As a general rule I do not normally engage with Britain’s right-wing tabloid press but many do and this probably explains why Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend chose the Mail On Sunday’s You magazine as the organ to which they would grant what was trumpeted yesterday as their ‘first interview in a decade’. It most certainly was not – Pete gave countless interviews two years ago when he was promoting his autobiography Who I Am and Roger has spoken extensively in recent years to further the good causes he serves so well – but the truth is not something that the MoS and its sister paper the Daily Mail care much about so long as whatever they publish helps their political and social agenda which is to serve the Tory party, oppose any relaxation of the drug laws or rail against immigrants for taking our jobs, helping themselves to disproportionate sums in benefits and farting in elevators, or whatever else they can cook up that will please their net-curtain twitching middle-England readership. But I digress…
In this case the fib was to elevate the interview, the assumption being that The Who is off the radar for most of their readers who are unlikely to have read any recent interviews with Roger and Pete. It was laid out in typical tabloid style, with virtually every sentence allotted its own paragraph, this because the MoS sub-editor presumably believes that its readership will be unwilling to concentrate too hard on dense passages or lengthy sentences, so the dumbed-down tabloidese approach is preferred.
So what did this much trumpeted interview contain? It will come as no surprise to seasoned Who watchers that it contains nothing of note that we haven’t heard many times before. ‘Good copy’ is clearly a requirement for MoS readers and this means dredging up old controversies and confrontations. So Pete and Roger don’t always see eye to eye, and - sensationally!!! - Rog once clocked Pete, knocking him out. I always thought this by now very well-reported event happened when they were rehearsing the songs from Quadrophenia at Sheperton in 1973, but according to Roger it happened when “we were filming ‘Love Reign O’er Me’ for the Quadrophenia movie”. Funny, I’ve seen that movie about half a dozen times now and don’t recall seeing The Who perform ‘Love Reign O’Me’ in it, or any other song for that matter.
Pete once fancied Mick Jagger, neither Peter nor Roger much enjoyed playing at Woodstock, David Bowie liked Tommy which may have inspired him to invent Ziggy Stardust, Pete was mad when in 1964 the Queen Mother demanded the removal of his hearse from its parking place in Belgravia, Roger isn’t impressed by One Direction but likes the Royal Family, Pete used to drink too much and once passed out in a club after a shot of heroin, Roger has never been into drugs, both of them miss John and Keith a lot, Roger once clocked Keith because Moonie bashed him over the head with a tambourine and this led to the singer being briefly thrown out of the group. Now where have I read that before?
In between the quotes is a wodge of trivial domestic information about wives, families, homes and money that will sit well with MoS readers who enjoy celebrity gossip that veers on the intrusive. At one stage The Who are described as ‘a £180 million business with a highly profitable two-year projection’. And I always thought they were a terrific rock band.
Two weeks ago I reported on Jimmy Page being interviewed in public in an event that was sponsored by The Guardian, the polar opposite of the Daily Mail in terms of its political views, intelligent reportage and literary merit. I cannot help but think that Page had the right idea in allying himself with a thoughtful broadsheet, and that Pete and Roger have missed a trick by not doing something similar. Elsewhere in my Who posts on Just Backdated I posit the view that The Who were far more ‘honourable’ than Led Zeppelin to the concept of rock as a force which might put across beneficial messages and far more politically correct, and intelligent, in their music and attitudes. I still believe that, but reading this interview yesterday made me wonder: Who (The Fuck) Are You?