The Event That Got Roger Daltrey Fired From The Who
Roger Daltrey on The Graham Norton Show, 2018 - Ovid / Youtube
The first single from The Who, titled “I Can’t Explain”, made its debut in the United Kingdom on January 15, 1965, followed by its release in the United States on February 13, 1965. This marked the beginning of the band’s journey into the spotlight, fueled by the distinctive compositions of guitarist Pete Townshend.
As the band’s popularity steadily grew in the UK, their Tuesday night performances at the Marquee played a central role in garnering attention. The turning point in The Who’s global recognition came with their early European tour later that year.
The international audience became captivated by the band’s electrifying performances and original sound, solidifying The Who as a powerhouse in the music industry. It was during this period that the band’s impact transcended national borders, establishing them as influential figures in the realm of rock and roll.
1965 was indeed their year, especially when “My Generation” came in and made them a household name. But their success almost deviated when they decided to kick out their vocalist, Roger Daltrey.
Keith Moon’s tragic personal struggles
The year was also a tumultuous year as it proved to be a harrowing chapter for The Who, marred by personal tribulations, internal power struggles, and the haunting specter of addiction. Within the band, guitarist Pete Townshend found an outlet for his frustrations by destructively tearing up his instruments, a symbolic manifestation of the turmoil within the group.
Denmark witnessed a particularly chaotic incident during one of The Who’s concerts, as the fervent audience caused significant damage to the stage. This incident underscored the intensity of the band’s performances and the fervor of their fan base, but also highlighted the chaotic nature of their live shows during this tumultuous period.
Yet, amidst the myriad challenges, it was the profound struggle with addiction, notably embodied by drummer Keith Moon, that cast the darkest shadow over The Who’s journey in 1965.
According to Daltrey, Moon’s battles with substance abuse emerged as the most serious and consequential issue faced by the group during this trying time. The internal dynamics of the band were further complicated by Moon’s personal struggles, adding a layer of complexity to The Who’s narrative during this challenging year.
The great drummer’s untimely death
Keith Moon grappled with alcoholism and drug addiction, sparking discord among the band members until his girlfriend, Annette Walter-Lax, discovered his lifeless body on September 7, 1978.
Moon’s demise was attributed to a fatal Heminevrin overdose, a medication he had turned to in an attempt to alleviate the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Tragically, the very remedy intended to assist him ultimately became the catalyst for his untimely death.
Prior to his unfortunate passing, Moon’s drug use had spiraled out of control, resulting in the notorious destruction of numerous hotel rooms. This reckless behavior not only generated financial woes for the band but also strained the group’s dynamics.
Daltrey held Moon accountable for not only his own substance abuse but also for providing drugs to fellow band members John Entwistle and Townshend, adversely affecting their musical performances. As the self-proclaimed leader of The Who, Daltrey grew increasingly frustrated with Moon’s and the others’ persistent drug abuse, reaching a point of exasperation with the toll it was taking on the band’s artistic integrity and professional standing.
Roger flushed Keith’s drug stash down the toilet
During the said Denmark concert, Daltrey took a decisive step to prevent Keith Moon from tarnishing the band’s reputation, actively seeking out Moon’s hidden drug stash. Upon discovering it, Daltrey took swift action, flushing the entire cache down the toilet, much to Moon’s evident frustration.
This incident escalated tensions between them, leading to an unavoidable confrontation. While it was widely acknowledged that Daltrey physically confronted Moon, the singer asserted that it was a justified response after Moon nearly blinded him with a tambourine.
“It took about five people to hold me off him. It wasn’t just because I hated him, it was just because I loved the band so much and thought it was being destroyed by those pills,” the frontman remembered.
Daltrey’s actions during this tumultuous episode underscored the depth of his commitment to preserving the integrity of The Who amidst the challenges posed by Moon’s struggles with substance abuse.
Daltrey was temporarily dismissed from The Who
Nevertheless, the rest of the band did not share the same perspective, leading to their decision to dismiss the singer following the physical altercation. However, this separation proved to be short-lived, as the band quickly realized the indispensable role Daltrey played.
Recognizing the need for his vocal prowess, they swiftly rehired him, and a mutual understanding emerged between the members.
In the aftermath, both parties agreed to demonstrate respect for one another. Daltrey committed to avoiding any further physical altercations, while the other band members accepted his condition of abstaining from drug use before their performances.
In a revealing statement from Roger Daltrey’s biography, Roger Daltrey: The Biography, it became evident that the vocalist’s actions during the incident with the late drummer were not driven by personal animosity. Instead, they were a proactive measure to protect The Who’s reputation, which Daltrey perceived as being threatened and eroded at the time.