Roger Daltrey says Jimi Hendrix stole Pete Townshend’s stage act

Jimi Hendrix Roger Daltrey Pete Townshend
(Image credit: David Redfern/Redferns; Gus Stewart/Getty Images; Ed Perlstein/Redferns/Getty Images)

The Who’s Roger Daltrey has accused Jimi Hendrix of “completely stealing” Pete Townshend’s stage act, and having enjoyed a ringside seat when two of the greatest players ever to pick up the electric guitar were making their bones, he would be in a position to know.

Daltrey was sitting down with The Coda Collection for a career-spanning interview, when he made the claim – in good humour, it has to be said – but he offered an almighty caveat: that neither invented firebrand guitar hero stagecraft. That honour goes to the blues great Buddy Guy, whom Daltrey not only considers the pioneer of guitar showmanship, but the greatest male blues singer of all time.

“I’ve always stuck up for Pete,” said Daltrey. “Jimi stole Pete's stage act completely, which incidentally, I think he did. But there again, I’m sure Jimi had seen Buddy Guy previously, as I am sure Pete had seen Buddy Guy, and embellished it.”

On Guy, Daltrey was fulsome in his praise. He is peerless. “You watch Buddy Guy in the early days,” he said. “You have to really look for the inventor of all that stuff. It was probably Buddy Guy… I take my hat off to Buddy Guy and he deserves the accolade and I just love him.”

Daltrey discussed a number of issues, proclaiming himself “the number one hater of the internet,” talking about how he often felt belittled as a singer, and opened up about the heated arguments he had with the band when their use of amphetamines affected their performance.

“For them to take it before a show was a complete no-no because here was this brilliant band of musicians,” said Daltrey. “Townshend was an absolute original on the guitar. Entwistle was an original on the bass. What can you say more about Moon [than] being totally original? 

“When they got on the amphetamines, the music just turned to a load of crap. The songs were too fast. When rock gets too fast, it’s not rooted. The band thinks it’s good because they’re all, ‘Oh yeah, we'll speed it up.’ But when you listen back to it you go, ‘Yeah, but it’s come off the ground. It’s not slamming to the floor.’ That’s what was happening.”

Daltrey also admitted being envious of Robert Plant, whom he said had some “time to relax” during Led Zeppelin compositions, and weighing on Paul McCartney’s disparaging assessment of the Rolling Stones, he said “it’s like comparing cheese with apples.”

“They’re both very tasty, but the cheese does one thing and the apple does another,” said Daltrey. ‘I’ve always thought that you cannot take away the fact that Mick Jagger is still the number one rock and roll show. The only other people I'd put up against him would be perhaps James Brown, maybe Jerry Lee in his day, or Little Richard, but Mick Jagger, you’ve got to take your hat off to. He’s the number one rock and roll performer.”

Head over to The Coda Collection to watch Daltrey’s interview in full. 

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.