A Rare Interview With Keith Moon

Keith Moon

CC: When did [managers] Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp arrive?
MOON: They arrived when we were playing the Scene Club as The High Numbers. Kit first saw us in Harrow, and from there we signed with Kit and Chris. We’ve been stuck with them ever since. Somebody’s got to look after them.

CC: Is it true that when you first started playing the Marquee, fans were paid to come and see the Who?
MOON: This was the Shepherds Bush mod crowd who came to see us at the Goldhawk Road social club. Kit had an idea to get us into the West End and he wanted to form a nucleus of hardcore Who fans and call them the Hundred Faces. He would give them all a ticket and membership in the Hundred Faces, and make it very exclusive. This was the start of the Marquee sessions. We took the club on a Tuesday night because nothing ever happened on a Tuesday. We moved in and gave all these free tickets to these staunch supporters of ours from Shepherds Bush.

A massive invasion took place with these guys — their chicks and friends and a few people must have wandered in. gradually we built it up so that by the time we left the Marquee, it was getting packed. That was all our London Marquee, and the West End. People started coming from all over, the Elephant And Castle and East End.

CC: Had you started breaking equipment then?
MOON: We started earlier than that, actually. It was an accident at the Railway. Pete did it as a mistake. We were very visual onstage with theatrics, and Pete was always swinging his guitar about. One day — whack — the head fell off! The drums used to really disintegrate on their own — I hit them so hard. The fittings were designed for dance bands. When you got somebody like me, they just snapped off.

My whole style of drumming changed when I joined the band. Before, I had just been copying straight from records, but with The Who I had to develop a style of my own. I took [the idea] from Gene Krupa with all the stick twiddling and thought it was great. The sticks used to fly out of my hands because I was sweating like a pig. They’d just slide out. All these things had an effect on the audience.

They’d wonder what was going on. There was a lot of raving going on in the States, but over here the ravers were outnumbered by the Shadows-type nice groups.

CC: Can you remember making “Can’t Explain?” [single released February 1965.]
MOON: Yes, for us it was phenomenally successful because it got into the Top 20, and we can’t even do that now, not that we ever release anything. It was released about the time Pete started getting into writing. He had written a couple of things before, but now he had bought a pen and paper because we could afford it. We borrowed the money from Kit because we thought he was a millionaire. He probably had about £150, but that was a million to us. Chris Stamp had to go and work on films to keep us.

CC: When did you start playing outside of London?
MOON: We used to play some Sunday concerts with people like Dusty Springfield, Gerry And The Pacemakers, and massive bills. Each group had about three minutes. It was one number and off. Our one number used to last about 15 minutes, and we weren’t very popular so we didn’t do many. We invariably got into trouble for over-running and being generally nasty. Then we did [early British rock television show] Ready, Steady, Go and a Beatles show in Blackpool.

CC: Were you having trouble with record companies at this time?
MOON: One always is. The record companies are strange. Some try harder than others, but the ones we had weren’t trying at all. There were hassles everywhere. A lot of it was pointless. Now we get together and thrash things out, but then we weren’t equipped for that. We’d just smash each other in the mouth to solve things.

CC: When did you first go to America?
MOON: That was much later. We did the Ready, Steady, Go things, and then the Ready, Steady, Who record [an early EP]. Kit had some connections in Paris and we did a couple of shows over there [in 1964]. That was the first time we ever went abroad. I remember Kit taking me to a bistro and I threw up all over the drums. The group’s music was a lot of Motown stuff, which we got into at the Marquee. There was “Baby Don’t You Do It,” which we still do, and “Barbara Ann.” That’s the kind of music I was into then, as well as Who music.

CC: Were you ever a mod?
MOON: No, I was a rocker. Everybody was generally scruffy except John. We wore jeans and T-shirt gear basically. Pete would always wear comfortable clothes. The pop-art thing was Kit’s idea.

CC: You were always looked on as being an arrogant, nasty bunch.
MOON: We were. We were very nasty, and still are.

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