Roger Daltrey revealed that he tapped into his childhood experiences and traumas to embody the character of Tommy in the Who's 1969 album and 1975 film. Daltrey revealed to Yahoo Entertainment, "I had a terrible time at school. I was bullied. And then I learned to fight back, kind of hanging on by a thread in a lot of ways. But it was a tough time, and I'll never forget that. I call those my 'Tommy years.' I think back to my teenage years, that is my Tommy period. I felt as though I wasn't heard, I felt I wasn't seen, I felt completely isolated. I had no voice. So it's just a metaphor — deaf, dumb, and blind was a metaphor for that."
He added: "My teenage years had been very, very, very traumatic in a lot of ways. I was very lonely. I had the band, which was all I ever wanted to do. . . but all the rest of the time, I had a terrible loneliness."
Although Roger Daltrey was no teetotaler on the road, he avoided the pitfalls his bandmates, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon — struggled with, if need died from, explaining, "I got lucky in San Francisco in 1967, when the drug thing had stopped being just a bit of pot and it was just starting to get into the chemicals. I had become very good friends with a guy called Owsley (Stanley) who was producing all the Purple Haze (LSD) at the time. He's dead now. And he said to me, 'Whatever you do, Roger, I've watched you, I know your personality — just never take chemicals. You'll destroy you.' And I listened. I don't know why I listened, but this statement stayed with me. The others went out and did the chemicals like no tomorrow."
Although the Who’s life on the road is legendary — and by all accounts a blast no matter which way you cut it — Roger Daltrey maintained that he wasn’t able to truly let his hair down in fear of the whole operation collapsing without someone keeping on the straight and narrow: ["I was the only straight one. Someone had to be straight in the band, ‘cause I was dealing with one alcoholic — probably drug addict — in Keith, (laughs) Pete was an alcoholic, (laughs) John was an alcoholic. So, I mean someone has to be straight. The only drug I could do was pot, and I didn’t do that every often ‘cause I couldn’t sing on it ‘cause it dries your throat up. So, it kept me away from it. I was very, very lucky."] SOUNDCUE (:20 OC: . . . very, very lucky)
Roger Daltrey On Staying Sober In The Who :