Remembering Keith's 21st - Part 2

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Thu Aug 23 15:56:44 CDT 2007

>From The Flint (Michigan) Journal:

Hermits singer Peter Noone, who was 19 at the time, was at the party and said the car-in-the-pool story isn't true. "No, no, that never happened," he said in a telephone interview this month. "He would tell stories. He just forgot what happened." 

Noone said the party wasn't that different from most nights on a tour that flew from town to town on a chartered plane. "It was just another night for the tour. It's what happened every night on the tour," he recalled. 

Minus, presumably, car-in-pool stories. 

"It was just this birthday party. It was a Herman's Hermits thing," Noone added. "We prepaid for the room and told (the hotel) we were gonna destroy a room. 'Which ones do you want redecorated?' Because we were gents. So they gave us one of those rooms off the lobby." 

John Entwistle, who roomed with Moon on the tour, told The Journal in interviews in 1999 and 2002 that the aquatic car story was one of many Moon fabrications. Moon was notorious for his wild behavior and affinity for drugs and alcohol (which Entwistle shared), so he may have confused details of the party with another incident in which he backed his limo into a pond on his property in England. 

"He was a good liar," an amused Entwistle recalled with a laugh in a telephone interview with The Journal two months before his drug-related death in 2002. "He told great lies. The story was a lot funnier than people tell it." 

Funny now, but painful at the time. Moon had fallen and broken a tooth, or teeth, depending upon who's telling the story. Moon and Fletcher said it was one tooth. Noone, who loaned photographs of the party for this article, said: "Moon fell off a table doing a dance and knocked a couple of his teeth out and left. The party continued without him, but it wasn't as much fun." 

Moon was too drunk for anesthesia at the dentist's office, so the tooth extraction was done without it, his screams forcing Entwistle and the Hermits' Karl Green, who had accompanied him, from the room, according to Fletcher's book. 

While they were gone, the party deteriorated. "He was in no condition to drive," Entwistle told The Journal in 1999. "While we were at the dentist's, the rest of the tour (party) got extremely drunk and started spraying the car park (parking lot) with fire extinguishers." 

There's some dispute over what the price tag was for all this debauchery - stained carpet, paint-peeled cars. Fletcher's book said the generally agreed-upon amount was $24,000, though it's unclear who paid it, if such a bill was paid. 

Moon also said in the Rolling Stone interview that he spent "a couple hours in the nick (jail)," and had to leave for the show the next day in Philadelphia on a separate flight. 

"The sheriff took me out in the law car," Moon said, "and he puts me on the plane and says, 'Son, don't ever dock in Flint, Michigan, again.' I said, 'Dear boy, I wouldn't dream of it.' And I was lisping around the new tooth. AH-HAHAHAHAHA!" 

Fletcher wrote that Moon was never arrested or jailed and that the story that Holiday Inn banned the Who after the party was also false, noting that the band stayed in other Holiday Inns later on the tour. 

"It was a beautiful story superbly told and one would love to believe it," Fletcher summarized. "But it's not true (and impossible in a dozen ways, once one stops laughing at it long enough to study the details). Still, once in print, thousands evidently took it as gospel, which presented Keith with a considerable dilemma. For how do you follow an act you didn't actually perform in the first place? Only by becoming wilder still, and as the seventies continued, Keith embarked on increasingly bizarre escapades, almost always in an attempt to live up to and best the image he more than anyone had played a part in creating." 

Whether it did or didn't happen (requests for interviews with surviving Who members Roger Daltrey and Townshend went unanswered), the Who's only Flint show was part of an important turning point in the band's career. It came a few months after the Who's third album, "Happy Jack," two months after their proclaimed performance at the seminal Monterey International Pop Festival in California and three weeks before their infamous appearance on "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" (in which Moon put real explosives in his bass drums). 

It was less than two years before some songs Townshend was working on during the tour turned into the Who's career-defining rock opera, "Tommy," and made them one of the most important bands in rock. 

Cavanaugh said even then you could tell the Who was something special. 

"The party was a nice exclamation point, but it was nothing compared to the dynamics of the performance itself at Atwood," Cavanaugh said of a set that ended with the destructive "My Generation" finale. "There was no way to top that, other than with another show like that."
-Brian in Atlanta
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