It started with a simple meeting. This summer, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey got together at Townshend's home outside London to figure out whether they'd ever play together again. They wound up deciding to once more reunite the Who, for two charity shows in the fall: Neil Young's annual Bridge School Benefit Concert at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California, on October 30th and 31st, and their own show aiding the Maryville Academy in Des Plains, Illinois, at Chicago's House of Blues on November 13th.
"We'd kind of buried affection deep down under other crap," says Daltrey. "And we dug through that at our meeting. It was really wonderful. The fact that Pete and I could talk so frankly is a sign of a very, very successful relationship."
Townshend says the meeting made him realize "some simple truths that, for some reason, reached me as never before." The powwow prompted him to ask his band mate of nearly thirty years, on and off, to join him at his third annual benefit concert for the Maryville Academy, which offers housing and support to abused and neglected children.
Bassist John Entwistle was soon brought back into the fold, keyboardist John "Rabbit" Bundrick (who recorded on various Daltrey and Townshend solo projects) and drummer Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr's son) were recruited to fill out the band, and the Who were ready to embark on their fifth reunion since calling it quits in 1982. But will the band's newly invigorated love open the door to a full-fledged re-formation of the Who?
"One thing that Pete did say was that he felt inspired to write songs for me again, which is great," Daltrey says, pointing out that it's likely they will record a new Who album. "So who knows? I'm just taking it as though we were all recovering alcoholics: one day at a time."
And, responding a bit more obscurely, Townshend quips, "The Who are now three old guys who hold ear trumpets to hear their mutual love messages. We will play here and there, I expect. I've stopped trying to fight it."
This story is from the October 28th, 1999 issue of Rolling Stone.