No blue plaque for Moonie

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Tue May 27 18:26:29 CDT 2008

>From The Independent:

Keith Moon lived here. But don't tell a living soul...
The Who drummer and Arthur Koestler are among those turned down for an English Heritage blue plaque
By Richard Osley
Sunday, 25 May 2008 

Thirty years have passed since Keith Moon smashed his last drum-kit to pieces, but his place in the rock'n'roll pantheon remains in doubt, in the eyes of English Heritage's experts, at least.

The Who's drummer, once billed as "the world's most outrageous", appears on a list of suggestions for blue plaque tributes that have been turned down by the body over the past year. A selection panel ruled his worthiness for a plaque had yet to be proven, and would not be looked at again for at least a decade.

While agreeing to honour such historic figures as Sir Francis Pettit – a screw propeller engineer from the 1860s – English Heritage's panel was unconvinced by Moon's case for commemoration. It concluded that "Moon died aged only 32, and many of his contemporaries, including other members of The Who such as Pete Townshend, are still living. Further time should be allowed to pass so he can be considered alongside his contemporaries."

Alan Lewis, of Record Collector magazine, criticised the decision, saying: "English Heritage's argument that we need to wait another 10 years to assess Moon's worth is spurious. It is 40 years since his finest hours. How much more time do they need? They are also inconsistent – a plaque to Hendrix was unveiled several years ago."

The plaques celebrate great figures of the past and are placed on buildings they are connected with. Nominees must have been dead for 20 years and the building they are linked to must have survived. A variety of experts decide on the merits of each case.

Loyd Grossman, a former panel chairman, said during his tenure: "It celebrates a very narrow achievement, but don't pin that on me. We inherited the scheme. It had been going 130 years, and in those days there was a heavy prejudice to artists and men of letters."

Marc Bolan, the T-Rex singer, another of those considered recently, was similarly brushed aside. English Heritage claimed his work needed to be held up against the likes of David Bowie to be valued properly. Other rejected suggestions include No 3 Savile Row, where The Beatles performed on the rooftop of the Apple studios.

Pop musicians were not the only ones rejected. Internal documents show that other spurned notables include the writer Arthur Koestler, turned down on the grounds of his "controversial reputation". It follows allegations that he sexually assaulted women.

Others rejected include Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, already commemorated by a local plaque, and novelist Daphne du Maurier, whose childhood Hampstead home was rejected on the grounds a Cornish link would be more appropriate – although it does bear a plaque honouring her father Gerald, the actor-manager.

A spokeswoman for English Heritage said: "The blue plaques scheme has the resources to put up 12 to 15 plaques a year. This is one of the reasons the panel has to be so rigorous and only recommend the most outstanding historical figures." 

 -Brian in Atlanta
The Who This Month!


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