May 14, 2012

Glory Road: Roger Daltrey


Jessica: In the early days of rock and roll, three bands topped the charts and became legends: The Beatles, The Rolling Atones and The Who.

Pinball Wizard.”

Jessica: Who?

Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

Jessica: The Who. Even if you don’t know who they are, you have definitely heard their music opening the TV drama CSI.

Who Are You?

Jessica: In the 1960s, The Who became the voice for a generation of teenagers who felt their struggles were being ignored — struggles for civil rights and against the Vietnam War.

Roger Daltrey: There’s something about the noise we made… it’s timeless. It was ahead of its time yet again it’s still of its time today. Weird.

Jessica: But before becoming a rock icon, The Who’s lead singer, Roger Daltrey, was just a kid from the suburbs of London.

Daltrey: At the age of 12 or 13, I saw elvis presley. And I thought, that looks like a damn good job. So, that’s what I’m going to do. You know, we were so poor I bought some materials and made a guitar and started to learn to play it. That guitar was good enough to teach me three chords and how to tune it. It was more like playing a cheese grater. I was determined to become a musician and do what I do.

Jessica: The Who rocked it at the legendary outdoor concert Woodstock in 1969.

See Me Feel Me.”

Jessica: Racking up hit after hit, and despite the deaths of two band members years ago, Daltrey and songwriter/guitarist Pete Townshend still perform. Sometimes together, like at the Superbowl halftime show in 2010, and sometimes solo, like Daltrey rocking out on Jimmy Kimmel Live earlier this month.

“Singing on Jimmy Kimmel.”

Jessica: Daltrey has been honored both for his music and his good works. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Daltrey: The whole rock business was founded on the support of teenagers. I owe my privileged life to the support of teenagers.

Jessica: And now it is his turn to support teenagers. Daltrey is the driving force behind a cancer program just for teens at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. Teens with cancer can get treatment while still living like a normal teenager.

Daltrey: Cancer is such a pernicious disease. And teenagers get such a rough end of it.

Jessica: Daltrey has opened twenty similar cancer units in the United Kingdom. Teens facing this devastating disease can hang out, go through treatment together and just be themselves.

Daltrey: You see medical stuff, you’re like, ‘Aww! What tests am I going to take?’ But if you see a pool table, you’re more relaxed, ‘Oh, you know, I can be myself.’

Jessica: Teens are even helping design the center.

“Maybe a juice bar.”

Daltrey: They feel isolated and may feel like they’re the only ones who have cancer and are going through this experience. So, we’re trying to create that environment so they’re together.

Jessica: That is Daltrey’s goal. He is inspired by stories of young survivors.

Daltrey: I have a young friend down in the Carolinas. Her name is Sarah Sterner and she’s a drummer. And she was diagnosed with brain tumors at 15 years old. And she got through her operation. Now she’s 18 and is one of our ambassadors.

Jessica: Now, Roger Daltrey’s legacy isn’t only stellar album sales…

Daltrey: Teenagers always get forgotten. They always get forgotten. And this seems to be something that can be fixed and should be fixed, and improve the lives of thousands of teenagers. And can be fixed even in my lifetime.

Jessica: His legacy is about showing who cares.


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