Roger Daltrey Beat Life-Threatening Illness by Giving In to It
Roger Daltrey recalled how he believed meningitis was going to kill him in 2015, and he didn’t start recovering until he’d given up the fight against the disease.
He was diagnosed after falling ill on a tour that was eventually abandoned while he had also been working on his latest solo album, As Long as I Have You.
“They spent ages trying to find what was wrong with me,” the Who singer told GQ. “They took bone marrow, I had brain scans, four lumbar punches, you name it, they gave it to me. They didn’t know if it was leukemia, TB, but after about a week they told me I had meningitis, which I know a lot of people don’t come back from.”
Daltrey said he "was trying to fight it but I was going mad. Once the brain starts to get pressured, weird things happen. I kept trying to escape from hospital with all these wires and tubes coming out of me. I was a nightmare patient. I was on Skype to some of my mates one day and I said, ‘I don’t think I’m gonna get through this’ because it was absolute agony.”
On what he described as the “worst day” of his hospital experience, he told himself, “Rog, it doesn’t matter any more, this is getting ridiculous. Think about what you’ve done in your life, where you started, could you have ever dreamed about what you’ve done in your life? All the gigs we’ve done, all the people I’ve met, all the wonderful experiences I’ve had, being in the White House, being in Buckingham Palace, where kids like me growing up, where we came from, you’d never dreamed you’d get there.”
He took time to think about his loved ones and told himself, he said. “I haven’t left anyone in trouble," he noted. "No one’s in debt, my wife is fine, everyone is taken care of. What are you holding on for?”
At that moment, things began to change. “This incredible peace came over me, and all I can tell you is that it’s like being wrapped in cotton wool,” he said. “I just let go, I stopped fighting it. And within two days, I was starting to feel a bit better. It was incredible. It changed my thinking completely. I never saw any lights at the end of tunnel, but I was being wrapped in something, and it was wonderful. After that, I couldn’t wait to get back in the studio.”
Daltrey previously talked about how he had lost confidence in As Long as I Have You until Who bandmate Pete Townshend encouraged him to finish the work. The singer’s memoir, Thanks a Lot, Mr. Kibblewhite: My Story, will be published in October.