Wednesday, November 20, 2013

40 Year Itch : Can Anybody Play the Drums?

That's not Moon!

      On November 20, 1973 a fan's biggest dream came to life when he found himself plucked from the audience to play drums with The Who.
       It happened at the Cow Palace outside San Francisco on the opening night of the Who's Quadrophenia Tour...and the moment has been captured for all to see on YouTube. About 70 minutes into the show, just as Roger Daltry makes his ear-splitting scream at the end of "Won't Get Fooled Again", Moon stops playing.
With the lights down, roadies carry the passed out drummer off stage. Townshend provides the
 audience some play-by-play:

    We're just going to revive our drummer. By punching him in the stomach. And giving him an enigma.

    Thirty minutes later Moon is on stage and wrestling Townshend before he's escorted back to the drums for "Magic Bus". And then Moon passes out again. Frustrated, Townshend finally makes a historic appeal to the crowd:
  Can anybody play the drums?
The request is met mostly with laughter but Townshend is serious:
 Can anybody play the drums? I mean somebody good! If he can find a way onstage...we'll start the auditions.
   Volunteered by his buddy, 19 year old Scot Halpin is on his way to the stage when he's stopped by concert promoter Bill Graham. 

Bill Graham

 “Graham just looked at me and said, ‘Can you do it?’ And I said ‘Yes,“‘straight out. Townshend and Daltrey look around and they’re as surprised as I am, because Graham put me up there.”
    Halprin plays three tunes with The Who: "Smokestack Lightning", "Spoonful" and the show closer "Naked Eye". They did not play "Substitute".

“To tell you the truth I was scared to death. Everything was crazy. The size of the drums was ridiculous. The tom-toms were as big as my bass drum. Everything was locked into place; anyplace you could hit there would be something there. All the cymbals overlapped. I started out hitting with the sticks normally but I had to turn them over to the fat end because I wasn’t making any sound. Back then monitors were incredibly awful. All I was hearing was the acoustic sound of the drums.

 Halpin joins the band as The Who takes a bow and goes backstage with them.

“They were very angry with Keith and sort of fighting among themselves..It was the opening date on their ‘Quadrophenia’ tour, and they were saying, ‘Why couldn’t he wait until after the show (if he wanted to get high)?”

  Halpin makes no money for the gig but he does receive a favorable review in the newspaper and Rolling Stone calls him "Pick-up Player of the Year".

Scot Halpin

 Sadly, Halpin died four years ago after a long battle with a brain tumor. Of Halpin, Pete Townshend said:

“He seemed to me to be the most lovely man, with a generous and selfless energy. I measure my life by the great and good people I have occasionally met. Scot was one of the truly great and good ones.”

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