LONDON (Reuters) – “I hope I die before I get old,” The Who sang in their 1965 hit “My Generation”.
But more than 50 years on, the veteran rock band’s two surviving original members are set for a new tour named “Moving On!” and the release of their first album of new music in 13 years.
Singer Roger Daltrey and guitarist/songwriter Pete Townshend, now in their 70s, will take the stage in May as part of The Who’s current six-member lineup and backed by an orchestra to play venues in the United States and Canada as well as London’s Wembley Stadium in July.
After tours of past hits, namely the hugely influential rock operas “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia”, Daltrey, who performed with an orchestra last year, said it was time to do something “that reflects where we are in our lives at the moment”.
“We’re old men now…we can’t go out there and pretend it’s going to be anywhere like we were 40, 50 years ago,” he told Reuters in an interview at Wembley.
“Adding the orchestra…can elevate the music into a place where it feels kind of grown up…(but) people mustn’t think just because there’s an orchestra with The Who that it’s going to be watered down. We’ll be playing exactly full throttle like we usually do.”
Emerging in 1960s London, The Who, which included the late drummer Keith Moon and bass player John Entwistle, have sold more than 100 million records worldwide, with hits like “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and “I Can See For Miles”.
“We could never have imagined it (the group’s ongoing success,” Daltrey said.
“I was coming to (Wembley) stadium today and taking the same journey I used to take every night in the group van…All the memories come back.”
Townshend, the band’s principal songwriter and famed for thrashing his guitar on stage, said he felt “grateful” they could still perform.
“Roger and I are very lucky to be alive,” he said. “We’re lucky to be reasonably healthy. We’re lucky that we can still play the music that we grew up with.”
The Who this year are also planning to release their first album of new music since 2006’s “Endless Wire”.
“We went through so many different phases so now really the challenge is just writing music which is good music which suits Roger and I,” Townshend said.
“I’m a real, real hard taskmaster when it comes to what I sing and whether, whether it’s a good song or not. And I’ll tell you he’s still got it,” Daltrey said.
The singer has said “Moving On!” is not a farewell tour, but acknowledged the duo’s advancing years.
“One of them’s gonna be (a farewell tour), we might not make the end of this one,” he joked. “Every time you hit the stage there’s a possibility of game over at our age.”
Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; editing by Jason Neely