Entertainment

Singer Roger Daltrey gives back to teens through cancer charity

Posted April 22, 2015
Updated April 23, 2015

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— For 50 years, The Who has been making hit after hit, and the unique, iconic voice of Roger Daltrey has led the way the whole time.

“You know, so many people come up to me and say, ‘Thank you for singing the soundtrack of my life,’ which is kind of scary. We’ve done all that?” Daltrey said with a laugh.

The legendary singer is also using his voice to help teenage cancer patients.

At every concert stop, including Tuesday’s performance at PNC Arena in Raleigh, the band holds a fundraiser for a charity that Daltrey started about three years ago called Teen Cancer America.

“We do sound checks where people pay to hear us make a terrible racket while we get the sound sorted out,” he said. “We charge them for that, and all that goes into the pot. We’re having fundraisers every night.”

Daltrey and his bandmate, guitarist Pete Townsend, founded a similar organization in Britain 25 years ago called Teenage Cancer Trust. Since then, the charity has raised more than $200 million.

The goal of the nonprofit is to set up places in hospitals to focus on cancer treatment for young people who are no longer children, yet not quite adults.

“It doesn’t have to be a big space, just somewhere they can meet, be together. The parents can meet other parents going through the same horror,” Daltrey said. “Psychological and social well-being for anyone with serious illness like cancer is incredibly beneficial to the patient.”

At 71, Daltrey still loves to perform and is passionate about giving back to the fans who have helped him and The Who persevere for 50 years.

“I’ve had a life of privilege,” he said. “I really have, I mean, due to the music business. And when you look at the music business, what it is, it is literally, completely and utterly supported by that age group. So, this is just a way of easily giving back.”

As a child, Daltrey spent time in a hospital after he swallowed a nail. The experience gives him a certain empathy for teens undergoing treatment.

“I remember the horrors of being isolated,” he said. “I hated it.”

The first Teen Cancer America facility started at UCLA. The group is in talks with 40 other hospitals, including Duke University Hospital, to expand the program.

Triangle resident Sally Webb is a member of the board of directors for Teen Cancer America. Her younger sister was diagnosed with a brain tumor in her early teens and died in her 20s.

Webb also sits on the executive committee of the Triangle Chapter of the British-American Business Council, which co-hosted a pre-concert event in Raleigh that raised $7,000 for Teen Cancer America.

Daltrey said his work with the charity has given him immeasurable return.

“I get so much good feeling out of doing this. You can’t buy it,” he said.

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  • Anne Havisham Apr 23, 2015
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    There's one way in which I feel bad for celebrities: If they publicly give money to various causes and nonprofits, they are seen as self-serving egomaniacs. If they do not publicly give money, they are accused of being selfish. As far as generosity is concerned, they can't really win.