Roger Daltrey says the messianic lead character in the Who's Tommy would have the draw of a reality star today. Daltrey has just released his latest solo album, the live collection, The Who's Tommy Orchestral. The concert set was recorded in Budapest and Bethel in upstate New York — the scene of the first Woodstock festival 50 years ago.
In an interview with Vice.com, Daltrey maintained that the story of the “deaf, dumb, and blind” pinball champion resonates just as strongly with society 50 years after its initial release, explaining, “To me it's every bit as relevant. The more I've lived with it, the more I've come to realize it’s about the human condition. And worshiping false heroes. And today with social media and that, it seems to be more prevalent than ever with the worshiping of false heroes. Tommy would be one of the Kardashians now. Tammy! (Laughs) Why I'm pleased with this is because the audience went absolutely bananas when they heard it and I thought this is still touching people. 14,000 people turned up to see me on my own! I thought it was crazy, but there's something within that piece that resonates with people and moves them.”
Daltrey shed light on the fact that there's at least something in Pete Townshend's story of Tommy that's able to connect with everyone at some point: “Those characters in Tommy are just metaphors for different parts of our society that we live in. And I don't care who you are, you can be the hardest bastard on the planet, but one day in your life you will sit there saying, 'see me, feel me, touch me, heal me' feeling sorry for yourself. There's a vulnerability that that music and those words create.”
We caught up with Roger Daltrey and asked him the reasons behind the Who making Tommy their first double album set in 1969: “Mostly because when we recorded the record it was going to be a single album. And then we thought: 'We can't make this really gel unless we go into two albums.' When we went into two albums — in those days, cut vinyl, y'know, you needed to even out the sides for the cutting so you're never over 20 minutes per side of an album. And we were left with a nine-minute slot that was empty (laughs). So we cobbled together loads of bits from 'Sparks' and things like that, bits of jamming and stuff, which became the 'Underture.'”