A man of many talents, the iconic Roger Daltrey was one of the founding members of The Who and its lead vocalist. Since its inception, Daltrey was known to be the guitarist for the band, but in the late 1960s, he made a shift from his role as a guitarist to the lead singer for the band – a decision that would, in the future, earn him the reputation of being a rock idol.
The road to Daltrey’s emergence as a singer was a bumpy one. As a young man, he had a stutter, and it was only through music that he found his voice. Daltrey later recalled how, while recording the band’s hit ‘My Generation’, that was punctuated by the stutters and the band’s manager had come up to him and said: “Stutter the words – it makes it sound like your pilled”, to which he only replied, “Oh… like I am!”
Conflict plagued the band right from the beginning. Daltrey earned a reputation of turning aggressive, especially when things didn’t go his way, or he needed to exercise control over something. Peter Townshend, the band’s lead guitarist, said that Daltrey “ran things the way he wanted. If you argued with him, you usually got a bunch of fives”. For Townshend and Daltrey, who were the two flagbearers of the band, their relationship was certainly quite prickly. Yet, when push came to shove, both gave their best to produce some of the greatest music together.
What was attractive about Roger Daltrey’s presence on stage as a lead singer, however, was his ability to engage with the piece of instrument that accentuated his skills and made him more prominent to his audience. In the case of a guitarist, it would’ve been his guitar, for a drummer his drums, and for Daltrey, it was the microphone. His act of swinging the microphone on stage by its chord (almost like a whip) became his signature move. Come to think of it; it was quite symbolic, too – Daltrey’s voice booming through the speakers, giving the resounding effect of a whip to his audience.
Even though solo careers were never on the priority list for the Who members, they kept it on the side as an engagement during their free time away from the band. Daltrey released ten studio albums as a solo act, including his solo debut album Daltrey, Ride a Rock Horse and Under a Raging Moon, as well as plenty of other compilation, live and soundtrack albums.
Treat yourself with these five marvellous isolated performances by the one and only Roger Daltrey, the man whose vocals can go from a screeching high to a growling low and hold the power to leave you completely spellbound.
5 isolated vocals by Roger Daltrey:
Written by Pete Townshend for The Who’s 1971 album Who’s Next, he recounted how ‘Baba O’Riley’ was about the absolute desolation they witnessed after the Woodstock festival they witnessed. It led to the creation of the lyrics “Teenage wasteland/ They’re all wasted”.
Daltrey’s genius, of course, lay in the fact that was able to bring out the spirit of the song perfectly through his voice. What was even more significant was his ability to put the soul into words such as “prove” or “fight” in the song, through his voice, and deliver them with utmost passion. It is was made the song one of The Who’s greatest hits of all time.
Part of their rock opera album Tommy released in 1969, ‘Pinball Wizard’ was one of the most famous songs by The Who. Written by Peter Townshend, the song was written from the perspective of a pinball champion who was impressed by the skill’s of the opera’s main character, Tommy Walker, after whom the album was named.
Townsend’s booming vocals were one of a kind especially with the slight vibrato at the end of each stanza. He was accompanied by Townshend for the harmonies, which were glorious but Daltrey’s vocals were a big part of gaining the song the kind of reputation it did.
‘I Can See For Miles’
Unlike ‘Pinball Wizard’, which was a must at every performance, ‘I Can See For Miles’ from The Who’s 1967 album The Who Sell Out, was hardly ever sung at the concerts. One of the reasons for this was probably the unbelievably complicated vocals and harmonies in the song.
The song was recorded in two different studios and then mixed in the third. Hear the isolated vocals below and see for yourself just how mind-blowing the vocals are on the song – worthy of being a beautiful acapella if it were to ever happen. Roger Daltrey’s sultry voice was just the cherry on top of the cake for the song.
‘Behind Blue Eyes’
Roger Daltrey’s soulful voice for the most part of the song which had the ability to put its audience in a trance, was as bewitching as were his deep, almost growling, rock vocal towards the end. It is only in the last half of a minute of the song that Daltrey reveals his exploding voice, a testimony to the wide range of his vocal prowess.
The song was written by Pete Townshend and was a single from the band’s fifth studio album Who’s Next. The song has been covered by various artists, but Roger Daltrey’s sensational vocals always remained unmatched.
‘Sea and Sand’
‘Sea and Sand’ was one of the most distinct tracks on The Who’s 1973 rock opera album Quadrophenia. A fan-favourite, the words to the song “Here by the sea and sand/ Nothing ever goes as planned” was a well-remembered Who lyric. The song was one of four on the album that referenced the mod movement.
Daltrey’s genius, of course, lay in the fact that was able to bring out the spirit of the song perfectly through his voice. This song was a stellar example of how Daltrey could pull off the dreamy highs as well as the angry and robust lows. His versatility was a true testament to his genius as a vocalist and also what made him one of the greatest rock icons of all time.