The Who is one of the legendary bands of the last 50-plus years, still performing, with only two surviving members. Now the lead singer has released his autobiography, six years after that of his performing partner and key songwriter, Pete Townshend.
Like Billy Connolly’s and Eric Idle’s new autobiographies (or, in Eric’s opinion, his sorta-biography), it is the reflections of a man of a certain age and a certain era. With each of these men, their drive to succeed came from their early schooling (including an abject hatred of mathematics – seriously, each one states it, categorically). For Daltrey, it was being told that he would never amount to anything that drove him to make something of himself – and what he made is the stuff of rock legends.
Daltrey’s journey, much like Connolly’s, is that of the labourer who took a chance, went on stage and never looked back. He recounts his humble beginnings, including building his own guitar from materials he acquired at work, to the early days of The Who. Those days were, as so many bands recount, days of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, while the money went to someone else.
The book takes the reader from those hard rocking days, to the pain of losing not one, but two members of the band and the struggle to find the right combination of talent to continue on. There is his side of the brotherly bond (of sorts) with Pete Townshend, with references to Pete’s book, in a ‘you’d have to ask him’ manner of speaking about their relationship. From there, it’s onwards and forwards to his life today and a nod to the man who inspired the title.
This book is an informative tale of the man and the band, but there is something missing. It feels a little too conversational, saying much but without passion on the page. It could be said it feels like Daltrey wrote this for himself, rather than to engage the reader – and maybe he did. As he states, it’s his voice that drives The Who, with Pete’s lyrics to ride on.
Perhaps an audio book version, thank you, Mr Daltrey?
Reviewed by Glen Christie
Rating out of 10: 7
Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: November 2018