Why are you?

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Perhaps that's why Townshend's and Daltrey's solo careers seem so insignificant in comparison to The Who; theirs is a rock-and-roll legacy that erases everything else that stands in its shadow. Like Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, even Paul McCartney and John Lennon, they could hardly exist without each other once the partnership began to wither. Only Townshend's Empty Glass feels at all relevant 18 years after its release; the rest, from All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes to the ridiculous concept album Psychoderelict, are so pompous, pretentious, and dreary, they make you wonder why in God's name Townshend ever got into rock and roll in the first place.

Daltrey, try as he might, wouldn't fare much better: When he decided to go solo, the best songwriters he could come up with were Leo Sayer and Russ Ballard. In the end, Townshend would write Roger's best-known solo hit, "After the Fire," and again, the two were one. Daltrey still wishes he could have had the opportunity to record a handful of Townshend's solo songs, but only as The Who. He's convinced they needed his voice, that band, to make them whole.

"When I listen to his solo records since The Who went into semi-retirement," says Daltrey, "I must say there's nothing he couldn't have done better with The Who. There's nothing any of us couldn't have done better with The Who. It was a stupid move to get rid of that brand name, and I think if you take the best of his two or three solo albums released since The Who folded and made one great Who album, it would have been a real classic."

Daltrey says he doesn't know whether he will ever record another solo record; he has a label deal, but not the material. He would, of course, love to do another Who album, especially with Starkey as the drummer--Daltrey never made a secret of his unhappiness when Kenny Jones replaced the late Keith Moon on 1981's Face Dances. But again, he reminds, the decision is not his to make.

"Who knows what Pete will want to do next," Daltrey says. "He's the kind of guy who will ring up and say, 'C'mon, Rog, let's do something new.' But it has to be Pete. He has to be the one who wants to do it. And you never know. That's the problem. I love the group. Pete loves...Pete."

The British Rock Symphony, featuring Roger Daltrey, will perform August 1 at the Bronco Bowl.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky