ALICE COOPER
on KEITH MOON
One reason I've been looking forward to getting this site up is to make available some of the interviews I conducted for the Keith Moon book. Not everything that my subjects told me made it into the book (despite the 600 pages!) and I'm sure there are readers who would greatly appreciate the opportunity to read deeper and further. Having said that, once I started looking at the manuscripts recently, I realized the drawback: my job as biographer was to unravel the myths and half-truths surrounding Keith's life, and the amount of misinformation I was given, whether it be in the shape of second-hand anecdotes or simply the result of an aged memory, was astounding. If I start printing all the interviews verbatim, I'll just be opening up the whole unchecked mythology I set about trying to reign in. Also, many people say things that either don't translate well on paper, are meant for the interviewer's ears only, or are better off just ignored. And while some people ramble endlessly, needing tight editing, others can be painfully succinct; in each extreme, reading the manuscripts will not make you much the wiser. Finally, I had so many hours of tape to go through while working on the book that I sometimes didn't type out my own considerable observations, knowing my words as spoken at the time would not be going in the book. For all these reasons and probably several more, I will need to think very carefully about what I do post here.

Having said all that, when looking through the manuscripts and coming to these above conclusions, one interviewee jumped straight out as being erudite, concise, witty and free of obvious myth-making. This was particularly gratifying for me because he was one of my original musical heroes. I'm talking, of course, about ALICE COOPER

Now also up: DAVE EDMUNDS And JEFF BECK
(We started off talking generally, about Alice Cooper's association with the Who, which stretches all the way back to the 1960s.)

Alice Cooper: We were much more smitten with the Yardbirds and the Who (than the Beatles and The Stones). The Yardbirds were our band but The Who was what we wanted to be. We used to play with the Who at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit, it held 3000, and we would play and The Who would play, and my drummer Neil Smith would always find out how many drums Keith had and add one! At one point they were both on stage with all their drums and Keith came up and played with us and there was 70 drums!

. . .The Speakeasy and Tramps were the place to be in London. There was a little loft at the Rainbow Room in LA, they only had that for the club: the club was myself, Keith Moon, Ringo, Micky Dolenz, Harry Nilsson, it was that crowd, every night those same people. Every once in a while John Lennon would come into town or Keith Emerson and they would be honorable members of the night. They still have a plaque there at the Rainbow, where it says 'The Lair of the Hollywood Vampires.'

I lived in Beverly Hills. Keith would come over and drive up to the house and stay for four days. 'Hello Alice, good to see you old boy,' he was Robert Newton. He would come over and he had a 26 ft long rolls Royce, a 1929 Silver Satan or something, he had the back seats taken out and a throne put in. Because I just had this new 1975 rolls, but his was twice as long as mine. He had a throne in his, and a place for his golden goblet of brandy. He would come up to my house and stay for so long that we would go stay with someone else for a couple of days! We'd come back and he'd still be there.

Tony Fletcher -Is that an indication of his restlessness?

I don't know if it was his restlessness or the fact that he was everybody's best friend. I couldn't hang out with Keith all the time. He would exhaust you because he never got tired, and it wasn't because of drugs necessarily, he was just one of these guys who never got tired. You'd be passing out and going 'enough' and he'd be going, 'let's go out'! I don't know where he got the energy. He was amazing. He really was the heart and soul of The Who.

-You had the reputation for outrage in those days.

Yes, but I did all mine on stage.

-And were you conscious of that difference between you and Keith?

Yes. The stage was my outlet for anything I did. If I had a great idea, I would always put it on stage in front of people. Whereas Keith lived it at all times. I was probably much more conservative than him. When I was offstage I was probably more opposite of my character, whereas he was actually more outrageous offstage than onstage. Can you imagine if he would have been a lead singer? He would have been beyond.

-You were boozing as well in those Hollywood Vampire days. Did you have too much of a problem to know that Keith had a problem?

I think we all knew we had problems, but they weren't problems at the time because we were having way too much fun. We weren't mature enough to understand that what we were doing was a problem. At the time it was just, hey we're rock n rollers, what do you expect? I guess he heard stories that I would get up in the morning and throw up blood, and I would hear stories - any time I heard a story about Keith I would never doubt it, because I was like, that's Keith. But when he died.... I wasn't surprised when Jim Morrison died, I wasn't surprised when Janis Joplin died, I was surprised when Keith Moon died. Because he had no death wish. He was having too much fun living. So his thing when he died, that was an absolute accident.

-Did Keith get into trouble when you were out?

No, because he was Keith. He had the license to do anything he wanted to do. Even the police liked Keith. They expected it, they knew it was Keith, and he was the guy who...He never did anything to hurt anybody.

-What specific stories do you remember?

Oh he would come in dressed up like Hitler. Him and Viv Stanshall. And you walk down Sunset Or Hollywood Boulevard, there's a lot of Jewish people there in showbiz and I'm sure they didn't think it was funny. But it went beyond any racial thing. I don't think he did it as any set of racial thing. I think he just thought 'this will be funny.' But you know what he was like. Like a hyperactive little kid: 'Keith, did you take your Ritalin this morning?'

I remember Dougal, his driver, because you would never certainly never put Keith behind the wheel of a car, that would be like inviting mass murder. What a job that guy had! Did that guy earn his money?!


-Did Keith ever drop his guard with you? Were these deep friendships?


When I used to see Keith, it was always just more of a madhouse, it was always just like, we only have two days, let's really blow it. I never had enough time to sit down and talk with him about anything. I did with Harry Nilsson, with Lennon and other people at the time because they were a little bit more serious. But with Keith, it was like I said - having your hyper best friend over to stay all night.

-That suggests Keith didn't want that serious side.

I don't think he did. I think he thought, 'Well, when I get older - if I get older - I'll have time to get serious.' But I never had a serious conversation with Keith, I don't know if that was possible.

I never got over to his house. I saw him at Ringo's house and maybe at Ronnie Wood's house... We usually met at the clubs. Because you see he would never go home. I would actually go home. No one really knew where he lived, because he was always out.

...I still don't figure there is one drummer out there anywhere near him. I always say if you can get 25 rebounds a game you can dye your hair like Rodman, if you can play like Charles Barclay You can talk crap. If you can back it up . . . and Keith could back it up. And I think it was a very big part of him too. If you were going to ask me who had the most fun in rock'n'roll I would say Keith Moon. Who really actually understood what rock'n'roll was about, it would be Keith Moon. It's not to say it's right. Because he died way prematurely. I don't think he had another gear to go down to. I would imagine normalcy for him was depression. People on a normal level, they go up and have fun, they drink and they have that party and they come back down to normalcy and that's normal, and if they get depressed that's depression. With him I think he stayed up there so long that when he came back to normalcy that was depression, and then if he got depressed that was dark, that must have been black depression for him. You always expected him to be him. And I think that wore him out. People expected him to always be Keith, and he felt obligated to always be Keith Moon. I had the same problem where I always thought I had to be Alice, onstage and offstage, to be this character that as dark and menacing and in trouble. Then I finally realized that character belongs on stage and play him to the hilt, but don't be him off stage, then I was able to lead a normal life. I think everyone sat around afterwards and said 'I wish I could have spent more time with him, I wish I could have said slow down,' but nobody would ever say that while he was going, because he would just have looked at you and said, 'Are you crazy? I'm Keith Moon.'

-When he came to stay would he be a good guest?

He'd be the sweetest guy in the world. 'Hello Cheryl how are you doing, you're so lovely?' And after about 12 hours of that, Cheryl would say ' I've got to get out of here' and I'd say, 'Me too, he's wearing me out.' We'd say 'Keith, we're going out, see you later,' we 'd go out, come back the next day, and Keith would still be there: 'Hello, did you bring me anything?'

-Is he hanging out with Dougal?

They'd both be there. Hollywood was like that though. I had three or four people staying at my house and I didn't know who they were. After a while I'd say 'Exactly how long have you been here and who are you?' But every rock'n'roller 's house was like that, I could name you ten houses like that, like freefall. Especially in Hollywood where people had these big big houses, and people could live like that without anyone knowing.

-Did you see drugs with Keith?

I was never much into that. I'd see him take a handful of things. I'm not sure he'd know what they were. He'd go to parties, Hollywood parties, which would be all stars, and there'd be a candy bowl full of pills, and Keith would just take a handful. Jim Morrison would do the same thing. Just come in, didn't know what it was, just take a handful of whatever it was and down it with a JD. Keith had that same modus operandi. I was much more conservative. I only drank two whiskeys, it had to be Canadian Club or Seagrams VO and it had to be with Coca Cola or I wouldn't drink. I was very particular about what I was drinking. Keith was a brandy man. Townshend was more of a cognac drinker, because one night at the Speakeasy he said let's trade bottles and I was so sick, I didn't know cognac was distilled champagne. Back then even though it sounds pretty decadent, I didn't know anyone who was doing needles. During the day I would usually drink beer and in the evening switch to whiskey, but I was very functional, I never missed a show, never slurred a word.

I don't think there was any way he could have been Keith Moon and been anybody but who he was. It was like you saw it happening. The guys in the band, I'm sure they must have said 'Come on Keith, we do have to live through this,' but I don't think there was any way of slowing him down because it wouldn't have been Keith. At the rate he was going if he was 50 this year [in 1996] he would have looked like 90. Not only that..... He wasn't stupid at all, he was just caught up in the fact that he could do... He was like a kid in a candy shop. He absolutely would do anything he wanted to do and he could afford to. Well that was pretty dangerous to give Keith that option.

When we were doing Sextette, the directors would sit there and say 'How do we contain him until the cameras are on?' They were afraid he was going to wear out. I'd say 'I don't think you have to worry about that. It's not like the battery is going to wear down.' I play an Italian waiter and sing a song with Mae West of all things. It was awful, one of the worst movies ever made, but we still loved it. Timothy Dalton was in it and George Raft, and Ringo and Dom Delouise, it was just one of those movies that should never have been made. Like Sgt Peppers. I was in the worst two movies ever!

INTERVIEW CONDUCTED NOVEMBER 12th 1996.

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Introduction to the 2005 edition of Dear Boy

Dave Edmunds interview transcript from Dear Boy

Jeff Beck interview transcript from Dear Boy

Alice Cooper interview transcript from Dear Boy

Jean Battye recalls how Keith's driver Neil Boland lost his life, Jan 1970 (interview added July 2005)

Golden Shot hostess Lee Patrick remembers her time as Keith Moon's amour.

Tony Fletcher on Chasing The Moon

Tony's updates on Keith Moon and Dear Boy from Sep 2000-March 2004


DEAR BOY:
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Updated with New Afterword July 2005


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MOON:
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Listen to NPR's Weekend Edition piece on Keith Moon, from September 2003. Includes interviews with Tony Fletcher and Roger Daltrey.