Like any Acton boy in the fifties and sixties, Roger Daltrey was never afraid to stop talking and start throwing fists. Even when it was his bandmates. It was something Keith Moon experienced first hand and it almost cost the singer his stardom.
Back in 1965, The Who were the burning question on everybody’s lips. The band had begun to eviscerate audiences with their live shows and subsequent instrument destruction but tensions were running high.
Caught between two musical powerhouses (though for slightly different reasons) Daltrey often acted as the middle man between Pete Townshend and Keith Moon. While Moon’s increasing substance abuse was fraying tempers at one end, Townshend was pushing Daltrey increasingly out of the limelight.
In the lead up to the bruising incident, the band had been on an unusual run of poor performances. One show saw Daltrey mauled by fans, injuring his back. Another show saw the band’s van stolen along with all the equipment inside. Then, to cap it all off, there was the band’s infamous set in Denmark which after a few minutes of furious rock and roll, saw the crowd rush the stage and cause £10,000 worth of damages.
It was during that tour that Daltrey’s patience for the increasingly incoherent Moon ran out. After a show of particularly bad playing from the drummer, Daltrey found Moon’s stash of drugs and flushed it away. Naturally, Moon was not best pleased and was soon in the face of the singer.
As any Acton boy will tell you, that’s enough to wind up with some knuckles on your nose and sure enough Daltrey let rip across Moon’s soon-to-be-bloodied nose. “It took about five people to hold me off him,” the singer remembered in Roger Daltrey: The Biography. “It wasn’t just because I hated him, it was just because I loved the band so much and thought it was being destroyed by those pills.”
In a turn of events that would be unthinkable in today’s clinical rock climate, Townshend and bassist John Entwhistle took the side of Moon during the debacle and agreed that he had simply gone too far. They fired him from the group.
It was a decision that didn’t exactly last long. Once the WHo’s managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp got involved the argument soon settled down. Once the managers explained the serious damage losing Daltrey’s vocals at this stage in the band’s career could do, the argument ended entirely. Sadly, Moon’s time in the band would come to a close prematurely with his death in 1978.
It would allow The Who to not only jump on the success of their zeitgeist anthem ‘My Generation’ but to establish themselves as one of rock’s biggest acts. Listen below to the band back in 1965, singing, ‘My Generation’.
Source: Ultimate Classic Rock