LONDON – “I hope I die before I get old,” sang the young vocalist of the band “The Who” in 1965.
Half a century later, British rock star Roger Daltrey is still on stage and he doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to get off.
“(When on stage) I shut my eyes and I’m still 21,” he laughed during an interview with Efe in London.
At 75, Daltrey still embodies the vitality and rebelliousness that made ‘The Who’ the pinnacle of musical stardom in the late 1960s.
“It’s about the energy of the music, it has nothing to do with how we look like. I don’t care if I’m in a wheelchair, it’s about what is coming out of me,” he explained.”Rock and roll is music to make love to, ‘The Who’ is music to fight to [...] if it stops fighting, I’m stopping,” he said vehemently.
After a 13-year hiatus, the two remaining members of the original quartet, Roger Daltrey and guitarist and composer Pete Townshend, return with a new album that channels the band’s original essence.
“We waited so long because we never thought we were going to do another one after ‘Endless Wire.’ Everyone still seems to want to hear the old hits, they want the nostalgia, they want to be reminded of their past [...] And I have to say it is probably the best album we’ve made since ‘Who by numbers’ if not ‘Quadrophenia’,” remarked the singer.
Recorded between London and Los Angeles during the spring and summer of this year and co-produced by Pete Townshend and American composer D. Sardy, the album contains a repertoire of 11 songs entitled ‘WHO.’
“Why try to be clever at our age,” joked Daltrey.
The songs are a fusion between the aggressiveness of old-school rock and gentler rhythms, and lack a common theme, “they are about everything... very varied,” he explained. Daltrey admitted that at first, he was “very skeptical” of the album.
“I listened to them and there were great songs but it was a Pete Townshend’s solo album.
He said he wanted it to be a ‘Who’ album,” the singer acknowledged.
After Pete’s efforts and after modifying some lyrics, the band’s frontman managed to feel comfortable with the melodies and decided to embark fully on the project.
“I very rarely listen to anything after we’ve recorded it. I listened to this album because I just wanted it to be so good. If we are going to do an album this far into our career it has to be a good one, and it is,” he said proudly.
“When we started we were stealing from everybody,” confessed Daltrey, “but we quickly realized that we had to develop our own identity.”In the heat of post-war London, young mods looked to the ‘The Who,’ as their music ”really summed up the angst of that adolescence” and, after six decades of trajectory, has left behind one of the most precious legacies in the history of music.
With a total of over 100 million albums sold, including nine Top 10 albums in the United States and ten in the United Kingdom, ‘The Who’ has earned a place on the podium of the great rock stars.
Reaching the top was not a rosy road, recalled Daltrey.
“We were inventing a multi-billion pound industry. We were being robbed left right and center. People were making millions of pounds off us and we were still poor,” explained the singer.
This new multi-million dollar industry produced a tempting cocktail of money, partying and drugs that ultimately ended the lives of two members of the group, bassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon.
Maintaining sanity in the face of such a bustle seemed insane. Even Daltrey, who is considered the most sensible of the quartet, fell into the traps of excess and ended up addicted to sleeping pills.
But Roger Daltrey is more than a rock star.
“When I’m off stage I don’t really live that rockstar lifestyle, I’m a kind of farmer.
That’s what I like I’m proud of keeping my feet on the ground,” he joked.
From bringing salmon back to the River Thames, to helping build hospitals for teenagers with cancer, the artist has been embarking for years on a tireless quest to enrich his existence and not “waste” any moment of his life.