This Month in Music: Daltrey goes it alone

By Lee Zimmerman

Despite the fact that fissures had developed within the Who’s ranks long before its release, Roger Daltrey’s first solo album – simply titled Daltrey – was never intended as a final declaration of independence. Yet, at a time when solo albums were relatively rare — especially from members of long-established outifits — Daltrey was a dramatic statement of singular purpose from an artist who had, up until this point anyway, never stepped out from beneath the band’s shadow. Daltrey’s songwriting contributions to the Who had been relatively rare, limited to only three compositions — the band’s second single, “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere” (a singular co-write with Pete Townshend) and the underrated B side, “Here For More,” chief among them.

Released on April 13, 1973, the third individual outing from the Who stable following solo releases from both Townshend and bassist John Entwistle, Daltrey remains the best of his solo cannon, although he’d release eight others in the decades that followed. Recorded during a rare hiatus, it not only helped elevate his singular profile, but also introduced the world to budding songwriter Leo Sayer, who co-wrote the majority of the material with Dave Courtney and would soon go on to a prolific hit-making career of his own. It also gave a nod to a past chart champ, Adam Faith, a former British pop idol who took on the role of producer. Russ Ballard, a essential member of Argent who would later take a solo turn of his own, also aided with the relatively sedate arrangements, providing an introspective sound which shaped Daltrey’s image and identity well apart from that of the Who.

The album produced a top five U.K. single in “Giving It All Away,” a song of yearning reflection as equally suited to Daltrey’s emotive wail as it would be to Sayer’s more tentative delivery later on. The album would later go on to chart in the Top 50 in the U.S. and subsequently yield the single “Thinking” backed by “There Is Love,” later included as a bonus track when the album was reissued on CD. Interestingly, the sleeve itself attracted nearly as much attention as the album’s contents, picturing Daltrey’s wide-eyed, bushy-haired Adonis image (effectively imbued though his role as Tommy’s namesake protagonist) and a more reflective photo in the inner sleeve.

Daltrey would work with the Who throughout their collective career, up until the present in fact, but he continued to invest himself in outside projects all the while. He received a Golden Globe nomination for his role in Ken Russell’s film version of Tommy, and reteamed with the director for Lisztomania, adding writing and performing credits to the film’s soundtrack. He produced and starred in the film McVicar in 1980 and when the Who broke up two years later, he continued to indulge his acting ambitions, taking roles in the The Beggar’s Opera and The Comedy of Errors for the BBC, as well as the theatrical productions The Hunting of the Snark (1987), The Little Match Girl (1987), Buddy’s Song (1990) and Mack the Knife (1990). The Who’s reunion tour in 1989 didn’t hinder his musical efforts either, a trajectory that culminated with the album A Celebration: The Music Of Pete Townshend and The Who, an extraneous attempt to cash in on the band’s legacy.

Nevertheless, Daltrey’s eponymous debut remains the singer’s definitive solo statement, an album that sounds just as satisfying today.

Other early April highlights in music history:
* The device that started it all: first auto-change gramophone is introduced by HMV — April 1, 1928
* The gigs that started it all: Beatles began a three- month residency at The Top Ten Club, Hamburg. They played for seven hours a night on weekdays and eight hours on weekends with a fifteen-minute break every hour – April 1, 1961
* The “Woodstock” movie premiered in Hollywood – April 1, 1970
* The Who sold out of all 80,000 seats in 60 hours for Madison Square Garden, a record of the time. – April 1, 1970
* What’s going on? Marvin Gaye is shot to death by his father during an argument, one day before his 45th birthday – April 1, 1970
* The first edition of new music show “Ready Steady Goes Live!” was shown on UK TV – April 2, 1965
* Taking the right of way: Steve Winwood left the Spencer Davis Group to form Traffic – April 2, 1967
* The Beatles finished recording the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, later to become the biggest selling album of the 60′s in the UK – April 2, 1967
* Bob Dylan made his first entry into the UK charts with his single “The Times They Are A-Changin” – April 3, 1964
* Jim Morrison turns himself over to the FBI in Los Angeles. Charged with an inter-state flight to avoid prosecution on six charges of lewd behavior and public exposure at a concert in Miami on 2 March 1969, he is later released on $2000 bail – April 3, 1970
* Be careful what you wish for! Daniel Emmett introduced “I Wish I was in Dixie’s Land.” About two years later the song became the Civil War song of the Confederacy – April 4, 1858
* The Beatles held the top five places in the U.S. singles chart — at number 5 with “Please Please Me,” at Number 4 with “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” at number 3 with “Roll Over Beethoven,” at number 2 with “Love Me Do” and at number 1 (drum roll please) with “Can’t Buy Me Love” – April 4, 1964
* Duran Duran made their live debut at The Lecture Theatre, Birmingham Polytechnic – April 4, 1978
* An estimated 5,000 radio stations around the globe simultaneously played “We Are the World.” The song is recorded by a collection of recording artists, USA for Africa, to raise money to feed starving people in Africa and the United States – April 4,1984
* Pink Floyd announced founder Syd Barrett had officially left the group. Barrett was suffering from psychiatric disorders compounded by drug use – April 5, 1968
* Pete Quaife leaves the Kinks, and is by replaced by John ‘Dalton – April 6, 1969
* He’s not so vain. Carly Simon was introduced to James Taylor after her show at the Troubadour, Los Angeles. The couple married on 3rd November 1972 — April 6, 1971
* Satisfaction at last. The Rolling Stones launched their own record label, ‘Rolling Stones Records’, with a million deal with Atlantic Records – April 6, 1971
* Radio gets its groove on. American CBS begin broadcasting the first national R&B show – Rock and Roll Dance Party, with Alan Freed – April 7, 1956
* Mick Jagger and Keith Richards met Brian Jones for the first time, at Ealing Jazz Club, Brian was calling himself Elmo Lewis and playing guitar with Paul Jones * April 7, 1961
* San Francisco DJ, Tom Donahue invent the progressive music format on KPMX. Itthe best of the day’s rock and roll, folk, traditional and city blues, reggae, electronic music and some jazz and classical selections – April 7, 1967
* They got to go go. Wham! became the first western pop group to perform live in China, when they played at the workers gymnasium in Beijing – April 7, 1985
* Huh? BBC banned the song “100 Pounds of Clay” because it had reference to woman being created from building materials, considered to be blasphemous. The song reached No. 9 in the UK charts by April 20th – April 8, 1961
* Damned are the first UK punk band to play the States – April 8, 1977
* Electrician Gary Smith, who was working at Kurt Cobain’s house in Seattle, discovered Cobain’s body lying on the floor in the greenhouse. Local radio station KXRX broke the news at 9.40am that Kurt is dead. A shotgun was found next to Cobain’s body. He had committed suicide three days before – April 8, 1994
* Gene Vincent records “Bebop-A-Lula” – April 9, 1956
* Bruce Johnston joined the Beach Boys as the permanent replacement for Brian Wilson – April 9, 1965
* Queen, newly signed to EMI played their debut performance at the Marquee Club in London – April 9, 1973
* Oh, you naughty things! 53 year-old Rolling Stone rocker, Bill Wyman announced his forthcoming marriage to 19 year-old Mandy Smith after the couple had been dating for six years. Bill’s 30-year-old son Stephen later married Mandy’s mother, age 46 – April 9, 1989
* Let it be. Paul McCartney announces he’s quit the Beatles with no future plans to record or appear with the band again or to write any music ever again with John Lennon – April 10, 1970
* Peter Frampton went to number one on the American album charts with Frampton Comes Alive, the biggest selling ‘live’ album in rock history – April 10, 1976
* UK music weekly The Melody Maker reviewed a Sex Pistols gig with the words, “I hope we shall hear no more of them!” – April 10, 1976
* Bob Dylan plays his first ‘professional’ gig at Gerde’s Folk City. He opened for John Lee Hooker and sings ‘House of the Rising Sun’ and ‘Song to Woody’. Joan Baez cheers him on from the audience – April 11, 1961
* The tune that started it all. Bill Haley and the Comets record “Rock Around the Clock” at Pythian Temple on West Wide of New City – April 12, 1954
* Dead Man’s Curve. Jan Berry of Jan and Dean suffers the car crash that ends his career, when driving his white Corvette in Los Angeles following news that he’s been drafted – April 12, 1966
* The Rolling Stones perform behind Iron Curtain for the first time at the Palace of Culture, Warsaw. Police use tear gas to subdue 2,000 fans April 13, 1967
* That’s the word. The musical Grease closed after 3,388 performances in New York, having grossed over $8 million. It was nominated for seven Tony Awards but won none – April 13, 1980
* Long time gone. David Crosby was arrested when police found him preparing cocaine backstage in his dressing room before a show in Dallas – April 13, 1982
* Call Uncle John! Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” hits the top of the U.S. R&B chart – April 14, 1956
* Every disaster should be so fortunate. Hyped as ‘the most significant talent since the Beatles, Polydor releases Bee Gees’ “New York Mining Disaster” – April 14, 1967
1969 – * The Beatles record their first stereo single, “The Ballad Of John and Yoko,” although only two members of the band are present, Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Paul played bass, drums and piano while John played guitar – April 14, 1969
* After weeks of speculation, a Rolling Stones press release confirmed that Ron Wood would be joining the band for their American tour. There had been rumors that Jimmy Page, Steve Marriott, Jeff Beck or Chris Spedding might replace departing guitarist Mick Taylor – April 14, 1975
* Michael Jackson’s Thriller logs 37th week at number 1 in the U.S. – the longest run in pop history – April 14, 1984
* What’s that sound? Buffalo Springfield performed for the first time as the support act for the Byrds in San Bernadino, California – April 15, 1966

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