Roger n’ Me: a jacket, a girl and lifelong memory
Ian Harvey/Principal Curator
It’s not every day a bona fide Rock Star taps you on the shoulder and compliments you on your jacket.
And it’s not every day that a Rock Star then asks you, very politely, whether he can borrow said jacket for the filming of a video for the famed forerunner of Much Music, the UK BBC show, Top of the Pops.
I can’t say Roger Daltrey and me are best mates, LOL, but we definitely shared a moment, and it’s preserved on the Internet. Yes, that Roger, you know, the golden-maned lead singer of The Who!
It’s the kind of story that still gets comments nearly six years after I posted it in a few paragraphs on the You Tube link to that video.
Not only that, the girl I was at the studio with that day tracked me down on Facebook 47 years later and we reconnected.
Let me explain. In 1972 I was a skinny 16-year-old kid from in South London who, like most blokes at that age, was always on the prowl to meet girls. At the time I was living with my uncle and aunt in Bexleyheath and somehow, not really sure how, I met up with the lovely Linda. We hit it off and a relationship started, such as relationships are between young teenagers, very intense and a lot of snogging.
Still, we had a few adventures, one of them coming about when her friend Helen scored tickets to the taping of the Who’s latest single Join Together.
No brainer, right? So I called up my best mate John, because her friend quite fancied him, and the four of us duly trooped up to north west London by train and tube and bus. I can’t quite remember where exactly except there was a suggestion they were shooting at an ITV studio because the last time the band filmed at the BBC studios they trashed the place and were banned.
So there’s a bunch of teenagers milling about in the studio with the stage all set up.
Keith Moon’s drums are there, Pete Townshend’s multiple stacks of HiWatt Amplifiers, John Entwistle’s set up on the other side and the lead mic, the cable gaffer taped to the body ready for Roger Daltrey to swing it around like a lasso, as was his signature move.
So, The Who comes on and they mime to the song. Then there’s break while they reposition the cameras and lights and they go again. And so it goes. I’d never been on a set so it was fascinating to see how things actually worked. There’s also a lot of standing around and waiting, as anyone who worked in video production will tell you.
During one of these breaks the four of us were clustered in front of the stage when there’s a tap on my shoulder.
I turn around and there, in his full 5’6″ glory is Roger Daltrey. Now, I’m a skinny 16 year old and I was probably about 5′ 7 or more and I ended up 5″ 8″ but he was a giant to me. And those blue eyes. Wow. Total Rock Star.
“Nice jacket mate,” he says in his west London accent, being born and bred in Hackney.
“Oh, yeah,” I stammer. “Me mum made it.”
Now the jacket in question is a bit unique. It was an army fatigue which I had nicked from the cadet corps at Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift (also just called Alleyn’s School) where I went to school in Dulwich. Surplus army jackets were all the rage at the time and it was rather cool.
I’d tried to dress it up by putting an iron on transfer on the back. However, I put the iron on too hot and scorched the material, weakening it so it ripped. My mum, the angel, took pity on my and being the skilled seamstress she was, sewed in a new lining across inside of the back and then took an old Bermuda souvenir T-towel of a British bulldog imposed on a Union Jack and expertly fitted it to the back.
“Borrow it?” I asked incredulously. This was way beyond cool. I was gonna be legend. Roger Daltrey wanted to borrow my jacket!!!
“Yeah, you know, for the shoot,” he says.
I start slipping off the jacket and mumble something about being a fanboy because their music is so unique and different and just nods. I was star-struck and, truth be told, what 16-year-old wouldn’t be?
He puts it on and tugs at it and nods. It fits!!
Then he puts his hands in the pockets and pulls out a bottle of yellow pills.
“What are these then, yellow perils?” he asks with a grin. Yellow Perils were a form of speed back then but that’s not what they were.
“They’re my anti-histimines,” I says, “I’ve got terrible hayfever (meaning allergies).”
He nods with a wink and I don’t think he believed me and he disappeared back into the crowd. We stood there dazed.
What just happened? Did Roger Daltrey really just appear and borrow my jacket? Fuck me. He did. He really fucking did.
And so it went. The band recorded the song and afterwards Roger came around with the jacket.
“Thanks mate,” he says and indulges us in some idle chit chat, asking us what kind of music we listen to and what we do for fun. He’s only about 12 years older than me so he would have been about 28 at the time.
“You wanna sell the jacket?” he asks. “I’ll give you 50 quid.”
Wow. £50 pounds. That’s £664 in 2020. Wow. To a 16-year-old kid it was a fortune. Enough to buy a really good bass guitar and decent amp and even maybe an car for when I could get my driver’s license six months later.
I thought about it. I really did.
“Nah, I can’t sell it, not now, not after this, Rog, but wow, thanks anyway,” I said. Okay, maybe I didn’t call him Rog but I definitely didn’t call him Mr. Daltrey.
And with that he shrugged, nodded and vanished into the milling mob.
“Should have taken the money,” says my mate John, ever the practical and sensible one.
I sigh. It was a lot of money. But some things are worth more than money.
That jacket has given me a lifetime of great memories aside from the fact I wore it out out after that, adding bits to it to cover up the tears and stains.
It taught me that Rock Gods are really just normal people. Years later I interviewed Keith Richards on an escalator after sort of ambushing him coming out of a restaurant. Like Roger Daltrey he was relaxed and chatted amiably about being in Toronto to renew his American visa and hoping to tour soon. Again, a Rock God being nice. I’m sure many are spoiled assholes but the ones I’ve met were always nice.
Aside from dining out in this story over the years and pulling out the jacket once in a while to show friends, a couple of other things have happened recently which prompted me to sit and write it out in full for the first time so I can include a couple of bookends to the story.
Roger autographed the back of the jacket and, of course, it was my prized possession for years. It was slightly diminished when my mum, God love her, threw it in the laundry “because it was filthy darling” and washed the signature out. I did try though my media contacts to arrange a quick meet and greet with Roger to get him to sign it again when he came through the Toronto area on tour but it never happened.
Shortly after that encounter with Roger in England my parents dragged me to Toronto, Canada where my dad had been given a new and quite prestigious position. I wasn’t happy about leaving England. It tore a chunk of my heart out. Not only did I have to leave the lovely Linda behind I also left behind all my friends, family and all the things I loved doing and the places I loved to go.
Not to mention there was no football in Canada and no Match of the Day, I was devastated.
Anyway, I corresponded with Linda as you do but that dropped off. I did manage to get back to England a few times and to try and stay but I couldn’t support my self and had to return to Toronto where I finished studying journalism and duly entered the newspaper business in 1977.
However, in 1976 I went back to England with my then girlfriend soon to be my wife and later my ex-wife LOL. I managed to get hold of Linda and we met up. It was a very heart wrenching experience for both of us. I couldn’t stay and really, all we had were memories of being 16 together.
I have to include this because we drifted away after that as you might expect.
However, the digital world is also a time machine.
That video of Join Together lurked on the nascent Internet back in the 1990s but it was such an awful quality copy you couldn’t make out anything, much less my jacket.
Then came You Tube and The Who posted it on their channel.
In 2014 I posted a comment retelling my story of the jacket in short form noting that as they carry Roger out on their shoulders you can see my jacket from the back at 3.43 seconds.
I had an amazing 62 replies. Most were salutary but a few called me a liar and said I was making it up.
And I’m still getting comments on that post and when I got another one this past week I thought it was a good opportunity to pull all the components of this story into one and post it here in Pitbullmedia.ca.
Finally, here’s the another little kick to the story of Roger n’ Me.
Back in August 2018 I got a PM on my Facebook page and when I opened it I just about fell off my chair.
It was the lovely Linda.
“Just watched Roger Daltrey wear your jacket Hi !!”
I have to say a lot of buried teenage angst came flooding back like a tsunami, leaving me reeling emotionally and, physically.
It turns out she’d been on the Who’s Facebook page where they’d posted the video. She watched and saw my jacket again and it triggered her to look me up. I’m not hard to find, especially since I’m all over Facebook and have my own website and my byline pops up on various publications’ websites.
We chatted online, made a couple of What’sApp calls and then a few months later I was back in England to reunite with my cousins from my mum’s side in Devon as they had come up from Australia to visit.
We were in Exeter and so I drove to Weymouth to meet Linda halfway and we had lunch and walked and talked for a few hours before heading our separate ways.
Funny how feelings which have no business being there suddenly pop to the forefront after being dormant for so long.
And all because that jacket and this story reignited something.
All in all I’d say it has all been worth a lot more than 600 quid.
Postscript: When you talk about seminal UK rockers, you’re talking about The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Cream and the Who.
The Who were important for many reasons but mostly it’s that explosive sound they generated. Keith Moon’s frenetic and unconventional drumming, Pete Townsend’s crashing power chords, Roger Daltrey’s soaring voice and John Entwistle’s thundering bass pulling it all together. Moon’s drumming wouldn’t have made sense without The Ox, aka Thunderfingers, and Townsend’s guitar wouldn’t have layered the same way. It was a unique sound which bridged youthful frustration in My Generation to ballads like Pinball Wizard through anthems like Baba O’Reilly and Won’t Get Fooled Again through angst in songs like Love Reign O’er Me.
Yet, strangely to my ear, they penned and sold pop rock singles like Happy Jack and Join Together, the latter not ranking among my favourite compositions.
It’s important to mention this because the Who were greater than the sum of their parts but for me, and despite my encounter with Roger, it’s Entwistle who is always my focus when I listen.
Here’s why. At the time I met Roger, I had just started to play bass guitar, having been playing Spanish guitar and wanting to join a band. The Ox wasn’t one of my bass idols at the time since initially I was drawn by Jack Bruce’s sound and style and later by Chris Squire during my prog rock phase. In fact my first bass guitar was a Gibson EB0 like Bruce’s and then a Rickenbacker like Squire’s.
Over the years I went through different basses until I found the Warwick 5 string Corvette and fell in love with it. Still, it was heavy to strap on for three one hour sets and I wanted something lighter but with a fast neck which the Warwick has.
By this time my knowledge of bass players and sounds and styles had grown exponentially and I had gravitated to The Ox’s sound and style. To me it combined the best of bass playing with a great sound much like the Rickenbacker but with the percussion of Bruce.
Watching Entwistle play live the times I saw them in Toronto before his death in Las Vegas in 2002 (Cocaine and a hooker, what a way to go!) and listening to his grooves and isolated bass tracks I realized what a unique player he was. And when I got around to ordering a custom bass guitar I knew what I wanted, my version of his custom mash up of a Gibson explorer body and a Fender neck called the Explorerbird.
Later he had a versions made by Dean Guitars with the Tbird body and Fender style neck. I should also mention John pioneered the design and creation of Rotosound strings, round wound strings (as opposed to the flat wounds people used at the time) which gave him his signature sound so prominent on the bass solo fills on My Generation. It was truly unique and round wounds are the most popular bass string used today.
My custom 5 string bass has a Gibson Thunderbird body and a Warwick 5 string specification neck with custom Bartolini pick ups and is called the WarBird and was built as my homage to Entwistle style of play and his quest for the perfect bass.
22 thoughts on “Roger n’ Me: a jacket, a girl and lifelong memory”
Love this story! Completely engaging, transported me to my teens while reading it. Thx for you time machine.
Join Together is my favorite Who song and whenever I want to hear it, I go to YouTube and play the video from Top of the Pops, so I’ve seen it at least a hundred times. Had no idea of the back story on the jacket. – Michael Gregory California, USA
Very cool story! I’m curious, after moving to Toronto did Geddy Lee’s playing have any effect on your playing? You both list Bruce and Squire as major influences. Again, thanks for sharing your story, I’m pulling up the video now!
Yes and no. I saw Rush in their early days but I did not become a massive fan…that said I would add Geddy’s playing as one that did influence me in the same Chris Squire playing did…that bass can have a stronger voice within an ensemble, also the speed of his playing…but at some point I was listening to all kinds of bass players and just feeling, well, unworthy LOL.
Jaco, Tony Levin, Stanley Clarke (he was a big favourite during my prog rock phase)Boosty Collins.right through James Jamerson and more recently Tal Wilkenfeld ….I started to realize that there were musicians I could listen to and admire but in my own playing I had to find my own style, sound and groove…but when you think about it…..everything you hear, see and experience eventually works its way into your expressions….
Thanks for reading!!!
Great story. The Who to me was the quintessential rock band of their time. I’m basically the same age as you (born 1957) so your story brings me back, thanks!
thanks for reading!!! It’s not just the Roger connection it’s how this story has sustained over the decades and, reuniting with the Lovely Linda…which also inspired a song I’ve written and demo recorded and hoping one of the three bands I play in…might pick up as a regular on our set list…whenever we can get back to rehearsing and playing after C19!!
Great read! What a profond decision at 16. The joy that split second decision has given you to this day. Fantastic 👏. The best part, the role your Mom played in the story, and most importantly the role she played in your entire life. Thanks Mom.
My husband and I saw the Who in Tampa last year which was a thing for my bucket list. When they started playing I started crying. I did it. I actually made enough damn money to see the WHO and it was wonderful!!
He is one of my favorite singers. Number two to Robert Plant but number one performer of all. Truly one of the seminal vocalists in rock.
What a great story! I can see myself reacting the same way at the time of meeting Roger, and can easily imagine how that jacket played an important part in reconnecting with the obliviously lovely Linda! One important question I have for you though. Did you become a fan of Hockey 🏒? Because seriously it’s the coolest team sport (not Canadian, but from Upstate New York State, we have A LOT of ice here too. Hockey is more exciting than football (soccer)
LOL. Soccer finally came to Canada in a big way. And we started getting live satellite TV games.
C19 not withstanding I can watch soccer any time any day.
And I’m a season ticket holder at Toronto FC…have been since day 1.
Not really in to gridiron, ice hockey or basketball.
THanks for reading.
Great story Ian
Hope all is well with you and Suzzane
No Cozumel this winter
Super story, nice that it rounds up a piece off Who history and that you were a part of it. Rogers dresser for the day brill…
Great story Ian, I also have one on the day I met The Who while they were filming Tommy in Portsmouth I was an extra with some mates and I managed to bunk in round the back in Wesley Central Hall, they were filming the Sally Simpson part, I sat on the stairs listening to it and a door opened 1 flight up and someone coming down I thought omg security gonna chuck me out but no it was only Pete Townshend I just stood there mouth open but managed to ask ‘ sign this Pete’ the story book from Quadrophenia which he did and just said ‘good on yer’ then disappeared down the stairs, i then managed to meet up wiv my Mate Mick Keysel and we both bunked round the back wiv few others The Who were all standing against a wall, Mick strolled up to Roger and said ‘ere mate wanna buy a ticket for The Who playing live at Charlton FC the next week’ Roger looked at him straight and said ‘fuck off’ Mick just turned away wiv sloping shoulders. I think that was 1974. The Who greatest band ever.
Absolutely love this story and believe every word of it. Being the Roger fan that I am, I would have worn that jacket everyday and slept in it every night. That’s a cherished jacket and a cherished memory Ian.
I’ve met Roger several times, some encounters went off without a hitch, others were horribly botched by overzealous security. My first encounter was a quick handshake in 2007 outside the Paley Center in New York for the premiere of AMAZING JOURNEY: THE STORY OF THE WHO. My last was wrecked by a Jekyll-n-Hyde cuck who previously allowed me to present Roger a bouquet after the first set of his TOMMY show at Tanglewood a scant two years ago. Guess the guard didn’t recognize me from earlier that night.
But my good encounters were respectively in 2008 & 2011. The 2008 experience was after a Who show at Boston Garden. 2 friends managed to successfully sneak me backstage…and my dream came true! I spent a good 20 minutes with Roger Harry Daltrey, CBE, and he was as sweet as can be! For 2011, it was paid meet & greets for his TOMMY tour. Meet & greets are so much fun, albeit pricey.
Just wanted to share about meeting John Entwistle on his Mad Dog solo tour. D.A.R Constitution Hall in D.C. The show was far from a sell out. I couldn’t believe it. He played a great show. After his last song he let us know his feelings by slamming his bass to the stage. I met him afterwards at the hotel. I was working at record store and asked him to sign a couple copies of Mad Dog for me. He asked me if I’d like a beer and during the course of a couple we talked a bit about the Who,solo projects and bootleg recordings. In the end we agreed to disagree on the bootlegs. Good show . Good
conversation. Good people …and missed.
You should try to get Roger to resign your jacket, he’s probably unaware it survived these years.
LOL I tried when he came through on a solo tour. I got a contact through my media friends but they didn’t bother to respond.
Maybe one of his people will see this story and flag him.
I doubt it though. I’d love to get it resigned and then mounted in a glass frame!!!
Fantastic story, thank for sharing. My love of The Who goes way back. I first saw them during their first American tour in 1967 at a 200 seat arena in my hometown on Long Island. I was 15 years old and stood right at the front of the stage and my ears rang for the next 2 days. I now wear hearing aids thanks to my love of this band, lol. I turned my son onto them when he was quite young and he and I have gone to a few of their concerts, the last one last June. They’re a different band now, but they still play. Who music, so we’re happy. Daltry’s voice is still great (although he blew something out last year, fortunately it was at the end of the show). Pete’s voice was strong and his guitar playing was as good as ever. That vintage picture in the article? My wife had one framed for me for my birthday. I’ll love them until I die. Thanks again.
Saw the Who in ’75 while in high school and again last year with the Townsend and Daltrey show and was quiet impressed on how they still carry on with the Rock passion. Just shows it never dies and only gets stronger with age. Rock on Roger and Pete. Rock on everyone else!
Thank for sharing this amazing story. I saw the Who last May in Philadelphia. It was a beautiful spring evening and an awesome concert. The Who have always been my favorite band. The Kids are Alright was the first rock and roll album I ever owned, my brother bought it for me.