The Who's frontman Roger Daltrey talked candidly about his career in a special keynote interview at the International Live Music Conference (ILMC).
Held at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington from March 5-8, the invitation-only event welcomes over 1,000 of the world’s leading live music professionals from more than 60 countries.
Daltrey appeared in conversation with former Dire Straits manager Ed Bicknell yesterday (March 7). Topics covered included the band's guitarist Pete Townshend, late drummer Keith Moon, managers past and present and the singer's memories of the original Woodstock festival, along with his work with the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Here are some of the highlights from the wide-ranging 90-minute chat...
DALTREY ON MONEY
"In 1971 after touring for a whole year, we spent about probably nine months of it away from home in America. We came back to the great news that our debt instead of being £1.3 million it had gone down to £650,000, so we hadn't really done anything, we thought this was a losing game. But then we got lucky and Tommy hit... And finally record royalties started to come through and that saved us. But we didn't make any money until 1971."
ON FIRING MANAGERS KIT LAMBERT AND CHRIS STAMP
"I never really wanted to ever get rid of Kit and Chris. Lambert and Stamp were pivotal to our success, they were the best creative managers any band could have wished for, especially a band like The Who. They were incredible, but they were crooked... They ended up with nothing, we lost two great creative people who could've been part of our team and I've never felt great about it."
ON CURRENT MANAGER BILL CURBISHLEY
“Bill Curbishley was working at Track [Records] and every night he would disappear quite early from the office. I didn't realise he was out on parole! He was inside for a bank robbery that he didn't do. Bill did eight years of his life for someone else, but never ever told. That spoke to me that this man, if he does a deal with you, it's great and to that day I've never regretted, for one minute, having Bill Curbishley as our manager. And from that day we started to make money – real money. He's fantastic, and totally honest."
Keith Moon was bomb-proof, he was extraordinary. But it was all hiding other stuff that he had inside
ON KEITH MOON
"I don't know how he survived as long as he did with how he used to live his life. He was bomb-proof, he really was, he was extraordinary. But it was all hiding other stuff that he had inside. He was so talented, Keith, and he was insecure. He was the funniest man I've ever met in my life, even Peter Sellers used to laugh at Keith Moon and it used to take a lot to make Peter Sellers laugh, let me tell you, but Moon used to have him in stitches. But also underneath that was this incredible frailty and vulnerability. He had a lot of tragedy in his life and he never really came out of that tragedies, it was all buried inside him and he was trying to drown it with alcohol and the other drugs. He got into cocaine, everyone got into cocaine in those days. I've never even had a sniff of it, thank God, I don't want to go there – I've seen so many good people turn into absolute arseholes within 10 minutes."
ON PETE TOWNSHEND
"Townshend, in rock music and popular music, is probably one of the most important composers of the 20th century. His music does contain genius. It's always frustrated me that when you read about The Who, people always wrote just about Pete smashing a guitar into an amp and all that. They didn't get it – it was not about the visual of it, it was about the sound that it was making. When Pete used to break a guitar, sometimes it would take him 10 minutes to finish the job and it would be like a sacrificial lamb; the thing would scream, it would make these noises. It was an incredible sonic experience. What I remember is some nights we would come off stage and the ringing in our ears didn't go away for two days."
"I tell you what I do remember about Woodstock – Creedence Clearwater [Revival] have never been talked about in Woodstock. They were incredible. John Fogerty and that band on that day, they were so tight, they were so on it, their sound, you just couldn't help but move to it, it was just fantastic. All the rest of Woodstock, even though it was a disaster, the crowd were the stars of Woodstock, the bands were just there playing another gig. And it was a mess, it was all those things that you see in the film, but equally it brought people together in a way that I think that was the first nail in the coffin of the Vietnam War."
ON MODERN MUSIC
"Music's got a different position in society than it's had. I don't know what it means now because I'm not young, I'm old. The great bands are still there – Arctic Monkeys, Last Shadow Puppets... Oasis are a great band if they ever get back together – together they're twice as good as they are when they're on their own – they need to be told. You've got Paul Weller who's wonderfully original... I can understand the drill stuff but I don't like the venom of it... I can't give any advice to young people because this world has changed so much. It seems to me that being a celebrity on YouTube is much more important than it is to be musician these days."
ILMC 31 concludes today and will feature a keynote interview with Dua Lipa and her father Dukagjin Lipa at the inaugural Futures Forum, a one-day event for young live music professionals.