One of the Boys“: Steve Gibbons writes and Roger Daltrey sings the „1977 My Generation“ (1977/III)

Source of the picture above: Screenshot https://www.discogs.com/de/Roger-Daltrey-Steve-Gibbons-One-Of-The-Boys-Please-Dont-Say-Goodbye/release/3482095

Cover yourself and let others cover your songs

While the Steve Gibbons Band was on its way to the top twenty of the British charts with the cover version of the Chuck Berry song „Tulane“, the cover version of one of Gibbons` own songs also made a name for itself.

Although this song could not place itself in the charts, it reached thousands of people on television and especially in the cinema as a short film (the term „video clip“ did not exist at that time) .

Again, the whole thing took place in an environment of illustrious rock stars. And again it was the „Who-Connection“ that made things work.

Roger Daltrey on solo track needs support

Roger Daltrey, the lead singer of The Who was obviously not fully occupied with this job. After the filming of the rock musical „Tommy“ he had made a name for himself as an actor by his further leading role in the (less successful and controversial movie) „Listomania“.

In addition, he regularly walked on musical solo paths. In 1976 he had already released three solo LPs and several successful singles, on which he recorded cover versions of other musicians.

He was supported in his solo projects by Leo Sayer as songwriter. However, when Daltrey decided to record another solo LP at that time, Leo Sayer was quite busy as his own career as a solo artist had gained considerable momentum with single hits like „You Make Me Feel Like Dancing“ (No. 1 in the USA and No. 2 in the UK in October 1976) and LPs like „Endless Flight“ (No. 4 in the UK, No. 10 in the USA in November 1976).

With a little help from a bunch of friends

Daltrey therefore asked his friends for songs and support with the recording. This call did not go unheard. In the studio, he had the support of his band mates and his friends:

  • John Entwistle and
  • Keith Moon,
  • Rod Argent,
  • Alvin Lee (Ten Years After),
  • Mick Ronson (David Bowie Band) and
  • Hank Marvin of the Shadows.
  • Also Eric Clapton, who, however, had to struggle with alcohol-related failures at times (On the 24th, – meant is January 1977 – Eric Clapton records a guitar overdub for Roger’s One of the Boys solo LP. The results aren’t quite good enough to use, however, after Eric gets soused on Roger’s gift of a barrel of Fuller’s Superstrong Ale) contributed some guitar parts.

Only Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller – who had composed such classics as „Hound Dog“, „Jailhouse Rock“ and, together with Ben E. King, „Stand By Me“ – gratefully declined the role as producer that Daltrey had offered them.

Paul Mc Cartney and Steve Gibbons deliver songs

Among other things Daltrey compensated the the lack of support from Leiber and Stoller inter alia by the fact that none other than Paul McCartney with „Giddy“ left him one of his freshly written songs.

The songwriting qualities of Steve Gibbons had moved Pete Townsend to support his career:

His writing never ceases to amaze me. He distills everything in the great British Rock writers tradition from Ray Davis to Lionel Bart… Steve can also bring across the true spirit of Nashville, of Dylan`s New York, or Bruce Springsteens`s or Paul Simon`s street heritage. Steve is from Birmingham but his culture is a stifed bag of music flour from fifteen years of Rock Harvest… (Pete Townsend in: The Steve Gibbons Book)

So it is not surprising that Roger Daltrey also asked Gibbons for a song he could record for the new album.

Gibbons draws „Portrait of The Who Singer as a Young Man“

The latter didn’t just reach into a drawer with already finished songs, but tailored a song for Daltrey with „One of the Boys“, which then even gave the name to the whole album and with the line „He’s a face in the mirror“ obviously inspired the surrealistic cover a la Rene Magritte, on which you can’t see a face in the mirror.

rogerdaltrey-oneofboys1
Picture source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_of_the_Boys_(Roger_Daltrey_album)

In the song Gibbons portrayed Daltrey as a powerful rebel, who teases all normal citizens, but also clearly stands up to the rising punks. Among other things the song says:

He speaks with a terrible stammer
So he don’t have much to say
But he can spit further than any punk
So nobody gets in his way

He knows his generation like he knows his A-B-C
He’s a kind of kid that don’t get invited back for a Sunday tea
He’s a face in the mirror; he’ll make you a fight
But he’s alright ….
He’s blowing all the speakers, making his own noise
One of the boys …
Frustration with the nation
Because the news is always bad
Life on the dole ain’t no good for your soul
It’s enough to drive a poor kid mad
So who’s going to put him down, for making his own noise?
One of the boy

In terms of content and with its rocking style the song could have fit on one of The Who’s records. This is made clear not least by a quote from Pete Townsend, mastermind and main song supplier of The Who:

His works sometimes touches on areas I have covered too: Steve is one of the few writers barring myself and Leo Sayer who have come up with a perfect song for Roger Daltrey. (Pete Townsend in: The Steve Gibbons Book)

Although Daltrey usually avoided similarities with The Who’s work on his solo records, he made an exception here. It was probably too tempting to present himself with the song.

„Video Clips“ to promote singles

In order to boost sales of the singles that were released from the solo LP,  small films (today you would call them „video clips“) were made. The first two of them are not, to say the least, marked by particular ingenuity.

The one to „Written in the Wind“ was rather stuffy. There you can see Roger Daltrey in particular, how he – not very convincingly – pretends to accompany himself on the piano.
The film adaptation of „Say It Ain’t So, Joe“ shows Daltrey with band, where especially Keith Moon still provokes comments on the internet today, because he was only sitting at the drums accompanied by underpants (which still leads to corresponding comments on You Tube today („the only drummer who comes to work in his under pants, thats british music for ya“ … „at least he was wearing something…“)

Daltrey is one of all kinds of „boys“

In contrast, the film adaptation of Steve Gibbons‘ composition „One of the Boys“ follows a stringent approach:

It shows Roger Daltrey in no less than five roles, namely as

  1. himself,
  2. as a punk (true to style with safety pin through the nose),
  3. as a fashionable „Teddy Boy.“
  4. as a motorcycle rocker and
  5. as worker.

The message that was conveyed was that Daltrey does not belong to a particular group, but is „one of them“ for all of them.  (As far as punk is concerned, by the way, the song and the film contradict each other: In the song, „boy“ Daltrey is still a feared opponent of punks – „but he can spit further than any punk“ , whereas in the film he is a punk  himself).

The way to „Starwars“ leads through „One of the Boys“

Apart from being shown on television, the short film was also shown in cinemas as a pause filler between commercials. Since the cinemas were full because of the blockbuster „Starwars“, hundreds of thousands of people watched the filmed song – and enjoyed it. Even today fans remember it on You Tube:

2 in a half minute of pure ROCK.
This was the first music video I ever saw. In a movie theatre in the late 1970s (it ran between trailers). Which means, yes, it wasn’t video, but film.
Ive been wanting to see this one again for decades, it was on the Midnight Special way back in the day and impressed me a lot. Many thanks for posting!!!

Bryan Wawzenek therefore wrote in his article „When Roger Daltrey Enlisted Famous Friends for ‚One of the Boys'“ still in May 2017(compared to the promo films to the other songs from the same album)

.. the promotional filmtied to „One of the Boys“ was a bigger deal.

But Daltreys‘ single does not sell

No „deal“, on the other hand, was the single „One of the Boys“ (which was released on June 24, 1977, seven days after Steve Gibbon’s version of „Tulane“), as it failed to make it into the charts. (Incidentally, on the B-side was „You Put Something Better Inside Me“, which Gerry Rafferty, who was to have a world hit with „Baker Street“ in 1978, had written together with Joe Egan).

„One Of The Boys“ is the „1977 ‚My Generation“

Not only did Daltrey find the song very well suited for himself, but he also saw in it some universal things, like the strict class thinking in Britain, to put it in a nutshell.

Mick Brown quotes Daltrey in „Rolling Stone“ of 2 July 1977 in his article „Who’s Still Angry? Roger Daltrey Is – With a solo album on the way and more Who music on the horizon, Daltrey still hasn’t given up his working-class roots“ on the occasion of the release of „One Of The Boys“ so:

If I wanted to get anything out of this business,“ Roger Daltrey says, „it was never to have to go back and work in a factory again. And I’ve got that.

But the one thing I’ve learned is that money never buys you out of being working-class.

The middle classes don’t ever let you forget where you come from.“

Daltrey also calls the title of the song in the same place

as „a 1977 ‚My Generation.'“

Matching text, but wrong motorcycle

The fact that Roger Daltrey could identify himself with the lyrics of the song also shows that the lyrics were printed in full length on the back of the cover of the single.

For the front cover a picture of Roger Daltrey on a motorcycle was chosen.

However, this is not a BSA from Steve Gibbons‘ hometown, a Harley-Davidson or a Triumph Boneville (Steve Gibbons has written songs about all these motorcycles, more about that elsewhere), but a – Suzuki!

img_4904

 

Double promo single Roger Daltrey- Steve Gibbons in the USA

In the USA the song was officially not released on single at all.

However, MCA distributed a remarkable promo single to disc jockeys and journalists. This included „One of the Boys“ in Roger Daltrey’s version on one side and the Steve Gibbons original „Please Don`t Say Goodbye“ on the back.

On the cover, under the name of the respective artist written in bold letters, was

img_4898
Source  Screenshot https://www.discogs.com/de/Roger-Daltrey-Steve-Gibbons-One-Of-The-Boys-Please-Dont-Say-Goodbye/release/3482095

also a handwritten signed short dedication to the respective other.

Roger Daltrey wrote about Steve Gibbons:

„I saw Steve Gibbons in a small club in London over a year ago. I experienced that rather feeling one has when confronted with a star. The charisma of his on-stage performance coupled with superb writing talent, make him a certainty for world wide success.

I invite you to listen to „Please Don`t Say Goodbye“ from the Steve Gibbons Band`s latest LP „Rollin`On“.

Roger Daltrey

Gibbons, in turn, expressed his gratitude by saying

My association with The Who, especially Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey, marked the turningpoint in my career, which included the oportunity to debut the Steve Gibbons Band in the U.S. while touring with The Who in 1976.

So when Roger asked me to write a song for his new album, I felt it had to be about him: „One Of The Boys“

Steve Gibbons

This promotion single may be another proof of the prestige Steve Gibbons enjoyed with the various members of The Who.

It also proves once again that various members of The Who were willing to „put their money where there big mouth was“ (as Pete Townsend put it in the intro to the „Steve Gibbons Book“, following a line from Steve Gibbons‘ song Eddy Vortex), and to put their words into action when it came to promoting Steve Gibbons‘ career. (Only that despite all this support, the prognosis of „world wide success“ never came true).

Gibbons‘ own version on his live LP

Steve Gibbons also recorded the song with his own band. This version can be found on the live LP „Caught in the Act“, which after all made it to number 20 in the British album charts.

The later deputy editor-in-chief of the British music magazine of „Sounds“ Barbara Charone wrote about this song in a review of a concert at the Birmingham Odeon:

My favourite number was a new song „One Of The Boys“ where Gibbons acts out his best Johnny Cool persona as he spits out „he knows his generation like he knows his ABC`s.“

We will talk about this live LP in a moment.

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