The Who’s Roger Daltrey Says Touring Too Expensive and Risky — ‘We Cannot Get Insured’

The Who Roger Daltrey touring comments
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The Who Roger Daltrey touring comments
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Photo Credit: Raph_PH / CC by 2.0

“Touring has become very difficult since COVID,” says Roger Daltrey, explaining why it’s doubtful The Who will tour America again. “We cannot get insured.”

In his recent interview with USA Today, Roger Daltrey gets into the nitty gritty of touring and why it’s doubtful The Who will “ever come back to tour America.” Between the astronomical costs in a post-COVID landscape and the band’s members getting up in years — Daltrey turns 80 this year — the logistics of a US tour aren’t worth the risk.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever come back to tour America,” says Daltrey. “I never say never, but at the moment, it’s very doubtful.”

“Touring has become very difficult since COVID. We cannot get insured, and most of the big bands doing arena shows, by the time they do their first show and rehearsals and get the staging and crew together, all the buses and hotels, you’re upwards (of) $600,000 to a million in the hole,” Daltrey explains. 

“To earn that back, if you’re doing a 12-show run, you don’t start to near it back until the seventh or eighth show. That’s just how the business works. The trouble now is if you get COVID after the first show, you’ve (lost) that money.”

Meanwhile, Daltrey says the band is playing better than ever. “The Who has always been best as a live group, and we’re still flying the flag for that, and I think we’re still doing a good job of it.”

“I’m proud that our music has come of age, and I think you could say this is the most modern classical music out there,” Daltrey posits. “When I did the classical version of ‘Tommy’ (in 2019), I realized ‘Tommy’ is one of the best operas ever written. Underneath those classic rock songs he wrote, Pete (Townshend) always wrote in a classical form.”

Roger Daltrey says the “most important thing” in listening to The Who with Orchestra: Live at Wembley — the first time the group headlined Wembley in 40 years — is to hear it on vinyl on a stereo system.

“That’s when you get the total benefit of real instruments. There’s something about a real instrument, the way it reacts with a human ear and the human body; it creates a whole different feel to synthesized instruments,” he says. “You can have synthesized strings, but it won’t do the same to your emotion as a proper violin or proper cello would. There’s something about a real orchestra that makes your hair stand on end.”