Roger Daltrey headlines a survival tour through adventure's hairiest moments
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AS GIGS FOR SEMIRETIRED ROCKERS GO, Who lead singer Roger Daltrey’s role as the host of Extreme History—a new History Channel program that runs Sunday nights through the end of the year—looks pretty sweet, especially for a guy who for years has been working off steam as a gentleman rancher.
During ten half-hour episodes, Daltrey, 59, immerses himself in events like the Lewis and Clark expedition and Major John Wesley Powell’s 1869 first descent of the Colorado River. To bring Powell’s expedition to life, Daltrey steers a 16-foot wooden boat through Class III rapids, then scales a 20-foot sandstone pitch—without using his right arm. (Powell had lost that wing in the Civil War.) In an episode about Native American buffalo hunts, he dons a wolf skin and crawls toward 400 wild shaggies in Wyoming, shooting rubber-tipped arrows at them from 30 feet away. “This 2,000-pound bull started pawing the earth,” Daltrey recalls. “It was not a good situation.” The pinball wizard has had dozens of parts on stage, film, and TV over the past 30 years and owns a 400-acre ranch in England, but he had zero outdoor adventure experience before filming for the series began, in 2002. Nevertheless, he gamely dressed in jeans and western shirts, hitting the trail with the ribald gusto his fans expect. (After seeing the first episode, Daltrey says, a History Channel executive sent producers an e-mail that read, “Love the show. Bleep the ‘fucks,’ lose the ‘whore,’ keep the ‘shits.’ “) Meanwhile, Daltrey’s British spurs helped him convince Texas cowpokes who worked on an episode about Chisholm Trail cattle drives that he wasn’t a complete wanker.
“They thought I’d be some prissy pop star,” says Daltrey, “but I knew more about the rear end of a cow than they did. Well, maybe not more—it’s lonely out there.”