Roger Daltrey would not stay in hotels whose windows would not open. John Entwistle wanted long stay overs in cities where the deep sea fishing was good. Pete Townshend insisted his room be as far away from Moon’s as possible. And Keith asked only to be informed they were touring in time to get his outfits together. Louis XIV, France’s Sun King, had the longest reign in European history (1643-1715). During this time, he brought absolute monarchy to its height, established a glittering court at Versailles, and fought most of the other European countries in four wars. Had he been offered the choice, he would have opted to go on tour with The Who. It was far more fun. Entwistle was stone-faced impervious to the un-uniqueness of his fishes. He stuffed them all, and we shipped them to his home. He would rent a boat and take whoever wanted to come for the day. There was no career advantage in landing the biggest one. It would have been not polite. One such early morning in Miami, Moon arrived at the dock unexpectedly and dressed in a white Admiral’s outfit, with a sixteenth-century captain’s hat, shoulder tassels, and a monocle. It was a rare accuracy for him to even roughly guess where the fuck he was going, let alone to be in sync with any dress regulations. In fairness, it could have been a coincidence. Keith was drinking heavily before the boat began dawdling out toward deeper seas. Drinking after a night of drug-taking was nearly medicinal in his mind—a sensible pharmaceutical rebuttal in Rock terms. Anyway, the fishing went poorly. After only a couple of hours of seafaring, the drummer began crying and baring his soul to anybody who would listen. Listening to Keith was always a dangerous mental bear trap because he was very talented and deeply deceptive. It was routine to find yourself neck high in especially embarrassing shit. He had crashed into an epiphany. He ordered John to turn the boat around and put it into a port near the ablest hospital in Miami. He intended to apply the three days remaining in our stopover, to “purge himself” under the guardianship of “master doctors.” Forfeiting a show because he passed out on stage was yet to be routine, but it was a deadly threat. This plan grew support from everyone but Entwisle, who was fishing and not buying a word. So we continue to troll while Bill Curbishley and I tried to bribe hospitals to take him in. After admitting a weepy Moon and depositing him in a hospital bed, we set off back to the hotel for lunch, feeling pretty damn smart about everything. Later that day, we got a desperate call from the hospital saying that the police were on the way, and we had to get Moon out. The administrator said the drummer was on a payphone in the hallway in his dressing gown doing interviews with the local radio stations. He was inviting the kids to come to the hospital for a party. When we got there, the crowd was a couple of hundred deep.
It was the seventies, our hotel, seven or ten hours after the show had ended in Dallas.
“Do you have him?” I asked, knowing full well they did or calling me would have been a waste of time because “the hunt would be on” by all the security. I would have been irrelevant.
“Buttoned down, he can’t get away, but he’s been pestering for you,” he whined.
I got dressed and palmed a couple of hundred dollar bills and headed up.
His elevator opened to a sea of teenage girls wandering the drummer’s hallway like confused chickens. They cocked their heads towards me but drooped because I was a grown-up.
One of Jim’s guys was standing at the door to the Moon’s suite, being sturdy and earnest.
“What’s he doing?” I asked, putting the cop money in my pocket.
The likable young tough shrugged at me like muscular people imagine they can, “He’s been ringing up hookers for the last couple of hours with Jim, Tiny, and Dougal.”
Moon’s living room was empty except for Tiny, one of Jim’s security guys, standing lookout at the bedroom door.
He was naked except for the laminated security pass that hung around his neck.
Tiny was a goliath ex-New York cop who got shot and lived on a pension. He irregularly carried The Who’s only gun storing it on his ankle where he could not reach it in a crisis without a chiropractor.
He had shoulder-length greasy black curly hair. His eyebrows, arms, and whiskers were testicular sparse. He resembles the sad outcome of a high school custodian’s wet mop attack on a fat black bear.
Though gulpingly repulsive, Tiny always had the prettiest girls with him. He could outdraw Daltrey. Roger, of course, destroyed him on volume.
After a favor, he did me. I told him to order anything he wanted from room service. Passing by his room later, I caught him on his bed with a girl and two serving spoons. He had a glass bowl of forty or so ice cream scoops balanced on his stomach. They looked like life was at its summit. Tiny was not a man to fret the absence of inner experience.
Tiny bathed, as the tour joke went, only before major surgery.
“You’re a picture,” I said as I passed him to knock on the bedroom door.
Jim Callaghan cracked the door to peek at me. He was naked, “No clothes, governor’s orders.” was what he said.
I undressed except for my briefcase. I kept my shoes out of curious modesty.
I like hookers because they are a little like The Who. They are real.
Seven of them were on his king bed, staring at something in its center.
It was a Scrabble board.
A forest of breasts had blindfolded the drummer. He batted a few to clear his view of me.
“Well, finally, we took our time, didn’t we?” He charged.
“You better be winning,” I challenged him.
I lose his attention as he turns again to the board.
“Well Reg, you’re in time enough, I may need to buy a vowel,” he loudly confused our two most important American letter games, Scrabble and The Wheel of Fortune. They must have had a British equivalent from somewhere in his past.
“Come sit, he patted the bed beside him seductively, shoving a blond to the floor. I sat covering myself with my leather case.
For the first time, I noticed Dougal, his lifetime best friend on the floor, stewing in four girls. Callaghan had returned to one corner and was working on swapping blowjobs for backstage passes. The exercise was stupid because the girls all had been paid for already by Moon. But Jim had been at this for so many years it was an erotic accessory for him. I think he started with the Osmonds.
“I have these ladies on the run, but the play is getting crowded. The board is very condensed.” Moon groaned competitively to me.
I glanced at it. Three words had found their way into the match, but none of the wooden squares forming them were touching each other.
“You guys ever play this game before tonight?” I said to the girls. One or two expressed some confidence. They were beautiful by any standard.
A stunning black girl with bruised blood-colored hair and long bone earrings heaved in a dark voice, (like a lonely cow’s moo), “I got one.” She carefully laid down “dog,” forever impressing four of the other girls who I judged must be on her team.
So Moon kicks the board into the air in a losing hissy fit and banishes the poor black girl off the bed. She promptly goes from pride to tears, her spelling days over and in tatters.
He pushes himself up to lean on the puffed pink silk headboard beside me. I don’t sit next to naked men regularly, and so I worry about sweat.
“Can I hold it?” he draws my eyes to his.
My briefcase is likely the most valuable item on tour except for the guitars. Our security would rescue it before any attention came my way.
I hand him my case. He flattens it to his stomach and balls and says brightly, “Does it have lots of tonight?”
“You bet,” I said.
He tosses the case to the middle of the bed, and the girls lunge on it like it was a deep jungle musk genital pouch.
I was half thinking of getting hold of a spray bottle of Fantastic from housekeeping or a new bag before breakfast.
Moon, his mouth now on my ear, says in his whispering British spy voice, “I have my eye on that little blond down there, think she could be mine?”
I have this job owing to two strengths; I am trustworthy with money, and my reality is not easily overwhelmed by the unreality of anybody else’s.
“Please,” I offer, “she has not taken her eyes off you, even while her mouth is on my case.”
Jim and Doughal know their call girls.
“Girls, the case please,” he commanded, putting his arms out like the prongs on a forklift.
“I will need quite a bit tonight,” now back to me.
“How much?” I said.
He began gravely calculating, employing his taxing” pin the tail on the donkey” arithmetic.
He fixed on a number, immediately giddy with relief that the stress of the mathematics was finally over.
Opening the case, I counted out the packets, handed it to him, and made him sign for it, which he did, dramatically sweeping my pen in semi-circles like a crashing propeller plane before landing close enough to the dotted line.
He threw all the money to Doughal, who couldn’t disengage his hands fast enough from women’s body parts, so most of it hit him on the head.
Jim and Doughal sprang for it before the girls did.
On my way out, I told Jim to pay the girls himself, if he could, and to drop the balance back to me at the next show.
Keith Moon was out on the street, working as a doorman/bellboy at the Navarro Hotel in New York City in between shows at Madison Square Garden because he was running out of money. I got him that job thinking it might be a character-building experience. It also relieved, for a little while, everybody’s constant anxiety over where he was. The hotel manager, Mr. Russell, a personal friend of mine, arranged it because he felt obliged. After all, the band had rebuilt three of his hotel rooms over the last two tours. I always turned to the word ” shredded” in reporting what Moon had done to them. It was August 6, 1978. I think. We were in one of the suites playing scrabble and waiting for something to happen when Mr. Russell called to warn that Moon and his entourage were heading upstairs and that he was carrying two bags from a new guest that he had forgotten to leave in the lobby. The initial confusion of having their taxi door opened by a rock star wearing a six-foot-long Indian headdress was working out in the manager’s estimation. The regular bellmen seemed please at the increase in tips coming in. He was also sharing his gratuities with everybody conscientiously though he got ill-tempered with the math. It has, in fairness to Moony, been my experience that no rock star can count. In minutes the drummer blasted into the room like a one-person Apache raiding party. Behind him trailed our security guys, five groupies, two bellmen, and I guessed from their suits the people chasing their stolen bags. ” Have you heard the news?” he was nearly moaning with excitement. “Some Pope is dead! “ Feathers whipping in his breeze, he whirled on Anne Wheldon, our publicist who lives in a barely suppressed nervous hysteria, ordering her to ” get me someone on the line right now from The New York Times and Billboard Magazine!” He started to wring his hands like an early Adolf Hitler slavering over a defenseless prewar France. “Go right to the top, Anne, tell them I am throwing my hat into this Papal ring.” His eyes had an almost religious luminescence. She had the entertainment editor from the Times on the phone within minutes. He straightened his feathers and hunched over the desk phone. The room grew silent. We hung on his side of the conversation.” “That’s right; I have wanted to leave the band for years,” he confirmed to the guy. ” “Given this emergency, I believe that moment is ripe.” He listened, and his face seemed to droop. “No, I am not Catholic,” he paused, perhaps sensing his tactical error.” “But I am a quick study, ask Pete Townshend,” he attached smoothly. “And don’t let that motherfucker Mick Jagger hear about this. He is the devil, you know,” cunningly racing to blot any competition quickly. By this time, we were rolling on the floor, and Anne was standing next to him, trying to get his attention waving her arms and mouthing that she had Rolling Stone on the other line. He put both hands over the phone and, in confusion, shouted at us,” Fuck, he wants to know what I think qualifies me to be the next Pope.” Ever quick, Bill Curbishley, his manager, shouted back to him”, Tell him twenty-five platinum albums.”
It bears noting that horns were most likely humanity’s first real musical instruments. These surely doubled out as ant-eating utensils and primordial kazoos.
Blowing into hollow stuff with holes was early in our nature, or so it appears.
Academics who never find their entrance into the real music business have made arguments for the drummers being first.
That would have, however, made the first road bands culpable for both cadence and the chasing out of snakes and prehistoric bears from the mouth of the cave venue. This double responsibility would have made insurance rates skyrocket. Back then, remember, everything was an “Act of God,” so that kind of contractual shelter would never have occurred to the their lawyers.
Of course, these early trumpets languished in their simplicity, not contributing much to music despite their fast start. It wasn’t until black people invented the sax 12000 years later that shit got cooking, ( of course, all wind instruments did receive a kick up the ass when we humans stopped eating ants.)
The piano stool is humankind’s most modern music invention. But that is it’s own chapter. Keith Moon, who spent much of his time gaffer taped to his, once quipped, “no stool, no art.”
Below please find a photo taken of me as dressed during my years with The Who. I early on impressed the band with my natural self-discipline.
Though Keith Moon once did confide that he thought the bracelets were “too much,” he spent much of his time aping my understated appearance. Particularly in his stage outfits.
We lugged this stupid Space Invaders game from show to show for an entire tour. It was Pete’s only observable outside activity. I vaguely remember it being a gift from Harvey Weinstein. Courtesy Jackie Curbishley
It may have been the same tour Daltrey had the cost-saving epiphany regarding all the loose backstage wine and liquor after each show and taking it with us. Keith Moon, never a man prone to bitterness, was sorely tested with this short-lived cottage industry. It tragically also slowed our crew’s growing intimacy with two-hundred-dollar French wines. We had to add another small truck and driver, which comically trailed the endless 40 ft tractor-trailers from gig to gig.
So Townshend shows up in this gigantic stuffed puffy coat someone convinced him was “hip” at the beginning of one winter tour. He had to wear it because it was too big to carry. His purse had to take it from him before getting into a limo because it wouldn’t fit. The guy raced to the venue to be there when he got out.
He soured badly on this coat when he realized it had no buttons and had to be held shut.
A few of us barely got any sleep because we were laughing so hard. The coat disappeared in the middle of the tour.
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 stretched out in front of me 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.”
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 on occasion, I needed a refill. It was our primary working link.
“We have disturbing confidences to consider you and me,” he began slowly. “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!” he shot at him in a shrill hiss, “this is our 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.
I can make anyone do anything for Who tickets and cash.
The doctor was there in under an hour to take a culture. He called Keith later to unveil that he had an especially hateful strain of Vietnamese gonorrhea.
That afternoon I headed back up to his room with the doctor and his bag of syringes in tow.
We found him with his close friend Dougal hunched over the suite’s dining table with pens and paper looking like Hitler and Goebbels planning a North African tank campaign.
While the doctor set up, 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, “there are constellations of girls, and we are connecting those dots as we speak..”
With that, he turned back to his diagrams with Dougal, who was now so stimulated about the probable sexual associations he was practically drooling. They were tracing who they had slept with and who else had most probably done the same girl. 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 disease 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 rarely.
I understood that innocents were fingered that day, caught up as they were in Moon’s fabulously infectious net. 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.
Dougal and I called nearly everyone on tour that day and the glum suspected marched in all day. Even some of our lawyers succumbed to the flimsiest of evidence.
With sick looks on their faces, they dropped their pants.
The 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.
A photograph exists of everyone standing or kneeling together in that suite at day’s end because the whole damn thing turned into a party.
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.
This particular Who story might be famous, but I am not positive because so much other stuff is. The Genesis comments will be considered “filler” by most Who fans because they couldn’t give a shit. But I love Genesis, so fuck them. I threw in Lynyrd Skynyrd because I could.
The original Genesis, ( the one with Peter Gabriel), broke up along dietary lines. Vegetarians can’t get along. Of course, they rejuvenated around that meat eater Phil Collins. Goes to show ‘ya.
Smart vegetarians do not eat Chinese food. Genesis ( particularly in Germany) would tiresomely interrogate waiters about unrevealed ingredients. Of course, the mysterious and obscure is the foundation of all Chinese cuisine.
Chinese restaurants have slower and more hidden punishments for vegetarians.
Being interrogated by vegans is not something endured with much-cloaked civility in Mandarin kingdoms.
Vegetarians eat a lot of cruel pee as a consequence. Urine, of course, is animal-based, hence paradox, Asian style.
Lynyrd Skynyrd did not know China existed, let alone that they had restaurants. That’s it, all I have to say about them ( although I liked Ronnie.)
You need to allow for at least one of two possibilities with this Keith Moon story. The first requires a flexible personal belief system that acknowledges that fortune cookies can and do impart either wisdom or prediction.
If you can’t do that, then the second must be that the Chinese restaurant universe includes thousands of murderous bastards who have it in for rock stars.
I don’t know the truth. But no matter what, Moonie was soon dead.
The Who rarely ate together because they knew the financial risks, so I am guessing that someone else had lost their minds and offered to foot the bill that night. That he chose Chinese food means he wasn’t delusional.
Nothing unusual happened during dinner. There were at best ten of us.
The traditional bowl of fortune cookies showed up for the table at the end. We passed the bowl around reading our own as though there was some possible extrapolated meaning. Moon’s first was empty. No piece of paper. We finished the passing around, and then he took a second one, again nothing. He refused to take a third.
No one was unmoved—most of all, him.
I stopped working for Lynyrd Skynyrd months before they had their plane crash. If I had caught wind that they were eating take out Chinese on that flight, those oriental rascals would have no place to hide.