I've been a fan of a lot of music artists over the decades. For a lot of them I look back, and ask: Geez, what was I thinking? I can't say I'd be upset if I never heard another of their songs. Chicago. Fleetwood Mac. The Association. The Eagles.
But The Who is an exception. If anything, I'm a bigger fan now that I was back in the 60s-70s.
I have also, over the past few years, picked up the occasional memoir/autobiography by aging stars. At first, I thought I'd gather some insights into creative genius and the keys to fame and fortune.
But (as it turns out) the uniform message of these books is: these folks don't know how it happened. Luck is involved. A passionate attachment to the art, of course. Usually, substance abuse. Borderline mental illness. Also, getting suckered by thieving managers.
So anyway, I picked up Roger Daltrey's book at the Portsmouth Public Library. It's an interesting counterpoint to Pete Townshend's book, which I read last year. It seems to be an "as told to" book, a ghostwriter (I assume Matt Rudd, thanked in the endnotes) kind of arranging random thoughts in roughly chronological order.
Roger seems a lot more grounded than the other members of the band, mostly free of the drug abuse that killed Keith Moon and John Entwistle (and almost Pete, Roger claims).
Impressive: coming from a poor background, Roger built his first guitar. And his second.
Roger was not exactly an angel himself. His deviations from the straight and narrow were mostly sexual, meaningless hookups with convenient chicks on the road. (Generating at least one kid he finds out about much later.)
It's especially fun to read his tales of the making of Tommy, directed by Ken Russell. There's an "Acid Queen" scene where Roger, playing Tommy, is in a coffin. Hey, let's put snakes in there too!
Nope. How about butterflies?
As it turns out, both snakes and butterflies will pee and crap on you when in a coffin.
And they went with poppies instead.
The title: one of the defining incidents in Roger's life was getting expelled from school at age 15. He'd brought an airgun, one of his friends shot it off, the pellet ricocheted into another friend's eye causing him to lose sight in that eye). The headmaster, Mr. Kibblewhite, bidding him goodbye: "You'll never make anything of your life, Daltrey."
Oh, yeah? But who knows how things would have worked out if he hadn't been expelled? Roger's smart enough to know things would have been way different. And so the title isn't sarcastic. It's earnest.