One Night Backstage with The Who

by Regis Boff

It was a long-handled fireman’s ax that you used to see in old buildings next to fat canvas water hoses placed behind glass windows with warnings about breaking in case of emergencies. Back then, authentic men must have cut their way out of burning stone buildings.
Keith Moon sat with the ax between his legs and his arm over the shoulders of a coffee urn on a wounded sofa in the middle of the Who’s hospitality room — the after-show guests had pinned themselves to the walls uneasy about the flying feathers, shrimp, and desserts.
I was typically late to the scene, but in this aftermath, he looked like he was waiting for his drum kit to be set up. He was panting and sporadically spitting feathers out of his mouth.
My first thought was how expensive this was going to be. I kept the records and paid for this kind of shit. This drummer never really understood that stuff costs money. The closest he ever got to “cash and carry” was buying hookers and in this, he loved the barter more than the commodity.
I would eventually deduct his damage from him or split it among the band. He would sidle endearingly up to me and whisper like a kiss in my ear that “last night might be a good time for a division.”
Pete Townshend walked out of his dressing room and over to Keith’s sofa, ( Moon was seeping into melancholia anyway because his drums had not arrived), and asked him for the ax.
He took it and cut a surviving wall clock in half.
He handed me the ax and said,” Put me down for one clock.”