On This Day in 1970…


(via The College of Rock and Roll Knowledge)

The Who’s drummer, Keith Moon decided to go to the Red Lion Pub in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK on Jan. 4, 1970. Keith went with his wife and some other friends. Keith’s friend and driver Neil Boland, drove them in Keith’s Bentley.

The people in the pub were more working class than Rock Star class (some say it was a skin head crowd). They started giving Keith and his friends trouble so they decided to leave. The crowd moved outside and started throwing rocks at the car and started rocking it. Boland got out of the car to try to cool off the crowd. However, Keith got scared and decided to make a get away by driving the car himself. What he didn’t know was that the crowd had pushed Neil under the car. The car ran over Neil and dragged him for a ways, killing him.

Moon was arrested and charged with a number of crimes. 6 weeks after the incident, Neil’s death was ruled accidental.

Neil’s death continued to bother Keith until his own death.

Keith Moon’s Final Performance with The Who (1978)

(Reprinted from Open Culture)

Last summer, we revisited a memorable moment from the annals of rock ‘ n’ roll — the time when Keith Moon, flying high on PCP, passed out at a 1973 Who concert in California, giving an unsuspecting fan, Scot Halpin, the chance to take over on the drums. (Watch it all happen here:https://edcyphers.com/2012/09/03/keith-moon-passes-out-at-1973-concert-19-year-old-fan-takes-over/  )

It was a glorious moment for Scot. For Keith, it was the middle of the end — another example of the outrageous substance abuse that would kill him five years later.

Fast forward to 1978, and we arrive at Keith Moon’s final live performance with The Who. It took place when the band shot live footage for the rockumentary, The Kids Are Alright. In his recently-published biography, Who Am I?, Pete Townshend writes that, by 1978, Moon’s addictions had caught up to him. His “drumming was getting so uneven that recording was almost impossible, so much so that work on the Who Are You album had ground to a halt…. [The Who] had just about enough tracks for a record, with very little additional material to spare. ‘Music Must Change‘ was completed with footsteps replacing drums.” When it came time to shoot live footage for The Kids Are Alright, Townshend “was terrified that Keith wouldn’t be able to hide his deteriorating condition,” but agreed to give it a try.

The initial shoot was appalling. The band was out of practice, and Keith couldn’t keep up. So they tried a second shoot, filmed at Shepperton Studios on May 25, 1978, where they played a limited number of hit songs before a small audience. (Watch above and below.) “Keith was in a good mood but bloated and unfit,” writes Townshend, “and he found the repeated takes wearying.” Because Moon’s earphones kept falling off, they taped them to his head with thick black gaffers’ tape. In the months that followed, Moon headed to Malibu, California where he tried to kick his alcohol habit and then started abusing medications to relieve the withdrawal symptoms. On September 6, Moon took 32 tablets of clomethiazole, a sedative meant to help him cope with the withdrawal. The next morning Roger Daltrey, The Who’s lead singer, called Pete Townshend and simply said “He’s done it.”

Keith Moon Passes Out at 1973 Concert; 19-Year-Old Fan Takes Over

In November 1973, Scot Halpin, a 19-year-old kid, scalped tickets to The Who concert in San Francisco, California. Little did he know that he’d wind up playing drums for the band that night — that his name would end up etched in the annals of rock ‘n’ roll.

The Who came to California with its album Quadrophenia topping the charts. But despite that, Keith Moon, the band’s drummer, had a case of the nerves. It was, after all, their first show on American soil in two years. When Moon vomited before the concert, he ended up taking some tranquillizers to calm down. The drugs worked all too well, not least because the tranquillizers actually ended up being PCP. During the show, Moon’s drumming became sloppy and slow, writes his biographer Tony Fletcher. Then, halfway through “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” he slumped onto his drums. Moon was out cold. (See it all happen above.) As the roadies tried to bring him back to form, The Who played as a trio. The drummer returned, but only briefly and collapsed again, this time heading off to the hospital to get his stomach pumped.

Scot Halpin watched the action from near the stage. Years later, he told an NPR interviewer, “my friend got real excited when he saw that [Moon was going to pass out again]. And he started telling the security guy, you know, this guy can help out. And all of a sudden, out of nowhere comes Bill Graham,” the great concert promoter. Graham asked Halpin straight up, “Can you do it?,” and Halpin shot back “yes.”
When Pete Townshend asked the crowd, “Can anybody play the drums?” Halpin mounted the stage, settled into Moon’s drum kit, and began confidently playing the blues jam “Smoke Stacked Lighting” that soon segued into “Spoonful.” It was a way of testing the kid out. Then came a nine minute version of “Naked Eye.” By the time it was over, Halpin was physically spent.
The show ended with Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Scot Halpin taking a bow center stage. And, to thank him for his efforts, The Who gave him a concert jacket that was promptly stolen.

As a sad footnote to an otherwise great story, Halpin died in 2008. The cause, a brain tumor. He was only 54 years old.

(Reprinted from Open Culture)


Olympics Organizers Ask Keith Moon to Play Closing Ceremony

keith moon

(reprinted from Rolling Stone)

Organizers of the London Olympics approached the  Who’s manager to inquire about having Keith Moon play at an Olympics event  despite the drummer being dead for nearly 34 years, the Sunday Times reports.

“I emailed back saying Keith now resides in Golders Green crematorium, having  lived up to the Who’s anthemic line ‘I hope I die before I get old’,” the band’s  longtime manager, Bill Curbishley, told the Times. “If they have a  round table, some glasses and candles, we might contact him.”

Moon died in 1978 at the age of 32 from an an accidental overdose of  prescription pills. The Olympics organizers wanted the late drummer to take part  in the Symphony of Rock, a celebration of British pop culture that will be part  of the Games’ closing ceremony on August 12th.

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