It’s a rare but celebratory occasion when iconic figureheads of different generations come together to perform. It’s often something that is usually left for the imagination, as circumstances prevent these stars of various ages paths crossing and wondering what the result would have been like. However, this was a reality in 2009 when The Who frontman Roger Daltrey joined Pete Doherty’s band Babyshambles for a special concert in Bristol.
The two are figureheads from different periods in history, a time when rock music was the most anarchic music brand. There was nobody who put on a wilder live show than The Who back when they sprung onto the scene in 1965, their swirling energy filled rooms and their fans quickly learnt to expect the unexpected when it came to their concerts. In comparison, The Libertines made The Who seem like Take That when they arrived with their debaucherous antics that made Pete Doherty the hero of angsty-teens and the villain of the tabloid press.
Even Daltrey fell into the trap of writing off The Libertines man and went on a rant about his hedonistic lifestyle in 2005. A spill of harsh words came after Doherty’s shenanigans left to him getting kicked out of the band and, eventually, a time when they decided to split up. “It’s a waste of a life really because he’s got talent,” Daltrey told the Sunday Mirror. “He seems to be feeding off it, now he’s become infamous for his drug addiction he seems to think ‘that’s what I do so I’ve got to do it’, it’s very sad.”
However, when Daltrey met Doherty a couple of years later, he changed his tune and the two men struck up a kinship. The two British rock icons met in tragic circumstances, as they both attended the funeral of 16-year-old cancer victim Daniel Squires in Tyneside.
Daltrey has done an incredible amount of work with Teenage Cancer Trust for decades and knew Squires one would assume through the charity. Whereas Doherty met the music fanatic backstage at a concert, it was one of his wishes to meet Pete before his death, and they stayed in contact following their meeting.
When the Babyshambles singer discovered that Daniel had died, he made sure that he would help his mourning family and pay his tributes. Following the service, Doherty spent over an hour with Squires’ friends and family at the Golden Lion pub in Jarrow, South Tyneside. He then performed an impromptu set in the pub and wowed Daltrey, amazed by the act he’d just seen. The Who singer then asked Doherty to team up with him for a show later in the year for charity, and he didn’t need much persuading.
The stage was then set for Bristol’s O2 Academy on January 12th, 2009, before the gig Babyshambles bassist Drew McConnell, who now plays with Liam Gallagher, told NME: “We did one rehearsal,” he said. “It could go tits up tonight. It could always go tits up with us, but tonight especially. If we play well, then brilliant. But if we fuck it up massively, then at least it’s gonna be a laugh! I think that would be fun to watch anyway.”
After flying through a series of Babyshambles and Libertines efforts, the band welcomed Daltrey to the stage for 10-songs. McConnell feared the concert had a high chance of going spectacularly wrong but, somehow, it went swimmingly. Babyshambles backed Daltrey as he rattled through hits from The Who such as ‘Magic Bus’, ‘My Generation’ and ‘Substitute’. They even crammed in a pair of Johnny Cash covers into their set as they played, ‘Ring Of Fire’ and ‘I Got Stripes’.
On paper, this sounds like it should have been a recipe for disaster but, against all odds, they put on a show that would have made Daniel Squires proud. Not only did this gig bring these two stars together, more importantly, but it also raised a bucket load of money for a worthwhile cause.
Check out an array of footage from that famous night, below.