Roger Daltrey on New Tour, Retiring That Scream & Amy Winehouse Biopic

Connecting via Zoom from across the pond, Roger Daltrey declares with great exuberance, “I’m actually looking forward to a tour! I’m out there to have a good time this time.”



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Daltrey doesn’t mean to cast aspersions on his many treks with The Who, mind you — most recently the symphonic tours he and Pete Townshend began in 2019. But his upcoming nine-date North American run, which kicks off June 12 in Vienna, Va., is something else entirely, described as “a mostly acoustic set of Who gems, rarities, solo nuggets and other surprises,” along with Q&A opportunities for the audiences.

“I’ve done all those years with The Who, and I’ve done my solo stuff and charity gigs and all that,” Daltrey tells Billboard. “I just want to branch out and do something different, where I’ve got different instrumentation and I can stop using tape loops. It just creates a whole new sound and allows me the freedom as a singer to put some other people’s songs in I’ve been fond of over the years. It’s gonna be quite interesting. I’m just determined to enjoy myself and explore the freedom I’ve got to do what I want to do on this tour, and let’s see where it ends up.”

Don’t ask what those songs will be, however.

“I’m not gonna talk about songs,” Daltrey says. “Too many people reveal songs. There’s no surprises left with concerts these days, ’cause everybody wants to see the setlist. I’m f–king sick of it. The Internet’s ruined the live shows for me. Who wants to know what’s coming next? People forget about surprises. I can’t stand it.”

Maybe, it’s suggested, that it’s just an audience with weak bladders who want to pick the right spot to visit the loo? “Why not just start to listen to the bloody show in the toilet, then?” he says with a laugh.

One song Daltrey expects to perform is The Who opus “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” but, he adds, “We don’t use a tape loop for the instrumentation. We do it on real instruments. It just takes it off the rails and gives me more room as a singer.” That said, Daltrey notes, “I’m not gonna do the scream. I’m gonna get the f–king audience to do the scream. I’ve done that scream for 55 years, and I’ve had enough of it. I don’t even want to try it now; it’s brutal on the vocal cords. They can do the scream, and I’ll do everything else. I’m more into singing these days. At the age of 80, I think I deserve to be.”

Daltrey’s band for the tour includes Who musicians Simon Townshend (Pete’s younger brother) on guitar, violinist Katie Jacoby and Billy Nicholls on mandolin and vocals, rounded out by Jody Linscott on percussion, guitarist Doug Boyle, bassist John Hogg, harmonica player Steve Weston, Geraint Watkins on keyboards and accordion and drummer Scott Devours. “I like to put bands together where we’re a real band and everybody gets the spotlight and there’s camaraderie,” Daltrey says. “To me a band is more than choosing great musicians; you can sometimes have five great musicians on stage and there’s no chemistry whatsoever and it falls flat on its face. That’s not gonna happen here.”

As for the Q&A part of the night, Daltrey did something similar for a show in England back in 2022 and enjoyed it. Fans will be able to submit written questions to boxes at the venues before the show, then the band will review them backstage and choose “the most interesting ones…and I just draw them out of a hat. It creates a great deal of fun, and you can get some good comedy out of it if you’re lucky.”

The tour, meanwhile, is just one of the projects Daltrey has in motion these days. He has no plans yet to record another solo album — his last, As Long as I Have You, came out in 2018 — but doesn’t rule it out, either. “I don’t really think about it,” he says. “If anything turns up that I find interesting and challenging and musically progressive, I’ll have a go at it.” Meanwhile he’s continuing to work on making a biopic about late Who drummer Keith Moon that he’s been plugging away at for many years; Daltrey has a script in place that will be finalized once he finds a director, which is the next step in the process.

“That’s taken up quite a lot of my time; I want to get this made while I’m still alive to promote it,” he says. “I’m trying not to make that (typical) kind of biopic. There’s some good ones out there; I thought the Amy Winehouse (Back to Black) was better than the reviews it got. I thought (star Marisa Abela) was really good, actually, ’cause I knew Amy. But was that a film? I’m not so sure. I think it’s a TV film, and that’s the problem cinema has at the moment. What are you making it for — streaming or theaters? And I suggest that if you’re making great films you’ve got to think of theater. You’ve got to take them into theater and blow their minds. You never get your mind blown on a TV, do ya?”

Daltrey is also contemplating a second book to follow his 2018 memoir Thanks a Lot Mr. Kibblewhite: My Story, one that will delve further into the shyness and insecurities he felt during the early days of The Who. “I didn’t really go deep enough in my first book,” he says. “Quite a lot of it was terrifying, but I didn’t show it. I need to write about it.” The Who itself, meanwhile, is back of mind for Daltrey, who claims that “I don’t really think about it.”

“I’ll do it if Pete wants to do it, really wants to do it and do it properly,” Daltrey explains. “As far as I’m concerned, do we need another Who tour? We were a great group and two of our members died, and it’s been different since. Equally, there’s a chemistry between Pete and I. I love him dearly. There’s something special there, but it needs us both to be on fire and both wanting to be there. So if he really, really wants to do it I’m gonna turn up even with a broken leg, and I’ll deliver for you.”

But if The Who never return, Daltrey says he’s satisfied the band did its bit — and then some. “We did as much as I could ever have wished for, and more. I thought it ended on the ultimate presentation of Pete Townshend’s music, which is out with the orchestra while maintaining the thunder of a rock band. That’s what the music deserved.”

Daltrey’s upcoming tour itinerary includes:
June 10 / Keswick Theatre / Glenside, PA
June 12 / Wolf Trap – Filene Center / Vienna, VA
June 14 / OLG Stage at Fallsview Casino / Niagara Falls, ON
June 16 / Bethel Woods Center for the Arts / Bethel, NY
June 18 / The Capitol Theatre / Port Chester, NY
June 20 / Leader Bank Pavilion / Boston, MA
June 22 / Tanglewood – The Koussevitzky Music Shed / Lenox, MA
June 23 / Mohegan Sun – Uncasville, CT
June 25 / Meadow Brook Amphitheatre / Detroit, MI
June 28 / Memorial Park / Omaha, NE
June 29 / The Pavilion at Ravinia / Highland Park, IL