11.1.19

KEITH MOON & THE PYTHONS


Who fans will be fascinated to learn that, according to Eric Idle, Keith Moon would have had a speaking part in Monty Python’s The Life Of Brian had he not inconveniently left our planet a few days before filming was due to begin. In his memoir, his Sortabiography, which I have just finished reading, Idle states that he and Keith spoke to one another at the party Paul McCartney threw on the eve of Keith’s death.
         “He came racing across and spouting his lines from Brian as a mad prophet: ‘And there shall at that time be monstrous things…’,” writes Idle. “He was terrific in his Robert Newton voice and I said, ‘Yes, yes, Keith, that’s great, save it for next week.’ Sadly, after that night… that was that.”
         A few days later the Pythons left for Tunisia to start filming and, had things turned out differently, Keith would have been with them.
         If nothing else, this story puts to the sword any lingering speculation that Keith may have overdosed deliberately. As plenty of people know from personal experience, Keith was a huge fan of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and there is no way in a million years that he would have missed out on an opportunity to feature in one of their films, nor of the opportunity to travel with them abroad, or anywhere else for that matter. 
         Two pages earlier in Idle’s book, the nudge-nudge-wink-winker relates that in January of 1978 Keith “followed” the Pythons to Barbados where he joined in games of Scrabble with John Cleese and Graham Chapman, “adding the word CAT to their very long words. Mick Jagger also came to dinner with Jerry, and we played charades, at which he [Keith] was terrific.”
         Oddly, there is no mention of Keith’s visit to Barbados with the Pythons in any of the many books about him or The Who, so this nugget of information is revealed for the first time in Idle’s book. All six Pythons – Idle, Cleese, Chapman, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam – were there to work on the script for The Life Of Brian, so it seems likely that Keith was offered the mad prophet part during this stay.
         Keith was living in London at the time having just moved to the UK from California, and The Who were recording Who Are You, mostly at their own Ramport Studios in London’s Battersea. I am reliably informed that Keith flew out to Barbados on January 16 during a break in recording and stayed at the Colony Club.  
         The Sortabiography, subtitled Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, also contains lots of stories about George Harrison and sundry other rock stars with whom Idle, the most musical of the core Pythons, became friendly. Not to mention celebrities from just about every other walk of life, thus turning the book into the biggest name-drop I’ve ever read, for which Idle, amusingly, makes no apology whatsoever.

7 comments:

  1. Hi Chris,
    Another belter- good on you!
    Mike Palin’s diaries do mention that Caribbean holiday, I think.
    I also saw a ‘Life of Brian’ sorta photo-book many years back: it was dedicated to Keith. A nice touch...

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  2. Michael Palin mentioned that Keith Moon and Graham Chapman were a great double act at charades in Barbados and KM was voted into the Life of Brian film by the Python team on 16 June 1978. He was due to fly to Tunisia with the Pythons but according to Chapman, KM had some pills called Heminverin to help him cut down on drinking and should never be taken with alcohol as they increased the strength of anything that was drunk. Looks like he didn’t follow the instructions.

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    1. Yes, it does now seem that various Pythons alluded to this over the years, either in books or interviews, but I wasn't paying attention to them, only Who books.

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  3. "Not to mention celebrities from just about every other walk of life..."

    You mean from just about every other SILLY walk of life. :-)

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  4. Accidentally took 32 pills, huh?

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  5. The published script of 'Life Of Brian' was dedicated to Keith Moon.

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