The Kennedy Center

Roger Daltrey


Roger Daltrey (Musician, singer, composer and actor; born March 1, 1944 in London, England)

Roger Harry Daltrey was born in 1944 in Hammersmith and grew up in the working class London suburb of Acton. He attended Victoria Primary School and then Acton Grammar School for Boys, alongside Pete Townshend and John Entwistle. A born rebel, Daltrey found a home in music and made his first guitar from a block of wood, forming a skiffle band called The Detours. He got his first electric guitar in 1959, got in trouble in school, and was expelled. Pete Townshend recalled of his friend that "Roger has been a good pupil. Then he heard Elvis and transmogrified into a Teddy Boy with an electric guitar and a dress-sneer. Was it simply rock and roll?  It was obvious to a young man as intelligent as Roger that there was no future in conforming any more."

Daltrey was a teenage dropout and sheet-metal worker when he brought together Entwistle and Townshend in the Shepherd’s Bush Youth Club in 1961, in effect forming the band that would become The Who. Daltrey was the front man, and his unstoppable energy then as often through the years drove the band’s elegant resolve. But Townshend became the leader, early on, The Who’s great songwriter. When songwriting itself grew more ambitious, Roger Daltrey became Tommy—play and player were one bare-chested sexy bundle of charisma and curls, with a distinctive voice rivaled by few in the history of popular music. He took that role to heart, on record, on tour, and in Ken Russell’s controversial movie that earned Daltrey a Golden Globe nomination in 1975. He went on to star in Russell’s outrageous Lisztomania, establishing a happy double routine of continuing his singing career with The Who while enjoying acting gigs including McVicar on the big screen, Lois & Clark on American television, The Beggars’ Opera and The Comedy of Errors for the BBC, The Hunting of the Snark in the West End, and A Christmas Carol at Madison Square Garden, where he played Scrooge in 1998. He has played Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar and Doolittle in My Fair Lady. What other rock star can claim such credits? Since 2000, Daltrey has been a patron of the Teenage Cancer Trust, for whom he began working by launching the event The Who & Friends at the Royal Albert Hall that raised more than $2.5 million in ticket, CD and DVD sales for the fight against cancer.
Pete Townshend