As well as being their drummer and resident comedian, Keith Moon was The Who’s PR man. Journalists unfamiliar with the group may have had to contact their long-suffering official PR Keith Altham to obtain access but once the wall had been breached Keith Moon, uniquely for one in his position, not only made himself available virtually any time to anyone with a pen and notebook but pro-actively sought out journalists to help boost the group’s media profile.
On July 25, 1970, three months into my staff job on Melody Maker, I reviewed The Who for the first time at a concert at the Civic Hall in Dunstable, about 30 miles north of London. Having already seen them a few times (and been a fan for around five years) by this time, and being as how they were at the top of their game in 1970, I gave them a rave review. “They lived up to their name as the most exciting stage act in the world,” I wrote, or something to that effect.
The following Friday, two days after my review appeared in MM, the phone rang on my desk.
“Is that Chris?”
“Keith here. Keith Moon. From The Who.”
Indeed, I thought. Is there any other? I’d actually been introduced to him briefly at La Chasse Club on Wardour Street a few weeks previously.
“I’m just ringing to say thanks for the nice review of the group you wrote.”
“Er… it’s a pleasure, Keith. I love The Who.”
“So do I. We must have a drink sometime, dear boy.”
“I’d love to.”
“Meet me in La Chasse, or the Speakeasy. Come and say hello.”
“I will, I promise. Bye.”
I was flabbergasted. I hadn’t been at MM very long and I’d written positively about a few other acts, yet none had called to thank me. Now here was Keith Moon, a member of a band that was far and away the most skilled and successful of all the bands I’d reviewed, calling up to thank me for a good review. Neither he nor The Who actually needed a good review to help their career at this stage – unlike some of the others – yet Keith saw fit to call. I was immensely impressed, and this certainly helped cement my love for this great group.
The next time we met, at the Speakeasy this time, Keith invited me to be his guest at a Who concert at the Hammersmith Palais, on October 29, 1970. On the night I met him in central London, at Track's offices on Old Compton Street, we were driven from there to Hammersmith in his lilac Rolls-Royce which pulled up outside the front doors in full view of fans waiting in line to get in. When Keith stepped out of the car the crowd parted like the red sea to allow him to walk through, cheering him as he went by. The security on the door – such as it was – stepped aside and saluted him. Keith acknowledged the ovation, grinning and waving. I was by his side and it was like walking into Old Trafford alongside George Best, just a tremendous feeling of elation.
That night was the first time I met the other three members of The Who too.