Tommy Boy

Joanna Della-Ragione

THE WHO’S Roger Daltrey became famous singing about his generation, but his storied career is thanks to lyrics and music that remain relevant even 40 years later. Three of the group’s biggest hits— “Who Are You?” “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again”—serve as the theme songs for the three CSI series. Watch! caught up with the fabled rocker in London on the eve of The Who’s North American tour.

Watch!: How has the CSI series’ use of your songs changed your musical legacy?

Roger Daltrey: It’s brought us into contact with a younger audience worldwide we might have never had. We got lucky; we are a good live band and we’ve always delivered onstage, but we’ve had enormous good fortune with CSI giving us a platform to get our music out there.

Watch!: You’ve acted a bit, including in a 2009 cameo on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Would you like to do more?

Daltrey: I would definitely do CSI again if I were asked! It was tremendous fun and an honor. I don’t know whether it’s true, but there’s a rumor that the concept for CSI was inspired by an old poster for “Who Are You?” of a London copper on the street looking at a chalked-out body on the pavement.

Watch!: How did playing this year’s London Olympics closing ceremony compare to the halftime show at the Super Bowl in 2010?

Daltrey: They were both honors. The Super Bowl was huge, and with the Olympics it was an honor to be representing Britain. London did a fantastic job and made Britain look like a wonderful place to live, even with all the problems we’ve got. But the shows themselves are so fast, it’s a bit like a trip to the dentist with a toothache—it’s over so quickly and you know you’ve done it, but you can’t remember what it was like. Playing a Who show is like running a marathon, whereas the halftime show was like Usain Bolt running the 100-meter dash.

Watch!: Where in the world are the best fans?

Daltrey: I toured Italy this year and the fans were so expressive it was wonderful—you know the music is touching them. In America the fans want to party and rock out. Both are amazing.

Watch!: You’ve had a rocky relationship with your bandmate Pete Townshend. What’s your relationship like now?

Daltrey: I would like to think we’re really good friends now, but I always knew that. It’s only a good friend who will disagree with you and will put his nose in front of your fist sometimes to be honest with you from a perspective that most people aren’t. We probably are more mellow, but we’re as honest with each other now as we ever were. I’d never say there’ll never be another bust-up, because there probably will be.

Watch!: What inspires you as a musician?

Daltrey: Life inspires me. And music. After that, my biggest passion is the Teenage Cancer Trust in England and the Who Cares Teen Cancer America charity that we’ve launched in the U.S. to address the lack of facilities in hospitals for sick teenagers. I played a benefit concert with Robert Plant and Dave Grohl last year that raised money to build our first unit at UCLA, which was wonderful. These young people are going through heartbreak and they can still find it in themselves to be positive. It’s hugely inspiring.

Watch!: You’ve been doing this for more than 40 years. Do you think you will stop touring soon?

Daltrey: There can’t be too many more at our age, can there? I’ll go on doing it as long as we can do it well and the music still feels as significant. If it ever starts to get hokey, then I’ll stop.

Watch!: What do you consider the best moment in your career?

Daltrey: There have been so many. Three years ago I played the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, home of the Grand Ole Opry. I don’t know whether it’s the spirits of all the people who’ve played there in the past, like Elvis and Johnny Cash, but it was the most joyful night I’ve ever had onstage.

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