell) to the mix of what Pete’s already done, which is how we did Tommy, that makes something very special. I can’t explain why it works; On Tommy it definitely did, so I’d be interested to see what would happen with Quadrophenia. I might be disappointed, but I don’t think so.”
Also still on Daltrey’s docket — a film biography of the Who’s late drummer Keith Moon, which he’s been pursuing for the better part of three decades. “It’s so difficult because biopics generally don’t work,” Daltrey says. “The only one I’ve seen that really works was the one on Brian Wilson (2014’s Love & Mercy), where they used two different actors. I loved that one because it had the balls to be a movie, and I want to make a movie, not just a biopic.”
One thing the Who probably won’t be doing is anything related to 50th anniversary of the Woodstock festival, where the group performed back in 1969. The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts on the original Woodstock site is planning a series of events for the weekend of Aug. 16-18, while festival co-founder Michael Lang and his Woodstock Ventures have voiced plans to put on a large-scale event at another location.
“August in America is too hot for me to work anymore,” says Daltrey, who played Tommy at Bethel Woods last June. But he also argues that, “You can’t redo Woodstock because the stars of Woodstock were the audience. You can celebrate the date, but you can’t redo (the festival). Nobody’s approached us about it, anyway, but I really wouldn’t be interested in something like that.”