“The Who” get infected
by Regis Boff
All that remained of the band’s all-night security detail was Jim Callaghan, who was shifting nervously from foot to foot in front of me. He was wearing one shoe.
I ignored him.
Keith Moon was stretched out in black nylons and a blue silk kimono behind a tea service set for him on a small Victorian table. His hotel suite window showed whichever lake was next to Chicago. It was early morning, sometime in the late seventies. He was wearing Callaghan’s other shoe.
At mid-tour, he was worn and beginning to look like an unshaven Judy Garland during her last difficult years, but I kept this to myself.
“Spot of tea, Regis?” he offered, not caring there was not a second cup. “Did you take in some theater before you rushed here to help me?” he jabbed.
“I wanted to pick up more cash,” I offered, working to deflect him. The band still made me nervous in my first years.”
I learned early that rock stars had no concrete understanding of cash, they liked it, but it stalled and confused them.
This drummer viewed me as a magically tall money fountain and understood vaguely that I needed a refill on occasion. It was our primary working link.
“We have disturbing confidences to consider you and me,” he began slowly, almost like an accusation. “I have met the wrong woman.”
He paused here, investigating our faces for sympathy. None came. But we didn’t laugh either.
Days seemed to pass as I was blank for any response. Callaghan cracked first,” He’s got the clap.”
“Quiet!” Moonie shot at him in a shrill hiss, “this is a grave intrigue; no one can ever know.”
” I’ll find you a doctor,” I swiftly convinced him, and then after brief but genuinely stupid pleasantries, I headed off to solve the problem.
I could make anyone do anything for Who tickets and cash.
An Indian doctor arrived at his suite in under an hour to take a culture. Soon after, Keith understood he had an especially hateful strain of Vietnamese gonorrhea.
That afternoon I headed back up to his room with the doctor and his bag in tow.
We found him with his intimate friend Dougal hunched over the suite’s dining table with pens and paper resembling Hitler and Goebbels plotting a North African tank campaign during WW11.
I made my first mistake while the doctor got ready.
I asked: “Should we let the girl know?”
“Girl?” he sniffed as though I had demanded the definition of a two hundred letter word. They both snickered at me; he said, “Reg, there are constellations of girls, and we are connecting those dots as you can see on our chart, pointing to the table.
With that, he turned back to his diagrams with Dougal, who was now so stimulated about the probable sexual connections he was practically drooling.
They were tracing who they had slept with and who else had been there. The enrollment grew and grew like a virus. No one, at least in the imaginations of these two, could be innocent. ( Except me, of course, because I would be paying the doctor.)
There is nowhere on earth like a rock tour when it comes to women. And yes, occasionally, the odd girl might have a condition of one kind or another. It did happen.
But groupies get a bad whack in music mythology. Commonly they had far higher IQs than the road crews, the traveling staff, and the band members they coveted. Most of the famous ones are ambitious, conniving, and breathtakingly forward advancing. Sometimes it is sad, but only rarely.
I understood that innocents were fingered, caught up as they were in Moon’s fabulously infectious net. Many were wrongly doomed that afternoon.
Dougal and I called nearly everyone on tour that day, and the glum suspects marched in to get their shots. Even some of our lawyers succumbed to the flimsiest of evidence. Still, the English are reliably the last to guess at a lie. They will nearly always misjudge what to do in favor of caution.
It was just good unclean fun, after all. With sick looks on their faces, they dropped their pants.
This doctor was now working for me full time. He made a small fortune and walked away with enough tickets to start another Ticketron in Chicago.
Everyone hung around all day and into the night—a major party.
A photograph exists of everyone standing or kneeling together in that suite at night’s end.
It resembled a U.S. baseball team card.
The Indian doctor was sitting in the center, holding a lap-full of Who tickets and syringes. I don’t know who has that photo today.
I would pay for it.