On November 20th, 1974, Keith Moon, also known as Moon the Loon, drummer for The Who, collapsed during a concert after his drink was spiked with animal tranquillizer. This took place a few hours before their concert before an audience of 14,000 people at San Francisco Cow Palace.
That evening Moon arrived at the venue with a young female fan on his arm. Keith was always jittery before a show, and when she offered him something to calm his nerves, he accepted.
Precisely what Moon took or even how it got into his system is still the subject of speculation. Some say it was all an accident, and he and his friend had their drinks spiked. The most popular story, however, is that Moon necked a handful of ‘elephant tranquilizers’ washed down with a glass of brandy. Either way, whatever the pair took certainly contained PCP, commonly known as ‘angel dust’, a chemical used to tranquillize animals.
Halpin and his friend, Mike Danese, travelled from their hometown of Monterey, California, for the Who’s show. It was the first night of the band’s US tour, and completely sold out. They bought tickets from a tout and managed to get close to the stage. But as soon as the concert began Halpin noticed something was amiss: “You could tell Keith Moon was messed up.”
Halpin and his friend, Mike Danese, travelled from their hometown of Monterey, California, for the Who’s show at the San Francisco Cow Palace. It was the first night of the band’s US tour, and completely sold out. They bought tickets from a tout and managed to get close to the stage. But as soon as the concert began Halpin noticed something was amiss: “You could tell Keith Moon was messed up.”
Moon collapsed one time and returned later on to have another event of collapsing backwards. That second collapse is the magical moment of Today’s in Music History.
One of my guitar heroes, Pete Townshend, asked for a really good drummer:
PETE TOWNSEND: Can anybody play the drums?
As Halpin told to NPR’s reporter, Scott Simon, he recalled the moment his friend Danese pushed him to the front:
HALPIN: Yes. Yes. My friend, Mike Danese, basically was pushing me forward to do this, and really interfacing with Bill Graham once he got there, nose to nose. And so he looks to me square in the eye and says, Can you do it? And I said yes, straight out
Scot Halpin was a 19-year-old student who had left the cornfields of Iowa for the schools of San Francisco, and hadn’t sat behind a drum kit in over a year.
Security escorted the two to the edge of the stage, and the promoter leaned in close to be heard above the screaming audience. He shouted, “Can you do it?”
Halpin simply said, “Yes.” A roadie offered Halpin a quick shot of brandy to loosen his nerves. A moment later the 19-year-old was perched behind Moon’s kit, listening attentively to Pete Townsend’s West London accent. “Watch me. I’m going to lead you. I’m going to cue you,” Townsend said. Theguitarist was both grateful and sympathetic to the young man.
Halpin played for almost fifteen minutes. After the show ended, he accompanied the band bacstage and they gave him a tour jacket that was later stolen that same night.
Scot Halpin became an artist and moved back to Bloomington, Indiana where he passed away on 2008.
If you want to know more about Scot Halpin and his art, make sure to visit this link: T-Scot Halpin Fan Club.