Interview for Radio 2, by Ian C.
Hi Ian, yeah, my shoulder is still messed up. I started physiotherapy last Friday, on it, and the physio thinks the outcome will be right. So I ’ve got 3 sessions this week, and more after that. I 'am' working on a project, that will put me in London, July 9-12th, in London, so I’m doing absolutely nothing until then, apart from getting this injury healed up. It ’s great to be part of the program, but don't know how much I can really contribute, due to the short time that I knew Keith. I’ve got a couple of anecdotes about hanging out with him, and my over-all impression of him, and of course there's the day that I auditioned for 'the Who', in which we all got together and just jammed for hours, me, Pete, John, Roger, and Keith. Just the 4 of us. I was the last guy they auditioned, and after we jammed, they didn't audition anyone else. I've been there ever since, so I guess I got the job. After the audition, Keith insisted that he give me a ride back to London in his limo. Me and him were buzzed about how well the audition went, and how much fun it was. He wanted me to ride back with him and get to know me better. Boy, what a night that turned out to be. On the way back, Keith played me his own demos. He had the volume up so loud, that I swear I couldn't even describe one track I heard. It was decibels, not music. I yelled to him, "nice noise, Keith." Anyway, Keith decided that the success of the day warranted a celebration, so he decided to take me to 'Morton ’s club for a drink. I told him okay, but just for a little while. I needed to get home. When we arrived at 'Morton ’s, we got out of Keith’s limo, which was parked next to another limo. and he immediately jumped on the other limos bonnet, climbed on the roof, and just started jumping up and down on top of it. I got embarrassed as hell, and thought we were gonna be killed by the guy who owned it. Keith was yelling his head off, and I heard him yell, "I can do this to anybody else's motor, but nobody can do it to mine!" I guess he was calling in his aces for who he happened to be. He could get away with it because he was 'Keith moon', and no body would dare do to his car, what he's doing to somebody else ’s. I left him there, and quietly snuck into the club, as if I was alone. I didn't want to claim that I was with the guy who was destroying somebody's limo outside the club, in full view. I guess he got bored jumping on that car, so he came into the club. It was great. There was loads of musos there, having fun, screaming and yelling to get above the noise. It was terrific! I finally made it to the big time. I was partying with Keith moon. We stayed awhile, then I said I had to go. Keith said, "No you don ’t! You’re coming home with me for a drink at my pad". So it looks like my nite ain't over yet. We went back to his pad, and we were stinking drunk. His little Swedish girlfriend did her best to control us, but it was hopeless. They had brand new 'white, deep flush carpets' just put in their flat. Keith didn't care. The red wine came out, me and him were drinking it like water, and spilling it all over the white carpet. His girlfriend said, "look what you're doing! You ’re ruining the carpet." Keith grunted back, "I don't give a shit! Me and my mate Rabbit are having fun. Get some more wine out!". At that point, I could see that it was indeed time for me to leave. It must have been 3 in the morning. I managed to get the girlfriend to get me a taxi outta there. Finally, I ’m on my own. Keith is at home, or maybe not. Who knows what he did after I left. But I was so drunk after hanging out with him, that for some insane reason I thought I would pull a fast one on the taxi driver. It must have been Moon influenced, after what I had just gone through. So as the taxi was turning right into oxford street, I decided to get out of the car, and run away without paying, just as a joke, a prank. My head was spinning so much, that I thought the taxi had actually stopped, so I opened the door, and started to step out. In fact the taxi was still moving, so my legs buckled under me when my feet touched the road, and I fell out of the taxi as it turned right. I went tumbling and rolling down Oxford Street, only to look up and see all the cars headlights coming towards me, brakes screeching, horns honking. I jumped up, and ran off and took refuge in the back of some late night restaurant, so not to be discovered by the taxi driver, who obviously saw me go in, as he gave chase. He wanted his money. A Copper came in with him, and said pay up or go to the police station. the restaurant owner was in shock. I paid up, and left the restaurant. The cop said to go home and stay out of trouble. It felt like I was a little kid, being told for being mischievous. I felt very Keith Moon. I nearly got away with it, or did I!? The only problem with the situation was that somehow I broke my hand. I thought it must have been in the fall, but having thought about it some more, I do remember the taxi driver grabbing hold of my wrist, and twisting it so hard, I felt and heard it snap. It was him, I know it was. He was mad as hell! So I woke up the next day, called Bill Curbishely and told him I couldn't be in the band after all cause I broke my hand. Bill asked me how it happened, and I told him I got drunk a fell out of a taxi.
He said, "look rabbit, we already have a Keith Moon, and we don't need or want another one. Maybe we better hold off and look somewhere else for a keyboard player. Why did you try to get out of a taxi, and what were you doing that would drive you to do such a thing?" I said to Bill, "I spent most of the night with Keith last night, after our audition, and we got plastered." Bill laughed, and said, "well that's a different story then. Everybody is entitled to one mistake, and you just made yours hanging out with Keith. Now you know better. Just let us know when your hand is healed, and you're still in the band." Nice one bill thanks. He has saved my life lots of times since then... Then Keith died, and I guess the rest of the guys were determined to finish what we started, so we got another drummer in, Kenny Jones, and kept going. The rest is history...
Before I met the guys from the who, I was working in my own band, 'Crawler', with a couple of Texas mates, Tony Braunagel on drums, and Terry Wilson on bass, along with 2 British guys, Geoff Whitehorn on guitar and Terry Slesser on vocals. Plus, I was doing lots of session work as well. On one of these sessions, while I was doing an album with Joan Armatrading, produced by Glen Johns, is when I first met Pete. Glen was due to produce an album with Pete and Ronnie lane, called 'Rough Mix', and I suppose as they were discussing which musos to hire, the situation of who was gonna fill the keyboard role came up. That ’s when Glen told Pete about me, and that I had been working with Glen on various albums he was producing, including Andy Fairweather-Lowe's 'Wide Eyed and Legless' single, and his albums 'La Booga Rooga', and 'Be-Bop n' Holla'. Glen invited Pete to come to the studio while we were working, so me and Pete could meet face to face. It was a great pleasure. The first time I met Pete, his hand was out-stretched, waiting for a big ole' Texas handshake'. He was very warm towards me. I think he twigged that I was the guy from the band 'free', which I know he was into. So when we met, he sort of knew me all ready from my playing on the free records. So, it was all set up for me to play keys on the 'Rough Mix' album. Great! In fact, when we did the album, it went so great, that I’ve been working for Pete ever since. That was in 1976...
Anyway, to get back to Keith, as I said, I was working in Crawler, and we had an office in Soho. I used to go there for meetings, when all of a sudden, one time I went in, and sitting on the couch was Keith Moon, in the foyer of the office. As I past him, he said, "Howdy Rabbit". I must say now though, that I didn't know it was Keith, because I only knew Pete, and had never met any of the other guys, so I didn't recognise him. Can you believe that!? What planet have I been on!?... I went into my meeting with the crawler guys, and our manager, 'Abe Hoch', said to me,
"Rabbit, what's he doing out there?" I said, "Who, that guy sitting on the couch? I don't know. He just said hello to me. Who is he?" My manager said, “What!? That’s Keith Moon, the drummer from the Who. What's he doing in our office?! Again I said, "how the hell do I know? I don't even know who he is!? We went on with our meeting, and when I came out to leave, Keith was no longer sitting there. He had left. For the next few weeks, when I came in for meetings, there he was again, sitting on the couch, and when I ’d pass him, he'd say, "Howdy Rabbit", and when I’d come out, he'd be gone again. It completely confused everybody. Why was Keith Moon always in our office, when I came in for meetings? Well, as time has now passed, I have my own theory about it. I think he was there checking me out. I think Pete must have mentioned to the other guys in the who, that he's found a keyboard player that he liked to work with, and I think Keith put 2 and 2 together, and figured he'd better check me out. It must have intrigued him, there's a guy running around who calls himself, 'Rabbit'. What kind of name is that? He had to search me out, and discover for himself, what the guy with the stupid name is really like... Anyway, time moved on, I did my 'Crawler' bit, and Pete kept in touch, just talking, nothing in particular. One day I was working on Andy Fairweather's 'Wide Eyed and Legless' single, with Glen Johns, at the Who's 'Ramport Studios' in London. I noticed that Pete, and the Who's manager, Bill Curbishley were also there, up in their offices, doing their 'Who' thing. But when my session with glen was over, and I was about to leave, Pete asked me to come upstairs for a word with him and Bill Curbishley, so I did. I went into their office at the studio, and Bill started the conversation. He said, "Rabbit, what are you doing at the moment". I said, "well, I do a lot of sessions, and I ’m in a band called Crawler, and we make records and tour, supporting main acts in the USA."
Then Bill said, "well, would you consider leaving your band and joining the Who?".... My first reaction was that I already had a band, and I ’m the boss in that one, and I like being my own boss. Then it hit me! Hey, Rabbit, this is the Who you’re talking to, not some second rate outfit. So I said to Bill and Pete, "When?" Bill said, "now." I said, "sorry guys, I can't. I got to finish my tour with crawler, in the USA. What a drag. Thanks anyway". They nearly busted out laughing. Here was a guy who was gonna turn down joining the Who, just because he had a tour to finish. Bill said, "That ’s okay, if you want to, finish off you're tour, and when it's over, come and join us. We ’ll wait." So, I immediately said, "you're on!"... I went and finished my crawler tour, and came back to England, and have been with the Who ever since... That was in 1979... Now it's the year 2001, we have Zak Starkey on drums, and it's brilliant!