Roger Daltrey

Though Roger Daltrey will go down in rock history as one of the genre's greatest vocalists, he has spent a good deal of time in recent years on his other career, acting.

Daltrey's most recent thespian stint was as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" at New York City's Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Roger Harry Daltrey was born 55 years ago today in London. He grew up in the working-class Shepherd's Bush area, as did two other future Who members, guitarist/songwriter Pete Townshend and bassist John Entwistle.

Daltrey was a sheet-metal worker who played in the band the Detours, which he invited Entwistle to join. Entwistle left a band with Townshend to become one of the Detours, but soon invited the latter to join the group as guitarist. When Townshend joined, Daltrey switched from the guitar to become the Detours' lead vocalist.

The Detours soon changed their name to the High Numbers and Keith Moon joined on drums. The band's first single, "I'm the Face," was a flop. Another name change brought the moniker the Who and the band soon became known for its violent performances, in which bandmembers smashed their instruments on stage.

The Who's music was an amalgam of power chord-based rock, blues and soul. In 1965, the band began a succession of U.K. hit singles including "I Can't Explain," "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere," "My Generation" and "Substitute." "Happy Jack" (1967) brought the Who a top-40 single in the U.S., where they played the Monterey Pop Festival. The band's explosive performances had begun to cause American rock fans to take notice and Townshend's ambitious songwriting (including the 10-minute mini-opera title track to the Who's U.K. LP A Quick One) made critics pay attention.

The Who Sell Out (1967) spawned the top U.K./U.S. hit "I Can See For Miles." But the Who really caused a sensation with its Townshend-composed 1969 rock opera, Tommy, a song cycle largely sung by Daltrey that is often cited as one of rock's greatest achievements. After the Who's other peak, 1971's classic rock masterpiece Who's Next, the band tried solo efforts.

Daltrey's macho stage antics -- which included swinging his mic recklessly like a lasso -- and his muscular good looks boded well for his solo career. But it was hindered by his lack of songwriting talent. Daltrey (1973) was mostly written by pop singer Leo Sayer and didn't cause much of a stir.

In the same year that the Who issued The Who By Numbers, Daltrey released Ride a Rock Horse (1975). Despite a sexy cover depicting Daltrey as half man, half horse, the LP didn't sell well. Daltrey was more successful that year portraying the title character in director Ken Russell's film of the Who's Tommy. He also starred in Russell's "Lisztomania" as classical music composer Franz Liszt.

Daltrey issued One of the Boys and sang on the Who's Who Are You, shortly before Moon's death from an overdose in 1978. He then acted in the movie "The Legacy," before co-producing and starring in "McVicar," a biography of a train robber.

In ensuing years, Daltrey still recorded such solo LPs as 1985's Under the Raging Moon (including the minor hit, "After the Fire"). After the Who's official 1983 breakup, Daltrey also participated in the group's subsequent "reunion" tours.

Following 1992's Rocks In The Head, Daltrey sang Who music solo on tour and on the 1994 LP A Celebration: The Music of Pete Townshend and the Who. In 1997, Rhino Records released Martyrs and Madmen: The Best of Roger Daltrey.

Daltrey's most recent appearance on record was Humanary Stew, an Alice Cooper tribute record on which he sings "No More Mr. Nice Guy" (RealAudio excerpt) with Slash on guitar.

Other birthdays: Jerry Fisher (Blood, Sweat and Tears), 56; Mike D'Abo (Manfred Mann), 55; Burning Spear, 54; Nik Kershaw, 41.