When Pete Townshend Belittled Roger Daltrey’s Songwriting

The Who‘s Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey have significantly impacted the rock world with what they brought to the scene, both individually and together as bandmates. Townshend has always been known for his guitar playing, alongside his songwriting skills that laid down the groundwork for The Who’s signature sound, which has influenced many musicians coming up in the scene.

While Daltrey has also contributed to songs with lyrics, he was the voice everyone associated with The Who as a band from a mile away. The duo, with remarkably huge personalities, have maintained their collaboration for decades even though there were more than a few occasions when they didn’t see eye to eye regarding music or the lyrics.

So considering the relationship the two musicians have built over the years, it’s quite understandable that there is sarcasm and playing with words involved in some of their comments about each other, especially regarding their songwriting abilities, since they have given similar interviews for many years. While some interviews revolve around complimenting each other on what they bring to the band, in others, they jokingly poke fun at each other.

For instance, when Montreal Gazette did an interview with Daltrey in 2003, the singer had explained that he was one of the only people to stand up to Townshend regarding the music they release by putting his voice to make it sound like a Who song rather than a Pete one. When the same interviewer had the chance to interview Townshend in 2006, he asked about what makes a signature Who track and about Daltrey’s comments.

The guitarist and lyricist explained that Daltrey’s voice gives the tracks The Who sound they always aim for. He also revealed that he was the only one that could write a Who track and that Daltrey could only wish to come up with anything remotely reasonable.

Pete Townshend’s words about Roger Daltrey’s songwriting skills:

“In this case, it is me working almost alone in my home studio and Roger adding his vocals when I’m done because that is how this record was made. That sounds sarcastic. I’m not sure what Roger means, but I know his work singing my songs is always powerful, surprising, extending, and heartfelt. Roger’s performance and interpretation of my songs give it that final Who stamp. But no one can write a Who song but me. John Entwistle was the only other serious contender. Roger dreams of writing a great Who song one day. Maybe I will need to sing it for him.”

Despite the sarcastic tone of Townshend’s words, mind you, the duo had previously worked on a track together. Interestingly, the only ever track the duo worked on together by accident was none other than 1965’s ‘Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere.’ The spur-of-the-moment collaboration happened by chance during a rehearsal for a performance at the Marquee Club. Pete couldn’t come up with a bridge for the track, so Roger came up with his lyrics and added them to the song, making him the co-writer.

Daltrey had also previously admitted that Pete was a better songwriter than him, so in a sense, the guitarist’s words about him being the band’s lyricist are true. However, there was a rare occasion when Pete didn’t have the inspiration to finish the 1965 track ‘Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere,’ and they completed it together. So it’s about give and take, especially in a band, where sometimes one member might fall short, and as bandmates, they help each other for the greater good.