When a Who Fan Subbed For Keith Moon On Stage

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634_large_1“Can anybody play the drums?” an exasperated Pete Townshend asked the crowd at San Francisco’s Cow Palace towards the end of a trying set. “We mean somebody good.”

Before going onstage for the first show of The Who‘s “Quadrophrenia” tour, Keith Moon had washed down a handful of tranquilizers – maybe horse, maybe human, reports vary – with some brandy. To Moonie’s credit, he did make it through 14 songs before slowing down and passing out onto his drum kit on “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

The comatose drummer was carried offstage by the band’s roadies who gave him a cold shower and/or an injection of cortisone. He returned to stage some 30 minutes later for an encore of “Magic Bus” and crapped out again. The band played “See Me, Feel Me” without drums. Then Townshend made his query.

Drummer Scot Halpin was at the front of the stage with a friend, who began hollering to nearby security staff and pointing to Halpin. “He can play!” It caught the ear of promoter Bill Graham. “Can you do it?” he asked Helpin.

“Yes,” the drummer replied. He was taken to the kit, given a shot of brandy, and played “Smokestack Lightning,” “Spoonful” and “Naked Eye” with The Who. He took his bow with the band, and was taken backstage and given a Who your jacket (which was stolen from him later that night).

A fan’s dream come true. He was just 19 years old. At the 6-minute mark of the footage below, Townshend asks the crowd, “Can anybody play the drums?”

Watch Scot Halpin perform with The Who that night

Halpin followed a musical path. After earning a Masters degree from San Francisco State University, he became a composer in residence at Headlands Center for the Arts in the Bay Area. Sadly, Halpin passed away in 2008 of a brain tumor at 54. His wife and son survived him. So does The Who.

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4 Comments so far

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  1. Paco
    #1 Paco 21 November, 2019, 00:55

    One of the most legendary stories in Rock ‘ n Roll history. Every drummer’s dream…

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  2. Alanna
    #2 Alanna 24 November, 2020, 11:56

    I have to wonder why there wasn’t at least one roadie that could have done it. Aren’t roadies just frustrated musicians??

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    • Onteo
      Onteo 21 November, 2021, 08:29

      Or have a drum tech like with Charlie Watts. Scot was probably nervous enough but to have Pete coming back every few minutes checking on ya musta been killer.

      Reply this comment
  3. Marty
    #3 Marty 21 November, 2022, 14:40

    Being at the right place at the right time is surely a blessing. Later that year on December 31 the Allman Brothers Band held an amazing concert at the Cow Palace. Must’ve been a special time at a special place. Keep UP the great work.

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