RS: Another highlight on the Live At The Royal
Albert Hall DVD is a blistering version of "Won’t Get
Fooled Again" complete with guest guitarist Noel Gallagher from
"Won’t Get Fooled Again" has always been one of the
most controversial and electrifying songs the Who ever made and was a
fitting climax to the Who’s Next album. Hearing the song
today, the song’s lyrics seem almost prophetic considering what’s
going on in the world right now. How do you explain the song’s
RD: Unfortunately, we humans have a habit of repeating
history. We never seem to learn the lessons. That was written at the
time of Vietnam and all those things. It could have been written after
the first World War, after the second World War... Unfortunately we
keep going on repeating our mistakes, knowing the deep picture as
such, where these things start up, never really gets dealt with. It
always ends when people’s self interest is satisfied. And that’s
where (laughter) I think the problem lies.
RS: MCA recently reissued Live At Leeds as an
deluxe double CD with a previously unreleased performance of Tommy...
RD: The complete show, yeah.
RS: Live At Leeds has maintained it’s unique
stature as the greatest live album in rock history. I remember buying
the album when it came out over here the week of the Kent State
student killings in 1970. For me the album represented an
outlet for the anger, frustrations and fears of youth during the
Vietnam era of early ‘70s. How do you remember the Live At Leeds show
RD: It is very much an album of that period. Night
vigils, all those things... And there was that anger. And The Who I
think - because we were British, (and) kind of involved at a distance,
you might say - it didn’t affect us the same way it affected
American youth. Although we felt kind of obliged to kind of lead
though... I think what The Who did, we kind of pushed that anger into
our music. Where as alot of the bands were playing peace and love
songs, we did the angry ones and vented people’s spleens for them.
RS: The new Live At Leeds is now an expanded
double disc set. How do you feel about the concept of the expanded
double CD reissues of Who albums?
RD: I’m not against any of all of that. I mean we
are musicians, we produce music and I’m not going to criticize any
form of our music getting out there to people, to hear it, ‘cause
there’s always someone who hasn’t heard it and no matter how many
records you’ve sold and how many fans you’ve got and how many fans
you’ve lost or whatever, there’s always someone new who’s gonna
go ‘what is that?, I’m interested in that’. So I don’t
criticize any of it, I really don’t.
RS: How involved have you been in the reissues of The
Who’s back catalog?
RD: Hardly at all. I let them get on with it. I really
do. I think just as long as the sound quality and all that side of it
is good I don’t really mind what they do. And the same with
advertisements. We get asked all the time, ‘how do you feel about y’know
"Won’t Get Fooled Again" or "Baba O’Reilly" on
a commercial?’ I say, ‘Well I don’t really care because I’m
sure we sell as many records as they sell products they’re
advertising, so it doesn’t bother me. It really does not bother me.
As long as we are doing it. As long as it’s not a pastiche of The
Who doing it. That would bother me.
RS: Back in the early ‘60s when The Who were still
known as The Detours, you were the group’s lead guitar player.
RS: I know in 1959 your had an Epiphone guitar. Was
that the guitar you played back in The Detours?
RS: I know you play some acoustic guitar on the Who
DVD. Do you still like to play guitar?
RD: Oh I still play guitar quite a lot yeah.
RS: How many guitars do you have and do you have a
favorite current guitar?
RD: I play mostly acoustics these days. I’ve got a
(Gibson) J-200, I’ve got an old dobro. I’ve got a Fender Strat. I’m
going to go down to a three quarter size guitar. It might sound better
on stage, ‘cause Pete plays a J-200 and two together makes it...I
think you get more value out of two different size guitars.
RS: Regarding the possibility that The Who will be
gearing up for some recording sessions later in the year, John
Entwistle (recently quoted) said "We know the magic happens
onstage, but we haven't tried it in the studio yet. We're working so
well as a five-piece that we want to try to carry that onto the album
somehow." You yourself once said that ‘My big ambition in life
is to keep The Who together.’ After so many incredible years and
great albums what kind of album would you like to see the Who record
in these first years of the 21st Century?
RD: I just want to see us in a studio experimenting
and come out with something that we’re happy with. I’ve got no
preconceptions and I think the biggest thing stopping us from doing it
is basically fear...there’s alot of fear, of failure. That still
wouldn’t stop me...I’ll try anything. And obviously we can’t
ever fulfill everybody’s expectations. As long as we go in there
with an open mind, an open heart, and play like we play and have some
kind of idea of what we want to say in our songs and then let it flow.
Whatever you call it, call it magic or whatever...we’ve been given a
gift of chemistry between our characters and the way we play. If we go
in with that attitude it will happen and it will be great I’m sure
of it. It might be an album with a bloody orchestra, who knows? I don’t
care, I’ve got no preconceptions.
RS: 2001 is the 30th anniversary of the Who’s
Next album. The ‘69 to ‘71 period was such a magical time for
The Who. Do you agree with so many Who fans who refer to Who’s
Next as the greatest Who album?
RD: I don’t know if it was the ‘greatest’. I
think it was one of the best recorded albums. I think Quadrophenia in
some sense is as great. It’s not actually recorded as well. They’re
all good for different reasons. I don’t like to y’know... What
that period was was, ‘69-71 is where I actually found a voice to
sing Pete Townshend’s songs in a way that really made us unique.
Before that, I was struggling to find the voice for the songs. ‘Cause
I was a blues singer, I was a James Brown, Muddy Waters, Howlin’
Wolf type singer. And I didn’t know how to put a (drift) to those
songs and I was kind of groping in the dark. Between that period of
time I found a voice and the band completely jelled, that’s when it
kind of sparked into the band it is today.
RS: One of my favorite Who songs from that period was
the song "Water". Your vocal on that was brilliant!
RD: We did that at the Metropolitan Opera House!
RS: Are there any other Who goodies from the archives
that may surface as CD reissues in the future?
RD: They managed to trace the original My
Generation album. That’s going to come out on CD.
RS: That’s the Shel Talmy tapes?
RD: Shel Talmy’s remixing it now. So that’s being
remixed. ‘Cos that’s a great album.
RS: Best of luck at the show, I know it’ll be great.
RD: We’re there for you, don’t worry!
RS: Roger, thanks again for speaking with me.
RD: Okay Robert, you be lucky mate!
Color photos of The Who at Madison Square
kind permission of FrankMicelotta / ImageDirect