Keith Moon at iJamming!

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

Updated with New Afterword July 2005




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

Word for word, anecdote for anecdote, insight for insight, Jeff Beck was probably the best interview I conducted for the Keith Moon biography.

And yet I didn’t have to do anything. Our meeting was arranged in a couple of phone calls, and when we got together (at his management office in London, summer of ‘96), he did just about all the talking. It quickly became clear that Beck had a story to tell - of his bizarre journey into Moon land in what must have been late 1973/early ‘74 - and he wanted to get it out there for posterity. But as we talked another, musically important prequel took shape, that of the “supergroup” Beck tried to form in 1966 with himself, Moon, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Nicky Hopkins. The five of them were able to get the classic instrumental ‘Beck’s Bolero’ on tape before Moon returned to the Who’s fold; the track showed up as the b-side to Beck’s wedding chestnut ‘Hi-Ho Silver Liining’ and also on the Jeff Beck Group’s first album, ‘Truth,’ recently re-released on CD. Keith then went back to the Who; Page and Jones formed Led Zeppelin. Beck didn’t do too badly himself.

Beck’s commentary of his weekend at Tara was so fluid that I printed it, almost without interruption, in the biography. For that reason, I thought there might be little point putting the transcript up on the web. But going back to the interview now, I see just how much more is in there than made it onto the printed page: details, asides, and moments of great comedy. You learn an awful lot about Moon from this transcript - and a fair amount about Beck as well.

Another reason I’m delighted to print this transcript is that, unlike so many '60s musicians who live in a time warp, Jeff Beck continues to strive forward musically. After staying off the solo map for a decade, he has released two albums in the last two years, both with a heavy accent on the arrangements, techniques and ambience of the digital/techno/electronic scene. Who Else! was heavy-going, as if he was finding his feet again after so long away, but the new album, You Had It Coming, is an exceptional work, opening with what sounds like heavy industrial techno then going on to take in familiar blues patterns, drum and bass rhythms, eastern influences and filmic textures, all enlivened and emboldened by his ever-phenomenal guitar playing. Would that other great musicians from rock’s goldern era be similarly open-minded and adventurous.

(You can read an interview with Beck about his current recordings here.)

Jeff Beck: Keith and I met at the Speakeasy or other clubs that were watering holes. When Carnaby Street first opened you could easily meet him down there. Every other day he got fed up with a shirt and got another one - he could afford it. But mostly in nightclubs. The Cromwellian, places like that. I got on with him the easiest. Townshend was a little bit, we were kind of....competition. I got on with Keith on a very loony level. It was a great therapy just being with him.

He also had a very soft side. Why he called me, why this event came around. . . It was more than a request for me to come round and have a look at this car that was for sale, because it [the car] was a pile of shit. It was unbelievable. It had taken root and there were weeds coming out of the seats He knew that I was into hot rods. It got around the business. He got Beach Boy mania. We used to drive around in his pink Rolls, lilac 60s lipstick colour, a '62 roller and being in the back with him playing Beach Boys was as close as you could get to a great night out. We used to drive through the underpass at Knightsbridge at 100 mph, and you had the Beach Boys playing. 'Don’t Worry Baby' was his favorite song. And he had a microphone hooked to an amplifier that was 12 volt amp, which in those days was a hi-tech deal. And the speaker used to come out of the radiator shell. We pulled up alongside this cyclist, or moped, and Keith said "dismount immediately" and he wobbled and came to an abrupt halt. Then he did the same thing 100 yards up the road to a police man on a motorbike. I was ducking. It was a fantastic night! By 7 o’clock we were blotto. We would drive up on the pavement - "excuse me I need to get into this shop now, I need to buy a new suit" - and he would jump out and come back again with a new suit and I hadn’t even got out of the car. Quite worrying really! Because after you’ve laughed solid for half an hour you don’t have any other form of expression. My jaws were aching, and I started wandering whether I was doing the right thing being with him. This is one mad night or day. We’d be up Wardour Street and he’d shout and scream at the marquee outside.

-He obviously loved it.

If he was in the Speak, you knew that it was worth going, even if it was a long way off. Because you’d get 10 minutes therapy or 2 minutes gem of a quotation. He took on the persona of Robert Newton. He could have done a movie on this guy, he loved him, he could portray him so accurately. He metarmophosed himself into this Newton character and then started talking with rock'n'roll overtones in a kind of surreal way that you could imagine robert newton as sitting next to you and not Keith Moon.

"Keith was like a keyhole on lunacy that I could always get access to. He illuminated you and made you think complete different thoughts than if you hadn’t ever known him."

-Did you feel like this was how he always was?

I thought it was him acting out some fantasy with the license to do so, because he was in a really really wild band. And playing the drums wasn’t quite enough. The way he played no one else could replace him. They could do a great job but would never have been Keith. He was just the nerve and bone marrow of the band.

. . .I think he had a soft spot for me whereas there was a lot of rivalry with the others. It was at least two years before Eric Clapton would acknowledge my presence.

Keith was like a keyhole on lunacy that I could always get access to. I’m not talking about in terms of he was my jester, he illuminated you and made you think complete different thoughts than if you hadn’t ever known him. And this time as in the toilets at the speakeasy, he said ‘Oh I have a Model T for sale if you’re interested.’ I said ‘could be’. I was always an enthusiast of hot rods and this was great car to start .. I thought it would be a great car to get for cheap parts even if I didn’t drive it.

We pre-arranged a date, and he met me and he was about 15 minutes late whereas I could have been waiting 3 days knowing Keith. I thought this is a miracle, he was on time. I didn’t have a clue where we were going. We picked a stretch of road. I was thinking ‘have you ever been had?’ I was parked on the right hand side facing the oncoming traffic thinking ‘he‘s got ahelicopter and a camera and he’s taking the piss.’ anyway he showed up and took me back there. It was the pyramid house with the sweeping lawns and cedar trees. (Tara.) It was a lovely place from the outside. We went inside, and he didn’t mention the car at all. I thought ‘I don’t give a shit about the car either because this is just great being here’ but I suddenly realised that he was a bachelor in the true sense of the word. There was girl lurking about...
He was married.

I think this was during a separation. She wasn’t around at all. This girl I'd met down some jazz festival where we were all playing. She was sweet, she wore a white leather jacket with fringes which I thought was cool. Keith just seemed to be in a sort of strange cocoon, even though he revealed a really warm side that I’d never seen before - where he wasn’t round anybody else and had to show off, he was reflecting. I don’t know if I was wanted there for the hot rod sale or not. It was a absurd looking car, it had a steering heel made of chain, the welded chain links used on Mexican cars. And the spokes went straight to the floor, it was this Bizarre Beach Boys 60's Hot Rod, but it was embarrassing. Even though I was fairly new to building my own cars I knew this was a disaster on wheels, He said ’well if you don’t want to buy it I’ll give it to you.’ we came down in increments, I said ‘I might be able to use the engine and transmission and windshield,’ he said ‘I’ll give it to you’ and I still didn’t want it! It had luminous green candy floss carpet. I think he’d driven it but it was a Jago car (Jeff Jago, bless his heart, building hot rods down in Chichester, he didn’t quite get the plot when it came to interpreting the hotrod culture), he said ‘I’ll give it to you I’ll even deliver it’ I said ‘Keith the more I think about it the more I hate this car.’ so he said 'well that’s got the business out of the way, let’s go have a drink.’

I think there was a genuine attempt at level thinking, although the thought of it being mobile in the foreseeable future was slim. He had just let this car go. He didn’t really know what it was. I think it was a call for a social thing. I hope so. Because it as the only chance we ever got away from the lunacy of the gigs and clubs.

Then the evening came on. He had this jukebox going, this fabulous Rockola jukebox. I thought ‘oh dear I’m going to get all Keith’s records all night.’

-Who else was there?

Just me and Keith. He showed me round the house and it was covered in dog shit. Opened up all the closets he had custom made, every single one was a disaster, stuff fell out on the floor and he didn’t put it back. All kinds of stuff, tennis rackets... It was like if the director had said ‘action’ and coordinated the most incredible stunt of collapsing things, that was it.
I think he was pretty lonely - but this girl was there. She was very tan and very attractive.
I’ll have to remember it as I tell it. I often think about it. I think I was right there in that house and could probably have struck up a really good friendship with him, but because I was equally screwy at that time there was no chance.

We got close, with the jukebox thing that had this great jukebox sound and all these great records that I had held close to myself since 1954-56. It had ‘Beck’s Bolero’ on there that I was extremely proud of. Played with John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page, the original Led Zeppelin.

(Beck decides to tell the story of ‘Beck’s Bolero’ first.) I was trying to get a band together and trying to get Keith out of the Who because he was having a bit of trouble. I must have talked him into it in a drunken moment of abandon. He turned up in a cab at IBC Studios in Langham Place. I set up the studio to do this secret launch. We had a half-baked song, Jimmy and I , we didn’t have to play it more than twice and they were on it. We did 4 or 5 cuts and it just sounded and felt like we shouldn’t go anywhere else - we should just get rehearsing and carry this band. But unfortunately legal problems crept in, and Keith, what he was doing as giving a 2 fingered gesture to the Who, because he could do this and once he found security in the knowledge thath e could do this, he probably went back and said ‘right I know I’m safe with these guys if all else fails,’ but it didn’t. They came to some agreement.

It was on the album ‘Truth,’ I put it on there as filler. we couldn’t say his name for contractual reasons. And the b-side of ‘Hi-Ho Silver Lining.’ It was a very disappointing thing not to continue with that because Pagey and I, we were like two kids in a candy store.

-That was the only song that ended up on there?

I don’t recall any others. Though I have another song somewhere. That was when we started to get real palsy. And then as business goes, we all had our tours to go off on.

-It’s a wild track cos he comes in half way through.

You hear him scream, and at the same moment he screams, he knocks the microphone off the stand and then he disappears (Laughs) That was the most magical moment. That was Keith on the record, doing what he does on the record and it was scary to hear it on the multitrack.

He does play quite reservedly early on, you can hear his bass drum going, then when we come to the bridge he screams and does a roll. And then the cymbal fill is so wild, that he actually smashes the mike, deliberately, because he’s in that vicinity of the mike. Boff! Kicks the Mike off with a stick, and then you don’t hear the drum again. And that’s the tape we used! By that time we were leaking into one another’s mikes anyway, but what does it say for Glyn Johns engineering when he says ‘that’s the best take you’ve done’ and there’s the Mike lying on the floor?!

"I’m watching the Who going from strength to strength with a fantastic powerful drummer and knowing that that was what I really needed to get myself going. I was never content being in the Yardbirds."

Beck on splitting the Yardbirds and trying to get Keith Moon to form a band with him.
It was me, John paul jones, Nicky Hopkins, Jimmy Page and Keith Moon. We all expected great things to come from it, and then when Keith couldn’t do it, it took the sails out of the whole thing.

-Do you think he was using you at all? To see if he had a gig outside the Who?

No, it was something to do with Jimmy and I. I had done sessions for Jimmy. He used to get me to do all the shit he didn’t want me to do. He used to get me to pick him up in my car and pay for the petrol and find out he was on the session anyway. When he heard what I was doing on the sessions, it was wasted on these french rockers no one had ever heard of, and then he started taking an interest in my style, and then we went from there. And then the yardbirds got in the way - I can’t remember the sequence of events. I remember thinking ‘why can’t I have what I want instead of what I’ve got?’ That’s always the way. To have someone who’s so musically ware and talented alongside me as Jim was something i could really do wit. But that wasn’t to be until later on in the Yardbirds. Meanwhile I’m watching the Who going from strength to strength with a fantastic powerful drummer and knowing that that was what I really needed to get myself going. So it was a guiding light in one sense and fragmented what I already had. I was never content being in the Yardbirds, and I left Jim to paddle his canoe in the Yardbirds.

So that was a momentous recording studio thing. 2 days. Everyone was aghast, ‘these guys don’t even need to rehearse’ just a run through and bang! We’re in. 3 or 4 songs came out of it of which only ‘Bolero’ saw the light of day and one other had a finished melody. We just loved recording. Because the sound was for the first time out of the clutches of BBC types. Ironically that’s coming back in now. But we wanted harmonic distortion, we wanted the right kind of bite to the sound so that no matter where you played it you got that effect. That’s what I still maintain that’s what people are looking for.

-Was Keith at all in awe of anyone he was working with?

Oh yeah, i think he knew this was pretty serious. John Paul Jones was the highest respected bass players session man around, and Jimmy was there, ironically playing rhythm guitar - well, it was my record. It was almost a big enough animal for him to want to get involved. But obviously he must have gone away and thought ‘Hmm this means starting all over again, wit out a vocalist.’ I think if we had a tight enough crook round his neck and a vocalist we might have held on to him.



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