The Who’s iconic frontman Roger Daltrey is not afraid to speak his mind. An outspoken character embodying the outdated alpha male “rock god” himself, Daltrey comes from a generation who are markedly different to the ones that govern social media and opinion today. Born in 1944, it is not hard to understand why many of his opinions are diametrically opposed to more contemporary ones.
An interesting patchwork of ideas, the curly-haired leader of the Who was famously a proponent of the controversial Brexit vote and is a staunch Anglophile. Memorably he said: “Whatever happens our country should never fear the consequences of leaving. We went into the Common Market in 1973. Do you know what was going on before we went in? It was the 1960s. The most exciting time ever – Britain was Swinging. Films, Theatre, Fashion, Art and Music… Britain was the centre of the world. You got that because Britain was doing its own thing. It was independent. Not sure we’ll ever get that again when we’re ruled by bureaucrats in the European Union.”
In 2018 he also made headlines when he offered up a contentious and quite frankly outdated opinion on the #MeToo movement, stating: “I find this whole thing so obnoxious. It’s always allegations and it’s just salacious crap.”
The inclusion of this statement is not intended to cause offence but rather to show that Daltrey is no stranger to debate. After all, who can be surprised as he was the mind behind anthems such as ‘My Generation’ and ‘Baba O’Riley’. The former soundtracked his generation’s own rebellion against the status quo.
In 2019, Daltrey again gave his ultimate opinion on something else, another hot topic. Asked by a radio interviewer who his definitive “rock god” is, Daltrey swiftly responded that he believes it none other than Led Zeppelin frontman, Robert Plant.
Daltrey remembered the heady days of the ’60s: “Well, I was friends with Jimmy Page in the ’60s. I knew them from the very early years. It was Keith (Moon) that came up with the name Led Zeppelin and I became very good friends with Robert Plant and we still are today. They supported us on one of their first United States gigs in Washington or Baltimore, or somewhere, Maryland”.
Daltrey proceeded to explain his love for Daltrey and why the esoteric Led Zeppelin frontman is his favourite rocker of all time: “I love his solo stuff too, he is always exploring. I love how he uses African influences on his music, that he does solo. He’s never dull. That’s what I like about Robert. He’s got incredible courage.”
Daltrey then cast his mind back to the game-changing impact Led Zeppelin had when they burst onto the scene, “When Led Zeppelin first came out, I thought they were fantastic.” He places the Who in the picture as well, remembering playing shows with two of the ’60s most iconic acts: “Throughout our early history, we used to do loads of gigs with Hendrix and Cream, that three-piece-band-and-a-singer formula.”
In an honest take on the effect of Led Zeppelin, Daltrey masterfully paints the impact the long-haired quartet had: “We were well-schooled in that, but Zeppelin took it to another level. There was a power there. They were like Cream, but with a lot more weight. Jack Bruce of Cream was really a jazz and blues singer, but Robert knew how to rock.”
In the most telling assertion on the advent of Led Zeppelin, Daltrey remembered: “All of a sudden, there was a new form of music,” he said, before adding: “The music scene was starting to get a bit tired. Even Hendrix was starting to get tired then, moving into jazz. Zeppelin regenerated it.”
It comes as no surprise that one of the most iconic frontmen of all time would choose one of his peers as his ultimate “rock god”. Essentially, the “classic rock” era was a pioneering point in music that contained perpetual shoulder-rubbing between its most iconic acts. “Teamwork makes the dream work”, as it goes. To be honest, though, Robert Plant is undoubtedly one of the most iconic frontmen of all time, and without his input, Led Zeppelin wouldn’t have had that visceral, mythic edge that set them apart from their peers. Daltrey’s opinion provides brilliant insight into that point.
Listen to ‘Immigrant Song’ by Led Zeppelin, below.