The relationship between The Who’s Roger Daltrey and Keith Moon was full of love, but they also had their fair share of tumultuous times too. The issues, it has to be said, were largely down to the Moon’s struggles with substance abuse. On one occasion, things even got physical between them.
Daltrey always lived a clean-cut lifestyle compared to the rest of the band who, in truth, were unashamed hedonists. The singer didn’t mind drugs being consumed, just as long as they weren’t doing it during work hours and, more importantly, not letting their habits affect their playing.
On multiple occasions, however, The Who put in lacklustre performances because of their penchant for amphetamines, and understandably, this drove Daltrey insane. Their tendencies deteriorated their professional status because the band couldn’t be relied upon to put on a clinic every night. It also reflected poorly on their frontman, even though he did everything possible to provide ticket buyers with value for money.
Eventually, Daltrey reached boiling point and couldn’t contain his rage any longer, which resulted in a physical altercation with Moon that could have had devastating consequences. “For them to take it before a show was a complete no-no because here was this brilliant band of musicians,” the singer told Coda Collection. “Townsend was an absolute original on the guitar. Entwistle was an original on the bass. What can you say more about Moon [than] being totally original?”.
Adding: “When they got on the amphetamines, the music just turned to a load of crap. The songs were too fast. When rock gets too fast, it’s not rooted. The band thinks it’s good because they’re all, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll speed it up.'”
The fight had been brewing up for some time before Daltrey snapped. He had quite rightly become frustrated at his bandmates selfishly making his job severely more complicated, and one day, the singer decided that enough was enough. He continued: “It’s clumsy. It sure became clumsy before I threw the amphetamines down the toilet. Then we just came to the agreement that I wouldn’t fight anymore. Though it was a fair fight that I had, that I got thrown out of the band for because Moon came for me with a tambourine.”
Daltrey then elaborated on the regrettable incident and added: “He came at me with the bells of the tambourine. Slashing. Which if it had caught me in the face or across the eyes, it would have blinded me. It was not funny. I did lay into him and I laid into him quite heavy, but I think he deserved it, to be honest with you.”
Concluding: “Anyway, after a few weeks of them doing shows without me, and audiences dropping off quite rapidly, they asked to have a meeting with me to come back. And I was very adamant. I would only go back if they came to the agreement that they wouldn’t take drugs before a show.”
This fight occurred in 1965, a time when they were still making a name for themselves. If his bandmates didn’t agree to put the group ahead of narcotics, then The Who would never have become one of the great British musical institutions, and Daltrey was proved right in putting his foot down, even if it risked their future.