The final part on my interview with Keith.
You have a reputation for wrecking hotel bedrooms. When did this start?
When hotels started doing things to me. To be treated like dirt is bad. That’s not the way I want it. If I have a room and the waiters won’t send up drinks or room service in a couple of hours, it’s bad. You can’t go onstage full of food. If a meal takes two hours to arrive, I’ll freak out and throw it against the wall. The waiter will go and get the manager and we’ll be thrown out.
Are you banned from many hotels?
We’re banned from whole chains. Other groups say it’s bad for them, but if they’re willing to put up with that kind of treatment in hotels, good luck to them. But I’m not.
There are lots of stories about you exploding doors off walls. Are they true?
Yes. We went to one hotel and they actually locked the doors with the suitcases in while we were out. They demanded cash in advance. They hadn’t told us about this before. They just sealed them. Now that’s not nice, so I blew the door off the hinges and got my luggage. A few hotels still remember us, but now we have sussed out the good ones.
Is your reputation as a drummer overshadowed by your reputation as a looner?
I’ve no real aspirations to be a great drummer. I don’t want to channel all my energy into drumming, or to be a Buddy Rich. I just want to play drums for The Who, and that’s it. I think a lot of my lunacy is because I want to do some film work. Pete has got his writing, John has got his writing and producing, and Roger has got his farm. My interest is into filming and videoing. Since I’ve moved here I’ve stopped raging around the Speakeasy and other clubs as much as I did.
Do you get frustrated when you are off the road for a great length of time?
Yes. This is why the video and film work come in. Pete’s writing and I don’t feel I am a particularly good writer. We intended to go back on the road once we have something to go on the road with. Pete’s writing at the moment and we intend to do our own film. That’s what we’ll be into later on this year.
Do you see much of the rest of the group when you are off the road?
Not as much as I would like to. We had a meeting the other day and it’s amazing how much you miss them. Pete came over once, and I’ve been to see John a couple of times. The only reason I don’t see Roger is because he lives miles away.
Why do you think The Who have stayed together for so long while so many groups who started at the same time have finished?
Because they’re not The Who. Obviously their personalities weren’t meant to stay together. I love the other members of the group dearly. You’ve got to be involved with the people you are working with and the people you are producing the act for. If you don’t get this involvement then the group breaks up. We found we can get involved with each other to mutual satisfaction.
Why don’t The Who ever do encores?
I don’t think there’s any point. If you’ve done all you can, leave it at that. I don’t agree with encores. Sometimes it gets to the point where the crowd won’t leave unless you do, but I’ve seen so many groups do an encore after very short applause, and then they say they’ve done six encores. What’s all that about? We all feel the same way about that sort of thing.
Have you a favourite Who album?
The one I have been playing recently, and which has surprised me, is The Who Sell Out. I am pleased with that now, although I didn’t think much of it at the time.
Do you have any favourite drummers from other groups?
I think the drummer with Argent is very good, Bob Henrit. And Ringo, whose drumming is incredible. His bass drum work is great. Those two are my favorites.
You have an enormous drum kit onstage. Do you play all of it?
Sometimes I use the two tom-toms on my left for sticks and drinks and towels.
You have a glass kit as well.
I got it in the States. I have never got a good sound with it. Visually is all I got it for, for television and miming.
Why did you move out of London?
I had a house in Chelsea and it just got ridiculous. I could never get any peace. Regular, every night at 3:05 when the Speakeasy bar shut, the telephone would go. Immediately the cars would arrive outside the door. They’d all troop in and it was always the same. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I used to dread going back there. I do have to get to sleep, believe it or not. You just couldn’t live there, so I got a suite at a hotel, and then I found this place.
Did you spend a lot of time going around clubs in London in the early days?
Yes, I’ve always liked clubs. The Scotch of St. James, Annabels, Tramps or Speakeasy. You could generally find John or me down there. We often used to go clubbing together.
Do you think The Who would carry on if one member had to leave?
I don’t think it would carry on. It would naturally fall apart. I don’t think one member of the group would get fed up before we all did. If somebody wanted to leave they would have done it years ago. It will reach a point where we can’t do any more. I can see us working together all our lives. Certainly there’s no one I’d rather work with than The Who.
Do you have a lot of respect for Townshend?
Yes. Pete and I didn’t get on well at the beginning. John and I were the only two who went out together. We had respect for each other and that has grown. Pete writes whatever he wants to say, and always thinks about us playing it.
What kind of music do you prefer playing at home?
Surfing music and mid-’50s American pop. I love the titles, and songs about ridiculous things, like affection for two tons of metal. I find it terribly funny, like ‘Tell Laura I Love Her’.
Do you still keep a hotel near Oxford?
I’m in the process of flogging [unloading] it. I want to get one nearer London.
Can you see yourself as a publican [bartender] when you retire?
I’ll either be on one side of the bar or another.
Keith Moon was notorious for rewriting history, for making up stories that were so funny that they would invariably be published whether they were true or not, and thus become legendary ‘Moon The Loon’ stories, and it may be that some of what he told me during this interview was a product of his imagination, but I like to think that most of it was true, that Keith respected me – and Melody Maker – sufficiently not to embellish the truth too much. I was never quite sure, though, not until long after he’d died and much more of the truth came out in Dear Boy, Tony Fletcher’s brilliant biography of Keith, and other Who books.
Still, I think this was one of the best interviews I ever did for MM, and one of the reasons is that it was arranged privately and took place in Keith’s home, with no PRs involved, no time limits, and no motive on the part of the interviewee to promote ‘product’, which is the only reason why big name acts consent to be interviewed today. It was republished by Drumming magazine in the mid-eighties, but has not appeared elsewhere since, apart from my archive on the website Rock’s Back Pages.