Connecting The Dots: Six Degrees Of Roger Daltrey's Solo Career!

Quick, can you name the title of Roger Daltrey's only U.S. Top 20 single as a solo artist?

Now, while you mull that one over, let's explore the fact that the singer for one of the biggest bands in the world has only one solo hit to his credit despite a lengthy and varied solo discography that took place, for the most part, while said band was still very much at the top of their game.

With a couple months of down-time in Who-ville, Daltrey embarked upon his first solo excursion in 1973.  Entitled Daltrey, the album was largely co-written by producer David Courtney and a then-unknown Leo "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" Sayer.

Yes, THAT Leo Sayer.  The same Leo Sayer who would release his first solo single that same year, lending creedence to the saying "Never call your first solo single 'Why Is Everybody Going Home?'"

He would quickly slap on some clown make-up, issue the aptly-titled "The Show Must Go On", and enjoy a whirlwind rocket ride to #2 in the UK.  Ah, those crazy Brits.

But how did an unknown Leo Sayer end up writing an entire album for one of the greatest front men in rock? Enter Adam Faith, the producer of Daltrey, who, up to then, had been best-known in the UK as a teen idol and would later go on to shag married tennis star Chris Evert.

In 1973, however, Faith was trying to forge a career as an artist manager and who should be his main client but one Leo Sayer?   Funny how these things work.

The first single from Daltrey, "Giving It All Away", would later pop up on Sayer's second album, Just A Boy, but was not a hit.  Sayer would hit #1 twice in the U.S.; first with "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" in '76, can you name the second?

Undaunted by the underperformance of his solo debut, Daltrey released Ride A Rock Horse in 1975 and threw in a nice picture of him as a centaur (half man, half horse) on the cover.  The album was produced byRUss Ballard, so beginning his lengthy career as a producer and songwriter for solo artists from bigger bands who are not songwriters themselves.  The best example of this would be ABBA singer Frida's "I Know There's Something Going On", produced by Phil Collins.

Ballard had been guitarist for Argent, but before that he'd been a member of The Roulettes, who backed Adam Faith on their first major tour, developing a friendship with the pop idol that would lead to Ballard involvement in the recording of Daltrey's first two solo albums.
Can you name the song Ballard wrote for the band America that would become their hghest charting hit in the '80s?

Ride The Rock Horse peaked at #28 in the U.S. despite the horrible cover, but the album's sole single "Come And Get Your Love" stalled at #68.

For Daltrey's third solo album, 1977's One of The Boys, producer David Courney had a wide array of submitted material to work from, including songs written especially for Daltrey by the likes of Colin Blunstone ("Single Man's Dilemme") and some bloke by the name of Paul McCartney ("Giddy").  MCA Records, in their infinite wisdom, would release neither as a single.  In fact, the album's most notable track, and a New Zealand Top 20 hit for Daltrey, was "Say It Ain't So, Joe", which was written by Murray Head.

Can you name the title of Head's biggest single as a solo artist?

Incredulous at the lack of commercial success, Daltrey pulled out all the stops for McVicar, an album that acted as soundrack to the film of the same name in which he starred.  He enlisted every living member of The Who to play on the album, even though none of them had any involvement in the songwriting.  That's right, if you're going to have Pete Townshend play on your solo album after the first three flopped, whatever you do, don't let him write any songs!

Still, McVicar was often referred to as an unofficial Who album, as die-hard fans were looking for anything to hang their hat on after the death of Keith Moon.  The album did include Daltrey's sole Top 20 solo hit, "Without Your Love".

1984's Parting Should Be Painless was a directionless pastiche of outside contributions valiantly roped together by producer Mike Thorne, who had been instrumental in bringing the Sex Pistols to EMI as an A&R rep.  He then moved into production and helmed post-punk gems by the likes of Wire (Chairs Missing) Holly & The Italians (The Right To Be Italian), Urban Verbs, the Shirts, and A Flock of Seagulls.

Can you name Thorne's highest-charting single as a producer?

For 1985's Under A Raging Moon, Daltrey again enlisted bandmate Pete Townshend and, this time, he musta told the guitarist to bring a song or two.  Townshend obliged and the resulting track "After The Fire", which was featured prominently in an episode of "Miami Vice", but even that could not jettison the song into the Top 40, peaking at #48.

As for 1987's Can't Wait To See The Movie, which was produced by Alan Shacklock and David Foster, among others, the less said the better.  1992's Rocks In The Head saw Daltrey co-writing seven songs and even resorting to cutting a track written by his daughter.

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