ABOUT THE BOOK:
“It’s taken me three years to unpack the events of my life, to remember who did what when and why, to separate the myths from the reality, to unravel what really happened at the Holiday Inn on Keith Moon’s 21st birthday,” says Roger Daltrey, the powerhouse vocalist of The Who. The result of this introspection is a remarkable memoir, instantly captivating, funny and frank, chock-full of well-earned wisdom and one-of-kind anecdotes from a raucous life that spans a tumultuous time of change in Britain and America.
Born during the air bombing of London in 1944, Daltrey fought his way (literally) through school and poverty and began to assemble the band that would become The Who while working at a sheet metal factory in 1961. In Daltrey’s voice, the familiar stories—how they got into smashing up their kit, the infighting, Keith Moon’s antics—take on a new, intimate life. Also here is the creative journey through the unforgettable hits including My Generation, Substitute, Pinball Wizard, and the great albums, Who’s Next, Tommy, and Quadrophenia. Amidst all the music and mayhem, the drugs, the premature deaths, the ruined hotel rooms, Roger is our perfect narrator, remaining sober (relatively) and observant and determined to make The Who bigger and bigger. Not only his personal story, this is the definitive biography of The Who.
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Thanks a Lot, Mr. Kibblewhite: My Story by Roger Daltrey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thanks a Lot Mr. Kibblewhite by Roger Daltrey is a 2018 Henry Holt and Co. Publication.
“We’ll be fighting in the streets, with our children at our feet. And the morals that they worship will be gone. And the men who spurred us on, Sit in judgment of all wrong. They decide, and the shotgun sings the song.”
Roger Daltrey. He’s kind of an enigma, I think, or least to me he is. It seems every member of “The Who’ has commanded newspaper headlines over the years, everyone except Roger, that is. No insane antics or stage theatrics or ghastly criminal charges like those of Keith or Pete. Roger, by comparison, seems to be rather square. I honestly didn’t know a thing about him, other than what everyone else knows, which is centered around his career. I couldn’t have told you one single thing about his personal life. I didn’t even know the basics about him, like if he was married or had children, although I’d heard a few tales of his childhood where he had garnered a tough guy reputation. But the details of his upbringing were sketchy.
So, while I’ve become rather picky about memoirs, especially those written by rock stars, my curiosity about Roger Daltrey won the day.
I love ‘The Who’. Having formed in 1964, this is a group I’ve listened to my entire life. This is one of those enduring bands that have weathered many storms and survived over fifty years as a group. Incredible, when you think about it.
Not only has Roger witnessed some monumental historical events, he’s also been a participant in them. Having spent so many years behind that insular rock star barrier, Roger has become accustomed to a way of life most of us couldn’t relate to. That’s part of the reason these books are so alluring, I suppose. We hear stories about conflict within the band, we know Roger and Pete had their moments, we know about Keith Moon’s antics, and of John’s untimely death. But we still want a bird’s eye view, want to hear Roger’s side of the story, want to relive his glory days with him, take a trip down memory lane, and want to know more about the person behind the rock star persona.
Roger’s approach to his memoir is laid back and relaxed. He can be funny, charming, and witty, but does show a vulnerable side of himself on a very rare occasion. Despite spending over fifty years in a rock group, he still carries a blue collar, working class, chip on his shoulder. He’s capable of sensitivity and spoke with some candor regarding childhood and school days, traumas, which left emotional scars he battled much of his adult life, hiding his lack of confidence behind a tough exterior.
“That was the point at which the headmaster, Mr. Kibblewhite, decided I was expelled. “We can’t control you, Daltrey”, he said. “You’re Out.”
And, as I left his office for the last time, a parting gesture: “You’ll never make anything of your life, Daltrey.”
“Thanks a lot, Mr. Kibblewhite, I thought.”
Yet, despite those rare glimpses inside of Roger’s more personal inner workings, the bulk of the book is centered on Roger’s professional life-the road to success, and all the various ups and downs of forming a band, maintaining the unit, and of course coping with the excesses of life on the road and the horrible tragedies the band endured. However, I never really felt the chemistry between Roger and his band-mates, other than a poignant story he shared about Keith shortly before his death.
Roger’s personal relationships with friends, colleagues, and women also lacked warmth or depth. There was one point in the book where, despite knowing this is normal operating procedure for rock stars, I still balked, and yes, passed judgments, on Roger’s view of fidelity or his case- infidelity.
What he described was a one-sided open marriage. He was not to be expected to be ‘a good boy’ while on the road, because it gets lonely out there. I wondered if his wife got lonely during his long absences, and if she were expected to be ‘a good girl’ while he was away or if she was free to engage in emotion-less hookups too. I mean, according to Roger, a shag is just a shag. A bit of a double standard there, I think.
But this was not the only area in which Roger showed his age. It was a bit ironic that one of the ‘My Generation’ performers sounded very old-fashioned at times.
Occasionally Roger would bait the reader with information, only to never mention the subject again or to toss it out as an aside, when it clearly deserved more attention and time than he gave it. The book comes in at less than three hundred pages, which is awfully thin, when there is obviously so much ground to cover, both personally and professionally.
Still, as far as rock memoirs go, this one is not too shabby. Roger is articulate and plain spoken, and as a performer, he knew how to keep the reader’s attention. The material is well-organized, and he does hit upon the major events that shaped his life and career, which for the casual fan will certainly suffice. Diehard fans will be pleased with anything Roger puts out there, but others, like myself, may wish there had been a little more bulk and depth than was provided.
One thing I was reminded of, however, is how compared to many other people in his line of work, Roger is very dependable and is a solid performer. He may not have the artistic flair of Pete Townshend, but he puts everything into his shows, has an admirable work ethic, is a highly energetic singer, and a really nice set of pipes. He grew to be a versatile, multi-talented artist in his own right, not only as the ‘The Who’frontman, but with other groups, and in his acting roles. He’s a superstar rock star all the way from the top of those luscious curly locks to the tips of his toes.
Roger has recently experienced some health problems, and is feeling the effects of his age, but he’s still sharp as ever, and still performs with ‘The Who’ on occasion His most recent show took place just this past summer.
One can’t help but feel awed by the longevity of the group, and Roger’s stamina. His body of work is impressive, as is the mark he’s made on the world of music and the arts.
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