Roger Daltrey discovers he’s father of three more children he knew nothing about
On the morning of his 50th birthday, Roger Daltrey opened the post and saw a photograph of a stranger smiling back at him.
Immediately he saw the resemblance: the young woman was his daughter.
Two more women would, in time, contact him after finding the name of The Who’s frontman listed as their father on adoption papers.
Roger, now 74, had no idea they’d been born in the 1960s, sometime after the collapse of his first marriage but before he met his second wife.
He felt overwhelming joy at discovering them, sadness imagining their mums giving them away, and a natural instinct to warmly welcome all three “surprise kids” into his family.
“They all came into my life after my 50th birthday,” he says.
“It was great – it’s all worked out. They stay in touch and they’re close, so that’s great.
“I’ve tried to do my best about a situation that couldn’t change because it happened a long time ago.”
Roger’s other children are, Simon, 55, with his first wife Jackie; Mathias, 50, with Swedish model Elisabeth Aronsson; and Rosie, 46, Willow, 43, and Jamie, 37, with his second wife, model Heather Taylor.
Heather – immortalised by Jimi Hendrix as Foxy Lady in his futile attempt to woo her – is surely the most understanding wife in rock history.
Because during Roger’s wild touring years with The Who, he played away while she turned a blind eye.
“Heather is amazing. To find a woman who understood what this business was like, who I was and who we were, and to accept that and still want to be with me when I came home was a gift from the universe,” he says.
“Whether that’s an open marriage or just a matter of being honest with her, because I was never going to be the perfect husband in that sense. So when I come back off tours, we don’t talk about it. She accepted that.
And you can criticise it, you can say whatever. But all I can say is, whatever we did it worked because we’ve been together for 50 years and I’m starting to like it.”
Such unabashed honesty and aversion to convention are just some of the reasons Roger has reigned as one of rock’s most charismatic frontmen for five decades.
He founded The Who by recruiting friends at Acton County Grammar School, West London, John Entwistle and Pete Townshend, then later hyperactive drummer Keith Moon.
They were musical geniuses who created the first rock opera Tommy, cult film Quadrophenia and sold over 100 million records worldwide.
Onstage, they were dynamite – electrifying Woodstock and demolishing studio sets.
Off stage they were just as explosive, driving cars into swimming pools and hurling TV sets through windows.
It all makes for an incredible memoir, which he insisted on penning strictly on his terms.
“I’ve been offered huge amounts for my life story but always turned it down,” he explains.
“You can’t take a dollop of money in a contract because then you’re under pressure from publishers who say, ‘I want more of this, more of that’. I wanted my book, my story, my title, my cover. And that’s what this is.”
The title Thanks a Lot Mr Kibblewhite is a message to Roger’s former headteacher who expelled him over an incident involving an air gun.
He was happy to be booted from the school he hated because it propelled him into the rock world.
Now, chatting over a cuppa in a London hotel room which echoes with his booming and infectious laugh, Roger wants to set the record straight about some of The Who’s legendary fights.
“A lot that’s recorded as Who history is wrong. Like my fight with Keith Moon in Aarhus,” he says.
“We had a fight alright,” says Roger, deadpan. “But it wasn’t in Aarhus [Denmark]. We had a riot in Aarhus with 5,000 p***ed-up farmers.
“My fight with Keith Moon happened the next night in Aalborg.”
And the 5ft 7in giant of rock insists the reason he knocked out Pete Townshend was not because he had called him “a little f***er” during filming of Quadrophenia, but because they’d rowed about the crew.
“The little f***er didn’t bother me at all. I AM a little f***er,” says Roger, hooting with laughter.
The Who tore up the rulebook, flicked two fingers at the establishment and told anyone trying to tame them to f-f-fade away. They racked up so many hotel repair bills they returned from world tours broke.
These days Roger defiantly refuses to even look like he should for a man of his generation, with his thick bouncy curls and gym-sculpted body.
And he’s not too high and mighty to be above doing his own chores either. Because when it comes to taking up hems of each new pair of trousers, he does the job himself.
As a teen he learned to use his mother’s sewing machine to “adapt” pals’ school uniforms, transforming baggy trousers into drain pipes for a few quid.
And he created his iconic Indian brave outfit for The Who’s 1975 tour by whizzing a few chamois leathers from his local garage through her machine.
“I can still sew but the trouble is, I need an old Singer machine,” he says. “My wife bought me a new one and I can’t work it. I’m not very good at keeping up with modern stuff.
“I like to do my own trousers because I can still do my trousers better than anyone else.”
Roger, who has earned a £100million fortune, also apparently does biographies better than anyone else.
His is full of the most colourful stories.
There are insights, such as his unusual views on marriage: “Sexual infidelity should never be a reason for divorce. For a man, it’s mostly just a sh*g, unless you fall in love.”
Jaw-dropping moments, like his meeting with Ronnie Kray in Broadmoor. “He looked like Aristotle Onasis by then, and had this little voice saying, ‘And how’s your mum?’”.
Hilarities are provided by Moon. “He would make you laugh, and keep laughing, and keep pushing buttons until you had to leave the room because you laughed so hard you ached.”
But there are also tragedies, like the death of 11 fans during their concert in Cincinnati.
Moon died aged 32 after overdosing on sedatives in 1978. And Entwistle was found dead at 57 in a suite at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas in 2002 from a heart attack following a cocaine-fuelled romp with a stripper.
Then came the scandal of Townshend’s arrest on child porn charges which were later dropped. “I knew, the moment I saw Pete stare straight into the TV camera, that he was entirely innocent,” says Roger.
“And I was right.”
Most of all, love for his family shines through the book which is dedicated to Heather.
Roger says: “When I left my first wife Jackie to follow my dream, I was correct in my behaviour even though it felt terrible to do it and deeply upset my parents.
“In my head, what was going on was, ‘If I can make this work, I can look after everyone in my family – Jackie, Simon my son, Mum, Dad, everyone. I can give them all a better life’.
“And that’s what happened. But to do what I had to do was very, very hard. And I had to be a s**t to do it.
“I’m very close to Simon now. Jackie married again and had two other kids. The whole tribe of us used to go on holiday together.”
He adds: “So yes, I made mistakes. Yes, I was an a***hole. But I learned from it.
"And I became the person I am today which is a totally different character than it was all those years ago.”
Thanks A Lot Mr Kibblewhite: My Story by Roger Daltrey (Blink Publishing) is out 18th October, also as an ebook and audiobook.
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