Why The Who’s Roger Daltrey Felt Threatened By The Punk Bands

Change is inevitable in music. New genres rise, old ones evolve, and sometimes, there’s a clash between established and emerging sounds. This clash often leads to reactions from artists who’ve long defined their music within a particular genre. One such musical face-off occurred during the late 1970s when punk rock shook the world—even figures like Roger Daltrey from the Who felt its impact.

Daltrey’s experience with punk started with the song ‘Who Are You?’ and was a rollercoaster of emotions. In 2015, the frontman opened up about his early encounters with the punk movement during an interview with Uncut. It was here that he revealed how punk had initially made him feel threatened. Roger noted:

“We were getting incredible accolades from some of the new punk bands. They were saying how much they loved the Who, that we were the only band they’d leave alive after they’d taken out the rest of the establishment! But I felt very threatened by the punk thing at first. To me, it was like, ‘Well, they think they’re f*cking tough, but we’re f*cking tougher.’ It unsettled me in my vocals.”

Feeling The Punk Impact

Daltrey went on to explain how his unease found its expression in ‘Who Are You?’:

“When I listen back to ‘Who Are You?’ I can hear that it made me incredibly aggressive. But that’s what that song was about. Being pissed and aggressive and a c*nt! It was only a few years after that I realized what a great favor punk did the business. We toured with the Clash in 1982, we took them to the US with us, and I used to f*cking love watching ’em. I’m still a huge Joe Strummer fan.”

Daltrey On Punk’s Positive Influence

It seems like the singer’s perception of punk underwent a transformation over time. In 1977, speaking to Rolling Stone, he acknowledged that the upsurge of enthusiasm and anger among English punk bands had brought about a significant shift. He added:

“It’s taken the pressure off us in a way. We’ll still be aggressive, but maybe we can explore other areas of music we’ve never dared to up until now. If we look old now it’s because we’ve been waving the f*cking flag for the last 15 years. We were the punks of the Sixties. They’re like I was; I was trying to find me. I’ve found me now; it’s not perfect, but I’m very happy.”

Daltrey then appreciated that the essence of punk lies in its anger and social critique. He acknowledged the issues that fueled the punk movement, such as unemployment and societal inequalities.