This year’s special guest at graduation was none other than The Who front man Roger Daltrey. Whilst here, he spoke to first year Music Journalism student Jules Pestano about his visit to BIMM Brighton, his role as Patron of Teenage Cancer Trust and memories of playing our great city.
Tell us about your relationship with BIMM?
Every time I visit one of the schools it’s always been a really fun time. It’s great to see all those young enthusiastic faces entering this kind of very precarious but incredibly rewarding business. And I just hope that the majority of them do well. If they give it their best shot, you never know. Even the ones that think they’re going to be managers or those who end up as guitar techs or roadies, they will be in the business.
As part of your work with Teenage Cancer Trust you organise a big concert every year in the Royal Albert Hall. Tell us about that.
When we started we had six very small spaces and by 2000, we’d got six hospital wards. They were going to pull down two of the hospitals in 2000 so The Who played a show at the Albert Hall with guests such as Eddie Vedder, Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller. We did shows on two consecutive nights and we donated the total proceeds from the show, the DVD and the live album. I am determined that no one over the age of 13 should ever be in a hospital ward with children.
So what will The Who be doing at the Royal Albert Hall in March?
We’re doing two nights and we’ve got some very special guests. We’re going to do an acoustic version of Tommy – well, we’re going to try! I did Tommy for the Teenage Cancer Trust a few years ago and we rehearsed it acoustically and it really did sound amazing. It will be an interesting night, and certainly a little bit of a departure for us.
Are there any plans to do more shows?
No, I just concentrate on this one week as it’s our flagship. The press are generous to us and they always review the shows. And everyone works for free, except the roadies. Every artist does it completely for nothing. This business has been incredibly generous.
What about other charity work?
We started a charity called The Double O in 1976. It was a charity to give refuge to women that were in abusive relationships, We did a whole tour of football stadiums including Charlton and Parkhead in Glasgow. We raised a bucket load of money and gave it to charities that we thought were great ideas. One was Nordoff Robbins, which is to do with autism, teaching autistic children through music. Nordoff Robbins today is a huge worldwide charity.
How did you find your relationship with the mod movement?
We were just like every other blues band out there - long hair, beards the whole bloody scruffy lot. But there was something different about The Who especially after Keith Moon joined the band. We had a drummer that played like no other drummer and a bass player and a guitarist that played the bass and guitar like the drums. I had this enormous, incredibly loud voice, so we were always a bit different. The mathematics of our band was very different.
Our manager at the time, Peter Meaden, said that we had to be mods because everybody’s into blues. There’s a message: always dare to be different. So we all walked into this barbershop as longhaired Rolling Stones lookalikes and walked out as mods. It was as simple as that. We started inventing looks. I bought a zoot suit and the guys all wore crew necked jumpers. Our music had an aggression to it, it was blokes’ music, so that’s how we came to be a mod band. We weren’t real mods, we were wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Which gigs do you remember in Brighton?
I remember at the end of 1963, we played The Hippodrome and supported people like Dusty Springfield and Gerry and the Pacemakers. We were first on the bill. We even supported the Beatles once in Blackpool. By the time it was 1964 we were starting to get on the middle of the bill, which was quite good. Then 1965 was a bonanza year for us. Our debut album, My Generation, was released with all those great singles on it, like My Generation and Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere.
Was there any rivalry between you and the other blues, mod and RnB bands in the 60s?
There was and there wasn’t, because we were all so different. When you listen to all those bands of that period like The Stones and The Beatles, they all had their sound and their style. All our styles were very different, so there was a kind of competitive spirit but it was also incredibly cohesive. We all used to mix and go to the same clubs.
Caption: Clockwise from top left: Performing with The Who for Teenage Cancer Trust; with bandmate Pete Townshend; talking to BIMM students; with BIMM Principal, Vaseema Hamilton; on stage with The Who; with interviewer Jules Pestano
A question of Trust
Teenage Cancer Trust has a long history of working with the music industry to raise funds and awareness. Since 2000, Teenage Cancer Trust have hosted some of the biggest artists in the world at the Royal Albert Hall. Curated by their Honorary Patron Roger Daltrey OBE, these shows have seen performances from the likes of The Who, Paul McCartney, Coldplay, Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher and The Cure with NME, Absolute Radio and Metro offering media support. The charity have also partnered with various music industry companies like Academy Music Group, Sony Music, PPL and The Groucho to raise funds through events and staff fundraising. Teenage Cancer Trust works with many festivals to raise vital funds such as Download Festival, Bloodstock Open Air, Wireless, Vans Warped Tour and Slam Dunk Festival.
For more on Teenage Cancer Trust please go to www.teenagecancertrust.org