H.E.A.R. Celebrates Pete Towndshend and Roger Daltry
THE KENNEDY CENTER HONORS PETE TOWNSHEND AND ROGER DALTRY
31st Annual Awards Gala
Sunday, December 7. 2008
Opera House, 7:00 p.m.
The 31st annual Kennedy Center Honors awards six performing arts icons for their lifetime contributions to American culture. The 2008 Honorees--Academy Award–winning actor Morgan Freeman; two-time Grammy-winning country singer George Jones; Grammy- and Oscar-winning director, actress, singer, writer, composer, and producer Barbra Streisand; Tony Award–winning choreographer Twyla Tharp; and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musicians Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey of The Who--are saluted by stars from the world of the performing arts at an invitation-only gala performance. The Honors Gala was attended by President of the United States George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, and broadcasted on CBS as a two-hour prime-time special on December 30 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend was born in 1945 in Chiswick, West London. He
came from a musical family, his father a saxophone player with the RAF's own Squadronaires, and his mother a professional singer. He began studying the piano but, after seeing the picture Rock
Around the Clock, his vocation was clear. He moved on from jazz to rock, arrived at the blues and took them to cool London clubs with a precocious lineup of John Entwistle first on trumpet and later on bass, Townshend on guitar, and Daltrey singing. Keith Moon joined them in 1964. That was The Who.
Townshend emerged as The Who’s spokesman, the articulate driving force behind what soon became one of the most powerful forces in rock and roll.His body or work, from “My Generation” and "I Can See for Miles," Tommy and beyond, announced to the world that this was not by any means just
another infantryman of the British Invasion. His leaps in the air, his windmill guitar style, his more than joining in on the destruction of instruments on stage, and most of all his furious, crunching power chords created a new rock syntax. In 1967, at the height of The Who's popularity, Townshend became a follower of the Indian avatar Meher Baba,whose gentle teachings inform the rocker’s music to this day.
Townshend’s own devotional albums are unique, from Who Came First and Happy Birthday and Rough Mix, right through Empty Glass, The Iron Man, and All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes.
Townshend, who suffers from partial deafness, provided the initial funding for the non-profit H.E.A.R. foundation (Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers).
He was the first prominent rock musician to donate his services to AmnestyInternational. His immortal Tommy won the 1993 Tony Award(r) for Best Original Score, also garnering the Grammy for Best Musical Show Album.
Roger Harry Daltrey was born in 1944 in Hammersmith and grew up in the working class London suburb of Acton. He attended Victoria Primary School and then Acton Grammar School for Boys, alongside Pete Townshend and John Entwistle. A born rebel, Daltrey found a home in music and made his first guitar from a block of wood, forming a skiffle band called The Detours. He got his first electric guitar in 1959, got in trouble in school, and was expelled. Pete Townshend recalled of his friend that "Roger has been a good pupil. Then he heard Elvis and transmogrified into a Teddy Boy with an electric guitar and a dress-sneer. Was it simply rock and roll? It was obvious to a young man as intelligent as Roger that there was no future in conforming any more."
Daltrey was a teenage dropout and sheet-metal worker when he brought together Entwistle and Townshend in the Shepherd’s Bush Youth Club in 1961, in effect forming the band that would become The Who. Daltrey was the front man, and his unstoppable energy then as often through the years drove the band’s elegant resolve. But Townshend became the leader, early on, The Who’s great songwriter. When songwriting itself grew more ambitious, Roger Daltrey became Tommy—play and player were one bare-chested sexy bundle of charisma and curls, with a distinctive voice rivaled by few in the history of popular music. He took that role to heart, on record, on tour, and in Ken Russell’s controversial movie that earned Daltrey a Golden Globe nomination in 1975. He went on to star in Russell’s outrageous Lisztomania, establishing a happy double routine of continuing his singing career with The Who while enjoying acting gigs including McVicar on the big screen, Lois & Clark on American television, The Beggars’ Opera and The Comedy of Errors for the BBC, The Hunting of the Snark in the West End, and A Christmas Carol at Madison Square Garden, where he played Scrooge in 1998. He has played Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar and Doolittle in My Fair Lady. What other rock star can claim such credits? Since 2000, Daltrey has been a patron of the Teenage Cancer Trust, for whom he began working by launching the event The Who & Friends at the Royal Albert Hall that raised more than $2.5 million in ticket, CD and DVD sales for the fight against cancer.