Usually rock bands are a group of friends, who become famous, fight over power and money and wind up hating each other, especially when they have to hang up their pride in order to put on a smile during their cash in reunion tour. I’d give anything to be a fly on the wall backstage at those David Lee Roth Van Halen shows. In the old days, it would be fun just to watch them party, but somehow thinking of all the cool fights they are still probably having I’m almost prefer to witness those.
As I was watching VH1’s Who Rock Honors show, I again thought that it’s pretty amazing that two guys that always pretty much hated each other now seem so loving and appreciative towards each other. I’m talking about The Who’s Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey. It apparently happened in the wake of Townshend’s unfortunate child porn scandal. Roger, who has always pretty much been the epitome of “He may drive me crazy, but you don’t mess with someone in my crew!” guy, stepped up and vigorously defended his one surviving partner, and Townshend appreciated it so much that if you see them on stage or being interviewed together it’s a bigger love fest than Deep Throat was.
Pete will talk about how no one could have interpreted his songs better than Roger. Roger says I’m just honored to be able to sing them. The even have this Abbott and Costello kind of comedic banter going on stage as two old guys who have been through all the wars together and have a bunch of great stories to tell, and of course they do.
The Who are one of the rare bands in Rock History where the singer had almost nothing to do with writing the band’s lyrics. Townshend can sing, but his voice doesn’t have the mean swagger of his guitar work. So he had to trust Daltrey with the creations that he’d ferociously had given birth too, Daltrey had to accept that even though he was the front man that the band would never be led by his vision.
There was a part of the Who’s first final show in Toronto in 1982, where Roger Daltry’s microphone cord and become tangled up with Townshend’s guitar cords. As Roger desperately tried to sing and untangle a complex knot at the same time, you can see that Townshend did absolutely nothing to help Roger, in fact, he almost spitefully seemed to be contemptuous enjoying Daltrey’s struggle as he did absolutely nothing to help his partner. Now Pete would stop the song, hug Roger and untangle the cord for him.
It doesn’t really fit their ” ‘Orrible ‘OO” rep of anger and aggression, but it warms my heart and makes me feel good.
That doesn’t mean that I enjoyed their nostalgic Tea and Theater all that much, but they’ve given enough blood to the cause that they deserve the right to a peaceful friendly final act.