The Who’s enigmatic frontman Roger Daltrey is a character who wrote the blueprint on how to be a superstar rock ‘n’ roll singer. Daltrey has been parading around the stage as he owned it with the same kind of authority, whether it was a sweaty club in 1965 or Wembley Stadium celebrating whatever anniversary tour they are using as a warrant to tour in the 21st Century.
Only a handful of singers have the same kind of stage presence as Daltrey, whose whole persona is built about his larger than life persona that he adopts when performing. He has made millions of people have nights that they’ll never forget and also pissed off his bandmate, Pete Townshend, in the process, which is a double win for the singer.
Few bands have had the longevity that The Who have had, with the two surviving members of the group still selling-out stadiums all over the world today. It is some achievement over half a century into your career, and even though he’s in his 70s, you wouldn’t guess it if you didn’t know better, judging from the band’s exhilarating performances on their last tour. The singer somehow still acts like a Duracell bunny who had one too many Haribo’s before the show.
Daltrey is an ultimate showman, and one thing that all true showmen need in their arsenal is a gimmick. If The Who frontman was a character on Mortal Kombat, then his ability to swing a mic would be his special move. Like all good USP’s, this trademark move came about in an organic way rather than contrived, but it also has another use.
Speaking to AC/DC’s Brian Johnson in 2017, Daltrey recalled: “One night I just threw the microphone, grabbed the lead and it came back, I thought, ‘well that’s interesting’. Before I knew it, I could take a cigarette out of someone’s mouth from about twenty paces,” the singer giggled.
“You can’t be scared when you do it, that’s the one thing you can’t be. There is one person I know who I hit deliberately, true story. We were in the Albert Hall, it was two shows, and Chuck Berry was supposed to be opening up for The Who, but, Chuck being Chuck, he ain’t opening up for no-one.
“Of course, Chuck’s audience were all these teddy boy’s. There’s a big mob of them, about 300 of them all crowded around the front of the stage at the Albert Hall, and they started throwing things,” Daltrey blissfully recalled. “All of a sudden, I felt something clip my eye, there’s still a scar there, I put my hand there, and it was all blood. It was an old-fashioned copper pennies, they’d clipped the sides of it and made it sharp,” he gruesomely added.
“He threw it at me, and I saw the guy who threw it at me. He was standing at the front round this crowd of ted’s, and so I’m pointing at him and swinging this microphone. The loop got bigger and bigger then I let it go. It hit him smack, bang, wallop on the nose,” Daltrey says whilst trying to hide his laughter.
So there you have it, Roger Daltrey stumbled upon swinging the mic and learnt that not only did it look badass, but it could also be used as a handy weapon if it ever came to it.
Although Daltrey claims he’s only ‘deliberately’ swung it into somebody’s face on one occasion, it’s hard not to think that he’s contemplating it plenty of times. Pete Townshend can count himself lucky to not have faced the wrath of the dreaded swinging microphone.