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The Who’s Roger Daltrey at 80: “I have to be realistic. I’m on my way out”

The Who’s Roger Daltrey has reflected on recently turning 80, saying that “he has to be realistic” and that he is “on the way out”. 

Writing in a “backstage diary” for The Times, the iconic singer expressed his desire to slow down, after recently wrapping up his last year as the active curator of the Teenage Cancer Trust series of shows. 

“I have to be realistic,” he wrote. “I’m on my way out. The average life expectancy is 83 and with a bit of luck I’ll make that, but we need someone else to drive things.” 

“I’m not leaving TCT – I’ve been a patron since I first met the charity’s founders, Dr Adrian and Myrna Whiteson, more than 30 years ago – and that will continue, but I’ll be working in the back room, talking to the government, rattling cages.” 

Roger Daltrey. (Photo by Katja Ogrin/Redferns)

He also opened up about feeling nerves ahead of his recent shows: “We haven’t done anything for seven months and this winter’s been brutal. I’ve been in hibernation. For the whole of January, I lost my voice completely.” 

“I live like a monk and if I went on tour for a week I’d be fit as a butcher’s dog again, but tonight, for the first time in my career, I think, ‘Blimey, this is hard.’” 

It comes after Daltrey recently announced a new “semi-acoustic” solo tour of North America, which will take place across nine dates in June. Any remaining tickets can be found here. 

In January, Daltrey gave an interview about the future of The Who, in which he said he was “happy” that “that part of my life is over”, before clarifying that ultimately any decision about calling it a day would have to be made alongside Pete Townshend. 

Daltrey confirmed he was standing down at the curator for the Teenage Cancer Trust’s concert series in January, having helmed the project for 24 years. To mark the occasion, he rounded off the series himself with a show on March 24. 

Paul McCartney and Nile Rodgers sent a video message thanking Daltrey for his work with the non-profit organisation. McCartney introduced himself as “Paul here, your friend of a million years,” before going on to include a song in his speech. 

“Thank you for your 24 years of incredible service to Teenage Cancer. You’ve made so many kids happy and healthier and all of us connected with it want to thank you, so much,” he began. “So what we say is… [sings] thank you Roger, thank you so, you’re a hero and you better know… That’s one of the best songs I’ve ever written.” 

The Who opened the TCT’s series this year with a huge orchestral show, with revised arrangements of tracks such as ‘Pinball Wizard’, ‘Overture’ and ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ from 1969 rock opera ‘Tommy’. 

NME spoke to Daltrey in March 2023 about his work for the TCT, where he said the money raised had funded 29 age-specific specialist units in NHS hospitals across the UK. “We’ve done remarkably well, but it’s not to say we can’t do better,” he explained. 

Daltrey will still be an Honorary Patron of the charity, despite stepping down as curator of its annual concert series. 

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