Original Quadrophenia era saw the Who devolve into a nasty tangle: ‘He was very, very drunk’

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As the Who gears up for another series of shows featuring Quadrophenia, beginning on June 8, 2013 at Dublin, it’s worth remembering that things haven’t always gone so well for Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend.

In fact, during rehearsals for the original tour of this 1973 opus, with a film crew there to document things, the two actually — and now quite famously — came to blows. “It was a very silly little row,” Daltrey says, in a new video interview with Howard Stern. “I think Pete was just getting to the end of the second bottle of brandy.”

Just before a run through of the album’s anthematic tune “Love Reign O’er Me,” Daltrey complained about an inattentive camera operator — and Townshend charged in on their behalf. Daltrey, a former street-tough dropout, proceeded to knock his lead guitarist to the floor.

“He came over and started poking at me in the chest,” Daltrey says. “He was very, very drunk. And then he tried to hit me with a guitar — well, he tried to hit me. It glanced off my shoulder; I ducked it. … Ultimately, what happened was, he was totally off balance. Then he started throwing punches and Pete, bless him, he writes great songs — but never get in the ring, Pete. He threw a right, and it went past, and I dodged. Then it was the perfect upper cut, and all of the energy was connected in the right place — and I really did think that I killed him.”

Of course, they patched things up: “It’s like brothers,” Daltrey says. In fact, they’ve learned to laugh about the whole thing. “He blamed me for years that I created the bald spot on the back of his head — from where he hit the floor,” Daltrey jokes.

Called the “Quadrophenia and More Tour,” this new jaunt is actually the Who’s third to feature their 1973 rock opera. Daltrey and Co. played this album in its entirety during a 1996-97 tour, as well. The original LP matched the Who’s highest-ever U.S. chart position, going to No. 2 behind Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

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