A look at Keith Moon’s life in Hollywood
ROY CARR tells the heart-tugging tale of The Chancellor and the Drummer Boy
WHEN KEITH Moon first left the Old Country, it wasn’t to seek refuge from the taxman. Anyone familiar with Mr. Moon will agree that, up til quite recently, he’s never posessed sufficient funds to worry about such things.
No, the truth is that for the best part of their career the Who have been busy paying off the numerous debts that they have accumulated over the years.
Keith Moon Esq., with the self-assurance of a man invited to address The Explorers Club after returning from a highly successful expedition into hitherto uncharted terrain, clarifies his current financial position over oxtail and red wines.
“I left Britain”, he recollects with an air of authority, “before Denis Healey came to power. Aside from the weather, I enjoy California because it suits my particular lifestyle – also it never rains. Apparently, one day it did rain, but I was asleep at the time.”
As one who likes to live out of a suitcase, Moon entertains the thought of commuting between Los Angeles and London at the slightest whim; but for the time being his residency in America will be on a much more permanent basis.
Mr. Moon and Mr. healey have been forced to cross swords.
Moon rationalises that it’s rediculous, just because the Who will be spending a greater part of the year touring and recording, that in order to stay in, or for that metter gain easy access to Britain, they would have to run a business as a tax loss.
He fully realises that it’s a very touchy subject, but he argues that under the present “regime”, there’s no logical incentive to re-invest any profits in Britain.
“People often misconstrue why so many entertainers, celebrities and sports stars flee the country”, he continues with all seriousness. “It’s not that one isn’t patriotic . . . perish the thought old chap. What so many people fail to appreciate is that in many cases a person may only ever have single opportunity to make it”.
In the case of rock musicians, declares Moon, the lifestyle is so precarious that the vast majority are only good for a couple of albums and a couple of tours, and often a degree of success merely enables them (if they’re fortunate) to pay off their most pressing debts. he then goes on to point out that by the time an act is in ny position to break even, they’re either on the verge of breaking up or have lost their box office appeal.
“And they may never again have the opportunity to re-establish themselves. Worse still, if they only make it for a year they often stand to end up being worse off financially than when they were playing around the pubs for beer money”.
It’s no secret that economical instability and increased Government taxation has drained much of the adrenalin out of the once thriving british entertainment industry. One can almost detect the regal strains of ‘Land Of Hope And Glory’ growing louder over the clatter of crockery and cutlery at Keith Moon (his hand over his heart and his head held high) makes a plea for those about to go into exile.
Unfortunately, there’s only myself and the wine-waiter to hear him, and the wine-waiter doesn’t understand English.
Thus spake Moon: “I’m British born and educated and proud of it.” He clears his throat. The waiter shrugs his shoulders. “Yet America gets the benefits”. The waiter smiles when he hears the word “America”.
“I’m not just talking about rock stars”, continues Moon, “I’m talking about professional people. I’m talking about a lot of money . . . millions, millions of pounds and this Government is too bloody damn stupid to realise what they’re doing.
“They’re driving out all those people who make the money – whether it’s on a long or short-term basis. How on earth can a professional man afford to work and live in Britain? He can’t. He’s penalised because of his talent and because of his business acumen and individual enterprise.
“I’m talking from experiance now. It’s just not worth making a film or an album over here, and the result is that the business suffers. Skilled people are put out of work and a potential money-making industry goes into decline.
“If you’re a best-selling recording artist and dcide to make an album in this country, you can forget about seeing 90 percent of the profits because that goes straight to the Government.
“Believe me, anyone who becomes successful is insane to stay here. Anyone who makes sterling – convert it! Sterling isn’t worth a bloody light abroad.
TEMPORARILY setting aside its financial implications, Moon chooses to elaborate upon the artistic side of his burning ambition to become accepted as both a Bona Fide Movie Actor and a Television Personality.
In Britain, Moon insists, he is automatically type-cast. “I’m a rock star who only ever gets offers to play rock stars. I’ve done that in all four films I’ve been in”.
Hold on, weren’t you a Nun in 200 Motels
And a thoroughly disgusting sexual pervert in Tommy?
“Typecasting old chap, typecasting”.
The waiter registers an expression of shock as he overhears the conversation. I register the same face-quake upon being presented with the cheque.
“As an erstwhileactor-laddie”, Moon continues, as efforts are made to reactivate my heartbeat, “I want to do much more acting. It’s the same as a brewer living in Hamburg . . . you’re in the thick of it, and the same goes for Hollywood”. Quickly adding, “I don’t mean brewing, I mean acting”.
“Also, Hollywood offers much more scope in television. There’s a lot more than just plugging your latest record on either the Lulu or Cilla Black show.
“What else can you do over here? Be one of Bob Monkhouse’s Square Celebrities and hope somebody picks your square, make a prick of yourself on the Generation Game – didn’t he do well ! ! !”
You can always guest on the Des O’Connor Show.
“Precisely . . . and no matter what people say, Hollywood is still the Entertainment Capital of the world and, if I’m into making movies it’s the obvious place for me to live.”
Already Keith Moon has attracted the attention and in some cases the friendship of movie moguls like Sam Pekinpah, Mel Brooks and John Huston. There have been unconfirmed rumours that Peckinpah was interested in re-making the classic “Soldiers Three” yarn with Moon, Ringo and Harry Nilsson cast as the trio of British Army privates stationed in India during the Queen Victoria Raj. Likewise there is a strong possibility that a comedy script written by Moon and Graham Chapman may soon go before the cameras.
A 40 page draft has been delivered to Peckinpah, Brooks and Huston for their candid and professional opinion.
“Basically”, explains Metro Goldwyn Moon, “Graham Chapmen and myself have written what can best be described as a High Adventure movie – just how high the adventure will be remains to be seen.
“What I’ve tried to do is to combine all the truly great adventure and pantomime stories into one . . . Treasure Island, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Dick Whittington, The Pied Piper, Grimms – and select an all-star task in the title roles.”
According to Moon, he’s already secured verbal agreements from such box office stars as James Caan, Elliott Gould, Peter Sellers, Oliver Reed, Peter Cook, Ringo Starr and Zsa Zsa Gabor – who, it transpires, has taken a particular personal interest in Our Lad.
“But she can forget it, I’m much too young and also much too skint to become husband number . . . well whatever it is. Seven!”
“As I was saying. Aside from a cameo role as Long John Silver (naturally), my role would be producer.”
One thing is certain: no matter how long before plans are finalised, Moon’s movie will not be shot in Britain.
“It will be produced in America with an American crew. I would much rather make it in britain but the cost would be astronomical and I would have to be prepared to lose on it. If I made the movie in Britain it would be subject to British tax on a world-wide basis; therefore I could easily end up paying a lot of money out of my own pocket for the ‘privelage’ of making it here.” Moon argues that if one cannot make a profit by bringing money into Britain it’s no use to do it since there won’t be any margin of profit to re-invest in future projects.
“The more films that are made abroad the more the British film industry will suffer. At the moment there’s no alternative.”
However, Moon wishes to point out that he’s not letting personal ambitions get in the way of The Who.
“Suddenly”, he says with excitement in his voice, “it’s the Who again, and to tell you the truth we didn’t really know quite how it would work or if it would work at all. But once the four of us got back together again the chemistry started fizzing.
“When Pete, Roger, John and myself were out there on stage – Bang ! ! ! It really is something I can’t explain. Sure, I want to get into things like movies but I’m not about to sacrifice the Who because of that. It’s too much fun.
“There’s two sides to the Who”, he insists. “There’s the Pete Townshend side which is all intellectual, and there’s the crazy side, the fun side – me”.
We leave the restaraunt and climb into the back of Moon’s Rolls Royce. “I’m the pop image, too many people have forgotten that rock’n’roll is fun”, he says. Then, as we pass the Law Courts, Moon jumps on me and begins tearing off my clothes in full view of the public.
Thank God he won’t be back for almost a year.