The legendary singer who “frightened” Roger Daltrey

Roger Daltrey

Roger Daltrey, the frontman of The Who has had the opportunity to work with and share a bill with several superstars who transcend their chosen art form. As a result, Daltrey is a difficult customer to intimidate. It’s because he is accustomed to being in the company of greatness. But he is human and has occasionally felt starstruck.

After the success of The Who’s rock opera album, it was time to bring the project to the big screen. Daltrey’s management attempted to prevent him from playing the titular character in the film. Director Ken Russell convinced himself that he was the best choice for the role, and he didn’t consider anyone else.

Daltrey was well-known in the music industry at the time. But this did not necessarily translate into the film industry, where he was a complete novice. Fortunately, The Who frontman took to the craft like a duck to water. Tommy marked the beginning of an impressive acting career.

Russell’s production allowed him to learn from the best, as the project featured renowned actors such as Jack Nicholson and Oliver Reed. Tommy also worked with Eric Clapton, Elton John, and Robert Powell, but Tina Turner stood out the most.

In the film, Turner plays The Acid Queen. The soul icon had yet to break free from her abusive husband, Ike Turner. She has to establish herself as a solo star. But her performance in Tommy led to the subsequent album The Acid Queen, demonstrating that Tina was capable of going it alone.

While the acting role may appear insignificant in the context of Turner’s extraordinary career, it was very important to her. She later told the Harvard Business Review: “Acting in movies was always a big dream of mine. Even though I never expressed it outside of private prayers. It was a complete surprise when they asked me to play the lead in the rock opera film Tommy. That was a real dream come true, as was starring in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

Roger Daltrey later reflected on his collaboration with Turner during an appearance on BBC Radio 2. He went on to say: “I worked with Tina on Tommy. She played The Acid Queen and wanted to tell you, I was so much in character because I was playing this deaf, dumb, and blind kid.”

“I had to lay there for probably five or six hours on the floor with Tina standing over me while she was doing her song and for the life of me I can’t remember one piece of visual,” he said. “I was so frightened to even talk to her and I was such a big fan”.

After Turner died in 2023, Pete Townshend praised her performance in Tommy. He said, “The song is about abuse at the hands of an evil woman. How she turned the song on its head! All of her years as a victim erupted into fire and bluster. It was a magnificent and insane cameo role that will live on in my memory.

Turner did not have a starring role in Tommy. But she delivered a standout performance, demonstrating why she went on to become one of the world’s most successful artists.

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