In an historic acknowledgement of the depth and breadth of British rock influence in the fabric of American culture, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has selected founding members of legendary British rock band The Who, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, to be among the distinguished honorees who will receive the Kennedy Center Honors of 2008.
On Sunday, December 7th, in a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, the remaining two members of one of rock’s most vital and influential musical forces will be joined by four other recipients to be honored at the 31st annual national celebration of the arts: actor Morgan Freeman, singer George Jones, director, actress, singer, writer, composer and producer Barbra Streisand, and choreographer Twyla Tharp.
The recognition of The Who will mark the first time a rock band has ever received the coveted Kennedy Center Honor. Previous British honorees include, Elton John, Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant, among others. The 2008 honorees will be seated with the President of the United States and Mrs. Bush, accepting the thanks of their peers and fans through performances and heartfelt tributes.
“As the heart and soul of the seminal band The Who, songwriters and singers Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey transformed the sights and sounds of rock and roll,” stated Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman.
“This is a great thrill,” stated Mr. Townshend. “Since the Who began in the early ’60s we have loved American music and audiences and have made deep and lasting friendships with everyone involved in the industry there. Roger and I both feel our work in the United States has been as important as our work at home. Because our medium rock music is quintessentially American music with broad and deep international and multicultural roots, this honour is especially meaningful to us Brits.”
Mr. Daltrey also commented: “As a teenager growing up in the austerity of post-war England, it was the music I heard emanating from America that gave me a dream to hang my life on. To make music and make it there. I am deeply touched at receiving this honour, the warmth and affection I feel from our US audience is humbling indeed. To be added to the list of past recipients of this award makes that dream come true.”
The annual Honors Gala has become the highlight of the Washington cultural year, and its broadcast on CBS is a high point of the holiday television season. The Honors Gala will be recorded for broadcast on the CBS Network for the 31st consecutive year as a two-hour prime time special on Tuesday, December 30 at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT).
Produced by George Stevens Jr., the 2008 Honorees will be saluted by great performers from New York, Hollywood, Nashville, and the arts capitals of the world. The President and Mrs. Bush will receive the Honorees and members of the Artists Committee, who nominate them, along with the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees at the White House prior to the gala performance. The 2008 Kennedy Center Honors Gala concludes with a supper dance in the Grand Foyer.
Coinciding with this honor, The Who At Kilburn: 1977 is now available on DVD & Blu-Ray from Image Entertainment. One of the last filmed performances with all the band’s original members showcases them in top form performing many of their biggest hits.
See below for links to the trailer and the DVDs press release.