Roger Daltrey Once Knocked Out Pete Townshend in Front of a Record Exec
By Andrew Magnotta
October 24, 2018
Though horrified at the time, in retrospect Daltrey seems proud of his display of martial arts.
There were plenty of witnesses to support Daltrey's plea of self-defense, but replacing The Who guitarist weeks before one of its most important tours would have been a preposterous challenge.
The two came to blows at The Who's rehearsal space as tensions rose during the making of a promotional film in advance of the tour. The whole ordeal was taking too long and Daltrey says he began to complain. That didn't sit well with Townshend, who Daltrey says had already drank more than half a bottle of brandy by himself.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame front man recalls the incident in an excerpt from his memoir, Thanks a Lot Mr. Kibblewhite: My Story, released via Vulture.
"He was up in my face, prodding me," Daltrey writes. "'You'll do what you're f---ing well told,' he sneered. This is not the way to talk to me, but I still backed off. The roadies knew what I was capable of so they sprang into action and held me back. 'Let him go!' screamed Peter. 'I'll kill the little f---er.' They let me go."
"Next thing I knew, he's swung a 24-pound Les Paul guitar at me. It whistled past my ear and glanced off my shoulder, very nearly brining a much earlier end to The Who. I still hadn't retaliated, but I was beginning to feel quite put out. He's called me a little f---er, after all ... [After] another left hook narrowly dodged, I replied with an uppercut to the jaw. Pete went up and backward like he's been poleaxed. And then he fell down hard, cracking his head to the stage. I though I'd killed him."
To make the ugly incident that much more complicated, one of the executives from The Who's new U.S. record label had just turned up at the studio, Daltrey says.
"The bigwig's first sight of his big new signing was of the lead vocalist knocking the lead guitarist out cold. 'My God,' said the horrified MD. 'Is it always like this?'
"'No,' said Keith [Moon]. 'Today is one of their better days.'"
Daltrey says he rode to the hospital with Townshend, feeling guilty and responsible for the fight, even though Townshend had asked for it.
While it wasn't the last fight between the two, it was the most physical. Daltrey says they've since reconciled, but Townshend insists he still bears scars from the melee.
"For the rest of my life I've had to listen to him blaming me for the bald spot on the top of his head."
Thanks a Lot Mr. Kibblewhite: My Story is available now.
Photo: Getty Images