Roger Daltrey Thought He’d Killed Pete Townshend in Fight
Roger Daltrey thought he’d killed Pete Townshend in a fight they had in 1973 while the Who were preparing for their Quadrophenia tour.
The singer recalled the episode in his memoir Thanks a Lot Mr. Kibblewhite, in an excerpt shared on Vulture. Daltrey said that tensions were rising in their rehearsal studio during the making of a promotional film, because it was taking too long to shoot, and he’d expressed his displeasure.
“Pete, fueled by the best part of a bottle of brandy, went off like a firecracker,” he wrote. “He was up in my face, prodding me. ‘You’ll do what you’re fucking 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 Pete. ‘I’ll kill the little fucker.’ They let me go.
“Next thing I knew, he’d swung a 24-pound Les Paul guitar at me. It whistled past my ear and glanced off my shoulder, very nearly bringing 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 fucker, after all. … [A]fter 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 thought I’d killed him.”
That was the moment that the boss of their new U.S. record label appeared in the studio. “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 accompanied Townshend in an ambulance to hospital, feeling “racked with guilt.” “I was the one who had been attacked, but somehow I ended up feeling responsible,” he recalled.
A full recovery was predicted and the pair made peace – for a time. “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,” Daltrey said.