September 19, 2020

’67 Beat Instrumental Keith Moon Columns

Beginning in August ’67, Keith took over "The Tutor", a monthly column in this UK fanzine. (Previous guest columnists had included the likes of Jeff Beck, Jack Bruce, etc.). Among other things, Moonie talks about his new drums, the Who’s first tour of the U.S., getting thrown through a plane glass window by two rednecks in the deep south, and what to expect from the Who shortly.


August 1967

It was a very pleasant surprise to find that I was going to take over the column spot in "B.I." At first I wondered what to talk about, but then I realised that the obvious subject was my new drum kit. I don’t have it at the moment; it’s down at the Bristol Siddeley factory having its engines fitted. No, I’m serious. This kit has to be seen to be believed. It’s going to be called "The Keith Moon Patent British Exploding Drum Kit." I’m having the shells strengthened and made more resonant but the drums will still be basically Premier.

With this new special kit, I’ve been aiming for a fairground atmosphere and I think I’ve got it. The drums are covered in gaudy designs painted in "Dayglo" and on stage they’ll light up larger than life. I’d like to say a bit more about the engine and what it will do but I think I’d prefer you to see the kit in action. I can promise you that it will be really worth seeing. It will give this effect of exploding, hence the name. I’m not sure what the situation is regarding copies of the new kit, but I dare say there will be a version for sale, although I can’t see everyone wanting Keith Moon designs.

I’m writing this on the eve of our departure for the States with the Herman tour. I must admit that the first time we went to the States I was wondering what to expect, but now we’ve been twice and had great receptions each time so I’m looking forward to this next tour. The thing is that the Americans are still looking to Britain for their ideas, even if they won’t admit it. When we went across we were already known by the groups and they made up a large percentage of the audiences. Mind you, having a group following can work the other way, as it has done in Britain for the Lovin’ Spoonful and the Young Rascals. Groups had know about them and were following their ideas for some time before they came over here, but once everbody else caught on and liked them, the groups disowned them. I still say that the British groups have the edge on any American group. They have better ideas and those ideas are much more musical than anything over there.

Something else you might be interested in is the fact that I played drums on "Beck’s Bolero," the flip of "Silver Lining." It was a good session, with Jeff, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones. Mind you, I only played because Jeff was a friend; I’m not all that fond of sessions usually.

As you probably know John got married last month and we’ve been on holiday since then, but first we’ve had to record the new single and some LP tracks. We may go into the studios in the States, but anyway, I’ll be able to tell you more about that next month.

September 1967

We’ll we’re half-way through our Stateside tour and I don’t think I’ll be very sorry when it’s all over. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a great tour, but the travelling! It’s unbelievable. I’ll never complain about British trips again. I must admit I had my doubts before it started. I had a feeling that Herman’s fans would be somewhat anti us, but I’m glad to say that I’ve been proved wrong. There are a lot of Teeny-boppers at all the concerts, who have obviously come to see Herman, but they’re also listening to us.

Things have generally been going pretty smoothly, but there have been a couple of incidents – one funny and one nearly disastrous. It was funny – though not at the time – when we had to fly to Toronto from New York. Somehow or other I managed to leave my passport in a laundry basket at a hotel, and almost got left behind. But someone pulled strings. I got onto the plane. My passport was sent on another plane.

The other incident happened in the deep South. I’m not quite sure how it came about, but I was walking along a road when some fellers came up, took an instant dislike to me, and shoved me through a plate glass window. By the time I had clambered out, they had disappeared and I’m still wondering what it was all about. No, I wasn’t hurt. Well, just a few scratches. But it could have proved very nasty.

I said that the tour was a bit hectic, but half of it is due to the amount of recording we’re doing. We stop in practically every big town, go into a studio that has previously been booked by Kit Lambert, and try to get some more tracks in the can for our next LP. So many people say that there is a vast difference between American and British studios, but I haven’t noticed anything. Admittedly we’re never in one place long enough to form any real opinion, so I could be wrong. We did a couple of tracks in Memphis. Beautiful studio there and the atmosphere great! It’s not surprising they produce so many hit records.

I can’t wait to get back home and show everyone my "Exploding Drum Kit."

October 1967

Well, I’m finally 21 years old. Boy, did I have a raving party. The raving occasion took place in Detroit, and there were so many guests including Dee-Jays and verious people from Tamla. And the cake I got! That was fabulous. Shaped like a drum kit with weird psychedelic designs all over it. A really great day for me.

Now we’re back in England, it’s a case of resting, resting and more resting. If anyone tells you that touring the States is easy, forget it. We played in 55 different towns and average about 2,000 miles a day. But we had a great time. Sleep was the only problem, but luckily the plane we used had six beds in it and most of the time was spent sleeping, drinking, playing Monopoly and cards and just chatting. That plane was a gas. On the side it had our names, so we felt very honoured. But I still managed to miss it one day. that was after a particularly hectic night and a special one had to be laid on just for me. We’re still doing a lot of recording, but the Nashville session was easily the most interesting.

There was this guy, something to do with Decca Records, who had his own private studio. Outside was a huge lake around in which lived people like the Everlys and Roy Orbison. It was beautiful. It’s things like that that I miss. And the swimming in the Motel swimming pools. But now we’re back in good old sunny England, and after this rest we’re going to have to think about a new act. We’ve decided that it needs changing, so it looks like a whole lot of rehearsing. Pete’s already written some new songs. He says he didn’t have time in the States, but I think he was enjoying himself too much.

The last date of the tour was in Hawaii. That was one place where I’ve always wanted to go, and it really is fantastic. I wish we could have stayed a few days, but we had to fly back to Los Angeles to do a Smothers Brothers TV show. I admit that the tour was very hard, mostly because America is such a big place, but I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Wonder when we’re going back?

November 1967

When we returned from the States, I had visions of a lovely, long rest. Boy, was I mistaken. Apart from rehearsing like mad, I’ve also moved into a new flat. It’s got three bedrooms and is in the Hampstead area. Beautiful. The only trouble with such a large flat is furnishing it. I think I prefer touring. It’s easier. I haven’t been able to do much to it in the daytime because we’ve spent weeks rehearsing at the Saville Theatre. We’ve built up a completely new act and the authentic surroundings helped a lot.

In the past, we haven’t appealed to as many people as we could have. This new act gives us a lot more scope and we hope it will attract a much wider audience. Oh yes, I’ve just got a set of timps. You know, those huge drums people like Eric Delaney use. They’re made by Premier and give a tremendous "lift" to songs. I won’t use them in many numbers; that would spoil the effect. I haven’t tried them on record yet, but the time will come.

As you probably know, our next single will be "I Can See For Miles And Miles." I’ve been trying to think of something interesting to say about it, but can’t think of anything. In fact I can’t even remember the session. It was made so long ago that even Pete – and he wrote it – had forgotten how it went. Kit Lambert was digging through some old tapes, found this one, re-reduced it and decided to use it as a single. Those Stateside sessions only produced about four masters and they’re more LP material. Indcidentally, we all prefer the English studios. The atmosphere is so much more friendly. And they’re not so far apart. Normally, we use either CBS or De Lane Lea. At least they can handle our sound. The Nashville one couldn’t. I think we must have blown every fuse in the studio.

We hope that some of you will come along and see us on tour, and let us know your opinions of the new act .providing they’re nice ones of course. No seriously, we want to please our fans, and the only way to do this is to let us know what you want. If it’s possible, we’ll give it a go.