When Pete Townshend Downgraded Roger Daltrey’s Songwriting

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Two of the most significant figures in the annals of rock music are Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey. They contributed to the development of rock music in the 1960s and beyond as members of the renowned band The Who. The Who stood out from other bands of their era thanks to Townshend’s creative guitar work and Daltrey’s potent singing. The band’s stage presence and live shows were legendary, and Daltrey’s microphone swing and Townshend’s trademark windmill guitar move both became enduring icons of rock and roll.

Although Daltrey has also added to songs with lyrics, he was the voice that The Who as a band was instantly associated with. Although there were numerous instances when they didn’t agree on the music or the lyrics, the duo, who both have remarkably large personalities, has continued to work together for decades.

It’s quite understandable that there is sarcasm and wordplay involved in some of the comments the two musicians make about one another, especially regarding their songwriting abilities, given the relationship the two musicians have developed over the years and the fact that they have given similar interviews for many years.

Daltrey revealed that he was one of the few people to oppose Townshend regarding the music they released by using his vocal to make it sound like a Who song rather than a Pete one in an interview with Montreal Gazette in 2003. When the same interviewer had the opportunity to speak with Townshend in 2006, he inquired about Daltrey’s remarks as well as what characteristics distinguish a Who track.

The guitarist stated that the tracks have The Who sound because of Daltrey’s voice. He also admitted that Daltrey could only wish to come up with something even slightly sensible and that he was the only one who was capable of writing a Who song. Pete Townshend said,

“In this case, it is me working almost alone in my home studio and Roger adding his vocals when I’m done because that is how this record was made. That sounds sarcastic. I’m not sure what Roger means, but I know his work singing my songs is always powerful, surprising, extending, and heartfelt. Roger’s performance and interpretation of my songs give it that final Who stamp. But no one can write a Who song but me. John Entwistle was the only other serious contender. Roger dreams of writing a great Who song one day. Maybe I will need to sing it for him.”

Mind you, despite Townshend’s sarcastic tone, the pair had previously collaborated on a recording. It’s interesting to note that the only song the pair ever accidentally collaborated on was 1965’s “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere.” During a rehearsal for a show at the Marquee Club, a spontaneous collaboration took place. In the end, it comes down to giving and taking, particularly in a band where one member may occasionally fail and the other band members support one another for the benefit of the whole.

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