He is a singer, actor, producer, guitarist and harmonica player born Roger Harry Daltrey during WWII in Hammersmith, West London, who grew up in nearby Acton. His father was a worker at a local manufacturing business for water closets.
He had an operation around 1947 for the removal of a rusty nail that he had swallowed and two years later, when he was about five, he was back in hospital for treatment for a stomach ulcer which had been caused by the nail.
He went to his primary and high schools in Acton where his fellow students were John Entwistle and Pete Townshend. He did very well while at school and had the highest score when his class took their eleven plus examination, which was the exam taken to find the children who were eligible to grammar school.
Even though his parents had great hopes for him to attend university he had other ideas and became a rebel and decided to concentrate his time on rock and roll. He made himself a guitar and put together The Detours, which were a skiffle group. He made further guitars for the other members and became their lead guitarist in 1959 after his dad bought him a guitar.
He left school after being expelled due to being caught smoking and got himself a job as a sheet metal worker. He carried on performing in the evenings at clubs and pubs and then asked his old schoolmate John Entwistle to come and play bass. John asked Pete Townshend to join as a rhythm guitarist and they were joined by the drummer Doug Dandom and their lead singer Colin Dawson. Colin Dawson stayed with them for a while and then after he had decided to move on Roger took over the vocals and Pete Townshend took over the lead guitar duties. Another few years later in 1964 they were joined by Keith Moon who was a replacement for Doug Sandom on the drums. Roger chose the music they performed and for the most part they were songs by the popular artists of the day.
They came across another group going by the name The Detours and so after Richard Barnes, who was Pete Townshend’s room-mate suggested The Who they took the name on board. This name was changed to The High Numbers by their manager, Peter Meaden, and they started to perform Mod songs. They released the single “I’m the Face” with “Zoot Suit” on the flip side, but saw no success with it. They were seen by Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert when they were performing at a hotel and after they took on the role of their producer and manager their name was quickly changed back to The Who.
In 1965 he got married to Jackie Rickman, who he later had a son with, and the group landed themselves a record deal but Roger, who had always been the dominant leader of the band, had to begin to share the glory when Pete Townshend began writing their own songs. That same year the band actually got rid of him because he had starting fighting with Keith Moon because he was supplying drugs to the others. They allowed him back for a probationary period the next week but told that he must tone down his aggression and not lash out at the others.
Trying his hand at songwriting he wrote “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere” with Pete Townshend and it became their second release, but he didn’t pursue this side of things and stuck to singing while Pete became the main composer. Roger went on to become known for his unique style of singing and his potent and charismatic stage presence and Pete Townshend later said that “he almost invented the pseudo-messianic roles taken on later by Jim Morrison and Robert Plant”. He also brought in his trademark of throwing and swinging the microphone during concert performances.
As the 1960s progressed, so did the reputation and popularity of The Who. They had countless hits with songs such as “Happy Jack”, “I Can See For Miles”, “I Can’t Explain”, “My Generation” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and their rock opera Tommy, which was made into a film in 1975 with Roger in the leading role, which won him a Golden Globe for “Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture”. In 1967 they made their first tour of American and appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival. He was divorced from his wife Jackie in 1968.
The 1970s were busy with the release of further hit singles and albums for The Who and at the same time Roger found his career as a solo singer and actor were really starting to take off. He also got re-married in 1971 to Heather Taylor and released his first solo album, Daltrey, which introduced Leo Sayer as a songwriter, in 1973. His work with Leo continued when he introduced him to write for many other artists. He starred in Lisztomania and collaborated on the soundtrack with Rick Wakeman. In 1975 he released his Ride a Cock Horse and his 1977 One of the Boys had Eric Clapton, Alvin Lee, Hank Marvin and Mick Ronson and Paul McCartney contributed the song “Giddy”. The Who suffered a blow in the late 1970s after Keith Moon was found dead and Roger was not happy about the drummer’s replacement Kenney Jones. Roger also suffered a personal tragedy during the 1970s when he lost his young sister to cancer.
When the 1980s came around he found himself producing, working on the soundtrack and in the starring role of the film drama McVicar for The Who Films Ltd. Although the film was a success, it was not so good for the tensions within the group and in 1982, after Pete Townshend felt unable to write for the band, they made a decision to retire from touring. They did, however, appear at events such as Live Aid and Roger continued with his own solo recording and acting in stage and film productions such Buddy’s Song, The Hunting of the Snark, The Little Match Girl and Murder: Ultimate Grounds For Divorce.
In 1985 he released his Under the Raging Moon where the title track was a tribute to Keith Moon, and appeared on Barbra Strisand’s video for “Emotion”. In 1988 the next album Can’t Wait to See the Movie saw him doing much of the song-writing and singing a duet with his daughter Willow. In 1989 The Who decided to put on a 25th Anniversary Tour and were joined by a massive backing group alongside their guests Phil Collins, Elton John, Patti LaBelle and Steve Winwood. During the tour Roger suffered an abdominal hemangioma but somehow managed to finish the tour.
As the 1990s rolled in his acting and singing career as a solo artist and with The Who continued and he saw further success when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Who. He performed “I Want It All” in tribute to his friend Freddy Mercury at the Tribute Concert held in 1992, he released Rocks in the Head in 1993 and he and The Chieftains were the recipients of a Grammy Award in 1993 for An Irish Evening: Live at the Grand Opera House, Belfast. In 1994 he performed A Celebration: The Music of Pete Townshend & The Who with a host of special guests at Carnegie Hall as a celebration of his 50thbirthday and it was so successful that a major tour followed. In 1995 he appeared as the Tin Woodman in Wizard of Oz in Concert: Dreams Come True and in 1996/7 a tour due to the re-found popularity of Quadrophenia was launched although he had to wear a patch due to his eye socket being fractured when Gray Glitter had swung a microphone stand and hit him in the face with it. In 1998 he went on a further tour with the British Rock Symphony and starred as Scrooge in a production by the Radio City Music Hall.
The new millennium saw no slowing down for him when The Who toured again over 1999-2000 and further tours continued after that although were interrupted by the death of John Entwistle in 2002. The tour they were on at the time was completed after the decision to continue with it was made by Roger and Pete Townshend and John Entwistle’s position was filled by the bassist Pino Palladino. In 2003 he starred as Alfred B. Doolittle in a production of My Fair Lady at the Hollywood Bowl and was named a European Hero by Time for his long standing support of the Teenage Cancer Trust. In 2004 they undertook a further tour and later that year he was honoured in the New Years Honours List for his contribution to music and his large amount of charity work by being made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). The following year he was awarded a Gold Badge Award from the British Songwriters, Composer and Authors and inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame.
In 2005 he performed at Night at the Proms and released his compilation album Moonlighting and in 2006 he and Pete Townshend released Endless Wire which was the first new studio album they had recorded in 24 years. Another world tour followed and in 2008 Roger and Pete Townshend were honoured when they were recipients of the 31st annual Kennedy CenterHonors. More honours for him were to follow when he was given the James Joyce Award from University College Dublin’s Literature and Historical Society.
In more recent times he embarked with the backing band No Plan B on his Use It or Lose It solo tour The Who (Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend) performed the halftime show at Super Bowl XLIV in February 2010, the following month they gave a performance of Quadrophenia at the Teenage Charity Benefit tenth anniversary benefit at the Royal Albert Hall in London and in July 2010 he was the opening act for Eric Clapton. Today and The Who are regularly heard singing the theme songs for all three series of the CSI franchise.
Having performed on countless albums as a solo artist, as a member of The Who and as a guest vocalist he has appeared on We’ve Come For You All by Anthrax, Basement Tapes by Blodwyn Pig, Pin Ups and Sound & Vision by David Bowie, Best of Days by Steve Ellis, All Shapes and Sizes Family Album by Faces, Now Voyager by Barry Gibb, 80 by B.B.King, Bad Attitude by Meat Loaf, Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus by The Rolling Stones, Global a Go-Go by Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros, Iron Man: A Musical by Pete Townshend, Instant Party, Magic Bus, Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy, My Generation and Ready Steady Who by The Who and Yesspeak by Yes to name a few.
He became a patron of the Children’s Respite Trust for children with disabilities in 2011 and in 2012 he supported Tomorrow’s People Trust in helping unemployed young people in Heathfield, East Sussex.
Here he is performing “Giving it All Away”…