Media scowls after Roger Daltrey pauses concert due to marijuana smoke

A curiously high number of culture and news sources have reported a story, apparently originating in Newsday, that The Who front man Roger Daltrey paused in the midst of a performance at the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, New York, on May 20 after smelling marijuana smoke and threatened to cancel the rest of the show unless the offending odor was removed.

Daltrey, who has suffered numerous throat and vocal problems in recent years, told the crowd he is allergic to marijuana smoke and unless the anonymous smoker took immediate action “the show will be over.”

“It’s your choice, I can’t do anything about it. I’m doing my best.”

The audience, eager for the concert to go on, reportedly began urging the smoker to “eat it,” while Daltrey’s longtime bandmate Pete Townsend suggested depositing the offending item in an entirely different orifice.

Complaining about marijuana smoke certainly isn’t the hippest move for a band who first came to prominence as spokesmen for alienated, rebellious teenagers in the 1960s, but to read some of these stories, you’d think Daltrey and Townsend are the first humans to grow old and lose their edge. 

According to the Toronto Sun, Daltrey “lost his cool” and “scolded” the smoker.

A notice in the Los Angeles Times made a big deal about Daltrey’s status as a icon of the counterculture and seems to find some irony in the incident, which is kind of understandable — if you ignore the fact that a 71 year old man with a history of throat problems was attempting to perform anthemic rock and roll songs for a coliseum full of fans. He was probably well within his rights to ask someone to cease an illegal behavior which was creating an irritant.

The New York Daily News referred to the incident as “un-rock” but also points out that the audience was presented with an announcement about the smoking ban prior to the show. 

This story is being covered as though The Who is a hip new band that the kids can’t get enough of and not a group whose surviving members are in the minority, celebrating a 50th anniversary.

The irony angle that the Los Angeles Times presented could have something to do with the popularity of the story, but it seems just as likely that marijuana is such a hot topic currently that these outlets will take any opportunity to feature it in a headline.

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