Who knew when I came to Washington, D.C. I would be attending a luncheon where two of the members of the greatest rock band of ALL TIME were speaking?
That’s right, on Tuesday, I attended a luncheon at the National Press Club where Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend gave a talk, and it was the best day I’ve had here, by far. Anything and everything else was eclipsed as soon as Pete bumped into me in the lobby.
The hectic day started with an over-crowded metro, forcing the entire class to take a bus ride all the way downtown, forcing our early morning speakers to wait almost an hour before they could speak to us. As soon as they finished, everything was Who mode. While talking to classmates in the lobby, waiting to get into the banquet room where our seats for lunch were, a man in a suit and sunglasses bumped into me; as I turned to apologize, I looked at him and immediately thought “OH MY GOD, THAT’S PETE TOWNSHEND.” I wasn’t entirely sure until he walked onstage, and then I freaked out.
Back tracking slightly, when we were allowed into the banquet room, we found our professor (former President of the Press Club) had gotten us front row tables. I made sure I was positioned to see directly to the podium and the long table where the speakers and their guests sit. They had the most adorable cookies sitting on a plate, all decorated for The Who.
Before Roger and Pete came in, they began to play songs by The Who, and I was the only one bouncing in my seat, but I really did not care. Then they came in, and the picture taking began. Pete sat on the other side of the podium where I couldn’t see him, but I had a direct line of sight for Roger. In fact, that awkward thing that happens when you’re looking around and you make eye contact with someone doing the same thing kept happening; I was just staring at Roger and he kept looking over at my area of the table. Hopefully I wasn’t creeping him out. Here’s a good one of Roger staring into my soul:
Roger spoke first on Teen Cancer America, an organization to get better facilities targeted to teens with cancer. He spoke on how there are pediatric hospitals and then the regular wards, yet no specialized center for teens. It’s something he’s already worked on in the UK, and is now bringing it to the US. He was so passionate about it, and quite an eloquent speaker; something you wouldn’t think he would be speaking about!
There was a Q&A portion, where Roger answered some questions, then Pete was brought up as well. He was hilarious, and when Roger took point on answering a question, he would make gestures and faces behind him. When Roger talked about a previous band he was in, Pete made a face and mouthed “THEY WERE RUBBISH.” It got the whole room laughing.
It was great to see how they were still great friends after all this time, and were so supportive of one another. They also treated us to some great stories; someone asked Roger if the “flying microphone” (when he used to swing his mic around onstage) actually had ever hit anyone, he laughed and said once, paused, and followed with “…but it was on purpose.” He then told us the story of a fan of the opening act for The Who at one concert was not enjoying their music, so threw a jagged edged coin at Roger’s face, causing him to bleed. He saw the audience member who had thrown it, so he swung the mic around, pointed at him, and threw the mic. Everyone in the room was stomping their feet with laughter.
Someone also asked Pete if he would be smashing any guitars at their show on Wednesday night; he said he never really thought about smashing them, it usually just happened. Pete ended with joking if anyone wanted to smash a guitar for charity, have him smash it and it would be worth money.
This was such a once in a lifetime experience; I was in the same room with members of one of my favorite bands. On our way out, we received a copy of the minutes of the talk, signed by Roger. Surprisingly it’s not a computer signature- he actually signed each and every copy. So now I have Roger Daltrey’s autograph!