The Who's Roger Daltrey recalls little-known 1969 arrest: 'We were on the run from the police'

It was a Friday night in 1969, and The Who was on the run from the NYPD.

It's a story that may sound vaguely familiar to devoted fans, but Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend have spoken little of the strange altercation that unfolded at Fillmore East, briefly one of New York's buzziest rock venues -- Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin were among its headliners in the late 1960s, and the Grateful Dead took the stage 43 times before the Fillmore shuttered in 1971.

The Who was performing to a packed house nearly 50 years ago on May 16, 1969, when things went awry.

By the end of the night, "there was a warrant out for Pete's and my arrest because we kicked a cop off the stage," Daltrey, now 74, told AOL on April 27 at the 2018 We Are Family Foundation gala, where he was honored with the Mattie Stepanek Peacemaker Award. "He was in plain clothes. He ran on the stage while we were in the middle of 'Tommy' and took my microphone away. Pete came and kicked him up the ass."

Amid all the "racket we used to make," Daltrey and Townshend didn't realize that the man was an officer, even though he claimed afterward he'd shown his police badge.

"What he was trying to do was tell everyone the building next door was burning down -- we didn't know," Daltrey said. As the crowd exited, Daltrey and Townshend had to make moves.

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Roger Daltrey through the years
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Roger Daltrey through the years
A portrait of Roger Daltrey of The Who wearing a Fillmore East t-shirt in Amsterdam, Netherlands, 19th December 1972. (Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns)
Singer and actor Roger Daltrey of the Who in the UK, 1971. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)
1965: Singer Roger Daltrey of the rock and roll band 'The Who' poses for a portrait in 1965. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
The Who pose for a group portrait, London, 1965. L-R Pete Townshend, Keith Moon, Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle. (Photo by The Visualeyes Archive/Redferns)
SURREY, ENGLAND - JULY 15: Roger Daltrey from The Who posed at a press call for the launch of 'Who's Next' album in Chertsey, Surrey, England on 15th July 1971 (Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns)
CIRCA 1965: Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, Pete Townshend and Keith Moon of the rock and roll band 'The Who' pose for a portrait in circa 1965. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 12: CHELSEA BARRACKS Photo of Roger DALTREY and The Who, Roger Daltrey, posed, looking to camera, filming for US TV show (Photo by Chris Morphet/Redferns)
UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 19: READY STEADY GO Photo of Roger DALTREY and The Who, Pete Townshend & Roger Daltrey performing at Wembley Studios (Photo by Ivan Keeman/Redferns)
Portrait of singer Roger Daltrey of The Who, circa 1966. (Photo by The Visualeyes Archive/Redferns)
CIRCA 1966: Pete Townshend, Keith Moon, Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle of the rock and roll band 'The Who' pose for a portrait in circa 1966. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
MONTEREY CA - JUNE 18: Roger Daltrey of The Who performs on stage at the Monterey Pop Festival on June 18, 1967 in Monterey, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 27: Photo of Roger DALTREY and The Who; Roger Daltrey returning from an Italian tour through Heathrow Airport, wearing sunglasses (Photo by Chris Morphet/Redferns)
10th December 1968: Roger Daltrey, singer with British rock band The Who. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 27: Singer Roger Daltrey, guitarist Pete Townshend, bassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon of the rock and roll band 'The Who' pose for a portrait during a session at Griffith Park on February 27, 1968 in Los Angeles California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Singer Roger Daltrey performing with rock group the Who at the Isle of Wight Festival of Music, 1969. (Photo by McCarthy/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 19: Photo of Roger DALTREY and The Who; Roger Daltrey at IBC studios, recording 'The Seeker' playing Gibson SG Special guitar (Photo by Chris Morphet/Redferns)
Roger Daltrey of The Who in concert at the Isle of Wight Music Festival in England, 1969 (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
The Who, Pete Townshend & Roger Daltrey in concert circa 1973 in Los Angeles, California (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
SURREY, ENGLAND - JULY 15th: Roger Daltrey from The Who posed at a press call for 'Who's Next' album launch party in Surrey, England on 15th July 1971 (Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns)
Roger Daltrey of The Who (Photo by Tom Hill/WireImage)
OCTOBER - 1974: Singer Roger Daltrey and guitarist Pete Townshend of the rock and roll band 'The Who' performs onstage in October of 1974. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Singer Roger Daltrey of British rock group The Who, London, 7th September 1973. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)
CIRCA 1974: John Entwistle, Roger Daltrey, Keith Moon and Pete townshend of the rock and roll band 'The Who' perform onstage during the in circa 1974. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Roger Daltrey (1945-) the lead singer of the rock band The Who during a 1975 performance. (Photo by � Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
English singer, songwriter and actor Roger Daltrey poses in the doorway of a Battersea pub, April 1977. (Photo by John Downing/Getty Images)
Roger Daltrey of The Who (Photo by Tom Hill/WireImage)
Portrait of Roger Daltrey, an English singer and songwriter, actor, and founder and lead singer of English rock band The Who, poses in New York, N.Y., mid-1980s. (Photo by Oliver Morris/Getty Images)
Roger Daltrey of English rock band The Who, circa 1980. (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 01: Roger Daltrey (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
File photo of Roger Daltrey during a stop-over in Los Angeles, Calif. on 1/10/84. (Photo by Bob Riha Jr/WireImage)
CIRCA 1987: Singer Roger Daltrey of the rock and roll band 'The Who' performs onstage in circa 1987. (Photo by Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 29: SHEPHERD'S BUSH EMPIRE Photo of Roger DALTREY and The Who, Roger Daltrey performing live onstage at Mick Ronson tribute oncert (Photo by Mick Hutson/Redferns)
Roger Daltrey Of The Who In Concert, Wembley Arena, London, Britain - 1997, Roger Daltrey - The Who (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)
English singer and songwriter Roger Daltrey of The Who stars in the film 'Buddy's Song', 1991. (Photo by Richard Blanshard/Getty Images)
LONDON - NOVEMBER 27: British singer Roger Daltrey and Canadian pop star Bryan Adams perform on stage at a concert by 'The Who' held at the Royal Albert Hall on November 27, 2000 in London. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)
Roger Daltrey during Peta's Party of the Century and Humanitarian Awards at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by J. Vespa/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS - NOVEMBER 9: Musician Roger Daltrey performs with camp attendees during the 10th Anniversary Of The Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena November 9, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Roger Daltrey arrives for the European Premiere and DVD Launch of Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who at the Odeon cinema on Kensington High Street in London. (Photo by Anthony Devlin - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 15: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME. MANDATORY CREDIT PHOTO BY DAVE M. BENETT/GETTY IMAGES REQUIRED) Roger Daltrey attends the Lucian Grainge VIP Party on June 15, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC -- OCTOBER 30: Roger Daltrey, founder and lead singer of the English rock band, The Who, performs 'Won't be Fooled Again,' at a Congressional Ceremony commemorating the dedication of a bust for Sir Winston Churchill in Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, October 30, 2013. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22: Roger Daltrey attends the UK Premiere of 'Sensation - The Story of The Who's Tommy' at Riverside Studios on October 22, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Ferdaus Shamim/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 05: Roger Daltrey attends 'An Evening With Chris Robshaw & Friends' at The Old Billingsgate on December 5, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 27: Roger Daltrey attends the We Are Family Foundation 2018 Gala at Hammerstein Ballroom on April 27, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 27: Musician Roger Daltrey performs during the 2018 We Are Family Foundation Celebration Gala at Hammerstein Ballroom on April 27, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Shahar Azran/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 27: Musician Roger Daltrey performs during the 2018 We Are Family Foundation Celebration Gala at Hammerstein Ballroom on April 27, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Shahar Azran/WireImage)
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"We were sleeping rough somewhere," he mused. "There was a young lady who put me up very kindly because we were on the run from the police."

The rest of the story can be filled in from a 1986 letter sent to the LA Times, where a former Fillmore East security guard, Moose Trapasso, detailed the unorthodox night in a letter to the editor.

"The fire was next door and the smoke drifted into the Fillmore air ducts and walls," Trapasso wrote. "We saw billows of smoke and turned in the alarm. The fire department didn't get there for an hour."

The crowd was "humongous," he wrote, and it was the security team's job to "get the house out. We were commended for handling the situation without any injuries. Anyway, Townshend was arrested for kicking [a cop] off the stage when he started yelling to the crowd."

And while Townshend was arrested, "the chargers were later dropped, the [second] show was postponed to Sunday," Trapasso wrote. "All in all, and exciting night at the Fillmore."

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Rock legends at the Fillmore East
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Rock legends at the Fillmore East
Rock group The Doors performing at the Fillmore East. (Photo by Yale Joel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - CIRCA 1968: Singer Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company perform onstage at the Fillmore East circa 1968 in New York City, New York. (Photo by Julie Snow/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 05: Youngsters in line at Fillmore East waiting for performance. (Photo by Thomas Monaster/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 28: Joe Cocker performs at the Fillmore East Concert on March 28, 1970 in New York, New York. (Photo by Walter Iooss Jr./Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY, 1970: Ron 'Pigpen' McKernan (1945-1973) founder of The Grateful Dead holds a Tambourine and wears a Fillmore East shirt before a concert circa February, 1970 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Robert Altman/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
The Who, Pete Townshend in concert circa 1971 at the Fillmore East Theater, New York City (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
Robert Plant and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
SAN FRANCISCO - 1967: Hippies wait for a rock concert to start (including, among other acts, the Grateful Dead) in early summer, 1967, at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 1: Bassist Lee Dorman of the rock and roll band 'Iron Butterfly' performs onstage at the Fillmore East on February 1, 1969 in New York City, New York. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
John Bonham of Led Zeppelin backstage at the Fillmore East in New York City (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 27: The fans, many of them angered over the closing of The Fillmore East line up for the last public show. A set of modern-day longhairs fill Second Avenue between Sixth and Seventh Streets, as rock fans hope to get inside. Last night, an invitation only audience bade farewell. (Photo by Thomas Monaster/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
JUN 28 1971; Going in Peace; Bill Graham, owner of Fillmore East, makes peace sign at closing of one of meccas of rock 'n' roll after three years.; (Photo By The Denver Post via Getty Images)
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