Tony Butler, best know these days as the bassist for the '80s band Big Country, looked back on his time as Pete Townshend's bassist, during the sessions for his 1980 solo set, Empty Glass. Butler has an in with the Who legend after jamming for years with Pete's two younger brothers, Paul and Simon Townshend.
Butler spoke to Classic Rock magazine, and explained that these were no typical recording sessions, remembering, “The tracking was nerve-wracking, because I was the rookie of the bunch, in with top players. And not just that — dropping into the studio would be Stephen Stills, followed by David Bowie, followed by Mick Jagger. I'm pinching myself, thinking, 'Jesus, where am I?'”
He went on to say, “It's funny, when we started recording, I kept expecting to hear Roger Daltrey's voice on these songs. But Pete really established his own distinct voice. When he ripped it up, he did it really well. Then there was the tender stuff; 'I Am An Animal' is a stunning performance. I couldn't image Roger ever singing something like that.”
40 years rafter the release of Empty Glass, Tony Butler explains, “He was a genuinely brilliant artist and songwriter who knew what he wanted. I think on this album he proved he was so much more than a rock musician.”
During his 1994 Daltrey Sings Townshend tour with John Entwistle, Roger Daltrey thrilled die-hard fans with his performance of Townshend's “The Sea Refuses No River” from 1982's All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes album. Back in 2015, Daltrey recorded Townshend's Empty Glass hit “Let My Love Open The Door” to draw attention to the Who's patron charity, Teenage Cancer America (TCA).
We asked him if while listening to Pete Townshend's early-'80s solo albums, he heard other songs that he felt he easily could've done justice to: “Yeah. 'Slit Skits,' 'Stardom In Acton,' I mean, so many. But I understood why it was happening. I totally understood it. I know exactly what went on there, y'know?”