50 Years Ago: Roger Daltrey Punched by His Father-in-Law
Not getting along with one’s in-laws is nothing new — and neither are reports of rock stars stepping out on their spouses. But on August 11, 1964, the Who‘s Roger Daltrey reportedly brought the two together, getting punched in the process.
The fateful event occurred just before the band — then briefly known as the High Numbers — were scheduled to take the stage at the Railway Hotel in Harrow, England. Daltrey, who just months earlier had wed the 16-year-old Jacqueline Rickman, was already in hot water with his bride’s parents due to his dogged devotion to the band; in fact, he’d taken to sleeping in the band’s van rather than staying at home. As he later put it, “I knew that if I didn’t move away from her in those early days, I would be a sheet-metal worker for life.”
Given that his young wife was heavily pregnant with their first child, Simon, who’d be born on Aug. 22, it isn’t hard to understand why Daltrey might not be the most popular person with his father-in-law. On the other hand, Daltrey was also known as something of a brawler in those days, so you almost have to hand it to Jacqueline’s dad for reportedly showing up moments before the Railway gig and hauling the singer outside for a confrontation that ultimately ended in a fistfight.
“Roger’s father-in-law suddenly appeared just as they were about to go on, and dragged Roger outside and hit him. You see, Roger was the only one that was married, but I got the feeling that it wasn’t a very happy marriage. I think he was trying to get out of it,” recalled fellow musician Chris Downing.
“The casualty of our early success was my marriage. I’d got married because my wife-to-be was pregnant and it was the decent thing to do. But I was too young, too stupid and in a rock’n'roll band,” added Daltrey.
The gig went on, as evidenced by footage that turned up many years later and was incorporated into the documentary ‘Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who.’ Daltrey and Rickman’s marriage persevered for a period of time too, although they parted ways for good after Daltrey fathered a child out of wedlock in 1968. He walked down the aisle again several years later, marrying his current wife, Heather Taylor, in 1971. But even if he learned to settle down a bit following the collapse of his first marriage, Daltrey didn’t domesticate completely — at least not right away.
“It’s not an open marriage, but in the early days of our relationship she never put restrictions on me,” he told the Daily Mail in 2011. “I was in one of the biggest rock bands in the world, going out for four months at a time. At that age do you expect me to come back and say, ‘Oh yes, darling, I was a good boy’?”