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The Kids are not Alright: Keith Moon’s 1975 solo record that made Brian Wilson cry

A vintage print ad for Keith Moon’s 1975 solo record, ‘Two Sides of the Moon’ that I’m guessing the Mighty Boosh have seen?
Today’s post is an amusing historical account of what happened when a record company (in this case MCA) decided it was a good idea to give admitted tone deaf drummer Keith Moon $200 grand to make his very first (and last) solo album, Two Sides of the Moon, back in the mid-70s.

As the story goes Moon assembled a powerful gang of musical accomplices including Spencer Davis, surf-guitar master Dick Dale, Harry Nilsson, Ringo Starr and Joe Walsh among others to play on Two Sides. The album also included cover versions of songs written by members of The Beatles, Nilsson, as well a song penned by Moonie’s buddy Pete Townshend, the anthemic jam “The Kids are Alright.” How could this heady concoction be considered anything less than a total slam-dunk? Not just for Moon but also for The Who and their legions of fans? Well, if you know anything about Keith Moon then the answer to that question is quite simple: Keith Moon liked to party. A lot. And so did Keith Moon’s friends. A lot. And that pretty much sums up the record for the most part.

Many of the songs on the album really feel like a recording session held during happy hour—which I’m pretty sure most recording sessions that occurred during the 70s were. I mean Black Sabbath hoovered $75,000 up their noses recording Vol. 4 in 1972 so there’s that. At any rate, Moon’s musical happy hour was full of talented booze-swilling rock stars armed with microphones and instruments. Which while that sounds like guaranteed good times, it didn’t necessarily translate to Two Sides actually sounding good. It’s also important to note that Moon only slugged away on his famous kit for three of the album’s ten songs and much preferred to sing. A term that should be used somewhat loosely as it pertains to Keith’s vocals on Two Sides of the Moon. It is rumored that when Beach Boy Brian Wilson heard Moon’s cover of the song he wrote with LA DJ Roger Christian, “Don’t Worry Baby,” he burst into tears. Now that’s just plain sad.

The cheeky back cover of Keith Moon’s solo record, ‘Two Sides of the Moon.’
While it’s easy to tear down Moon’s Two Sides for many reasons, it is not without its endearing qualities. Such as Moon’s cover of “In My Life” the 1965 heart-string tugging Beatles’ song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. “Solid Gold” written by Nickey Barclay of Fanny is also a highlight as it includes the sparkly sounds of coveted backup vocalist Sherlie Matthews. I also can’t hate on Moon’s version of “The Kids Are Alright” even though it sounds like it was recorded in a garage by a bunch of high school-aged rockers who were gonna “make it” someday.

As you might imagine the story behind the record is full of rock ‘n’ roll folklore such as the rumor that David Bowie provided backing vocals on the album. (For the record, he probably didn’t and Bowie isn’t credited on Two Sides either.) In 2008, Moon’s solo swan song was again reissued by Castle to include an indulgent number of recordings, 51 in all, including hilarious outtakes like Mr. Moon blathering about Judy Garland and ranting that MCA Records needs to give him more money.

More Moon after the jump…

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‘I’m A Boy’: The many fantastic times Keith Moon dressed up in full-on drag back in the 1970s
10:31 am


Keith Moon
The Who

The cover of Trouser Press magazine featuring Keith Moon, #14, June/July 1976.
According to super-groupie Pamela Des Barres, during the time she dated Keith Moon for about a year, Moon seemed to be happiest when he was “anyone but himself.” During their short time together, Des Barres recalls that Moon enjoyed dressing up in her clothes and “frolicking” in her high-heels in the middle of the night, as well as trading “sexes” for kicks from time to time. Let there be no mistake, in the 32 short years Keith Moon walked among us mere mortals, he really lived every moment like it was his last.

Keith Moon in drag with Pamela Des Barres.
Dougal Butler, Moon’s personal assistant who was with Moon for ten tumultuous years, would refer to The Who’s timekeeper as a “heterosexual drag queen” who frequently enjoyed acting like a “ginger beer” (a “ginger beer” is a Cockney rhyming slang for “queer”) and was happiest when he could “get ahold of a dress or two.” Dougal, who authored two books on Moon, Full Moon: The Amazing Rock and Roll Life of the Late Keith Moon and Moon the Loon, noted of all of Moon’s many drag ensembles, the drummers favorite was anytime he could dress up in full regalia like an actual Queen.

In 1972 as the emcee of “The Ultimate ROQ Concert” festival for KROQ FM at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum that featured co-headliners Sly and the Family Stone and the Bee Gees (as well as Stevie Wonder among others), Moon appeared on stage dressed in silver sequins (a particular number he would wear many times to many events, pictured above), makeup and a blonde wig when he introduced the shows “special added attraction” Sha-Na-Na. Des Barres recalls in her book, I’m With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie, that she and Moon shared a dressing room with the Bee Gees, who got to watch the perpetually drunk Moonie’s many “wardrobe” changes. Yes.

Of course if you are a fan of The Who, then you’ve probably seen some of the photographic outtakes or magazine adverts from the band’s, 1971’s Who’s Next that feature Mr. Moon cheesecaking it up in ladies lingerie, full makeup and brunette and blonde wigs. In issue #14 of Trouser Press magazine (June/July 1976), the cover (seen at the top of this post) had a side-by-side image of Moon that amusingly suggested that Keith had a “split personality” of sorts. The image included a photo of Moon dressed in drag (and looking super hot I might add), for his gig as the emcee for two shows at New York’s Carnegie Hall with Sha-Na-Na and Cheech and Chong (during which, according to a news item from Billboard Magazine in 1972, Moon sat in on the drums during Sha Na Na’s set. WHAT?). A gig for which Moon flew from England to New York for one night’s work. Keith Moon’s unwavering dedication to having a good time truly (and quite sadly), knew no bounds. 

“Won’t Get Fooled Again” ad featuring Keith Moon vamping it up in ladies lingerie, 1971.
More Moon the Loon, after the jump…

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Who are You??? That time Keith Moon OD’d onstage and was replaced by a member of the audience

It’s like a Boy’s Own story. You’re at a concert with your best friend, watching your favorite band, when the drummer collapses on stage. The call goes out, “Is there a drummer in the house?” Next thing you know, your buddy has pushed you into the spotlight and there you are playing the drums with your rock star heroes.

This actually happened to one Scot Halpin when he turned up to see his favorite band The Who open their Quadrophenia tour at the 14,000 seater Cow Palace in Daly City, San Francisco, back in November of 1973. Halpin and his buddy arrived twelve hours before the concert was set to begin. They wanted to ensure they had the best seats in the house up near the front of the stage. This was to prove fortuitous for both Halpin and for the band themselves, for an hour into The Who’s gig—during “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in fact—Keith Moon passed out at his drums and was carried off the stage.

The house lights came up. Guitarist Pete Townshend announced:

“We’re just gonna revive our drummer by punching him in the stomach. He’s out cold. I think he’s gone and eaten something he shouldn’t have eaten. It’s your foreign food. The horrible truth is that without him, we aren’t a group.”

There was a thirty-minute intermission while Moon was revived backstage with “a cold shower.” The Who returned to the stage and resumed playing. But not for long. Moon collapsed again and this time he he could not be revived so easily.
Moon the Loon.
It was later discovered what had actually transpired: Moon had ingested a massive quantity of veterinary tranquilizers, which he then washed down with his customary bottle or two of brandy. The rest of the band: Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend and John Entwistle carried on performing—Daltrey filling-in for Keith’s drums with a tambourine. It wasn’t exactly working. Townshend once more stepped toward the mic and asked:

“Can anybody play the drums? I mean someone good!”

This was the moment when Halpin’s buddy started yelling at the stage crew that yes, his friend was a drummer and boy could he play. Which was true up to a point. Halpin could play but was out of practice as he hadn’t picked up his sticks in nearly a year.

What happened next surprised both band and audience and has become the stuff of legend. Concert promoter, Bill Graham approached Halpin and pulled him up onto the stage.

“Graham just looked at me and said, ‘Can you do it?’ And I said ‘Yes,’ straight out. Townshend and Daltrey look around and they’re as surprised as I am, because Graham put me up there.”

A roadie then gave Halpin a shot of Moon’s brandy.

“Then I got really focused, and Townshend said to me, ‘I’m going to lead you. I’m going to cue you.’”

Townshend introduced him simply as “Scot” and launched into a couple of blues standards “Smokestack Lightning” and “Spoonful.” Halpin acquitted himself well. He kept good time and followed Townshend’s lead. Next up was the Who’s “Naked Eye” which proved far more tricky with its contrasting tempos. Halpin kept his cool and managed a steady beat throughout.
Scot Halpin fills for Moon with The Who.
It was the band’s last number. Halpin deservedly took his bow alongside Townshend, Daltrey and Entwistle. Backstage they thanked “...the skinny kid from the audience for stepping to the plate” but who “didn’t hang around long after the show.”

“They were very angry with Keith and sort of fighting among themselves,” Halpin said. “It was the opening date on their ‘Quadrophenia’ tour, and they were saying, ‘Why couldn’t he wait until after the show (if he wanted to get high)?”

Daltrey, who’d begun drinking Jack Daniels from the bottle at that point, told the substitute they’d pay him $1,000 for his efforts, and a roadie gave him a tour jacket on the spot. “Then everyone split,” Halpin said. “My friend and I both had long drives ahead of us, so we loaded up on all the free food that was put out for the band, and we both headed for home.”

In the meantime, someone stole the tour jacket that Halpin had just received as a gift.

Halpin received favorable mention in the next day’s Chronicle review. He received a nice letter from the band but no money - not that it mattered.

The event was commemorated by Rolling Stone magazine who honored Halpin with “Pick-Up Player of the Year 1973.”  Interviewed at the time, Halpin praised The Who’s stamina, saying:

“I only played three numbers and I was dead.”

More on the night Moon the Loon was replaced by a member of the audience, after the jump…

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Footage of Keith Moon crashing a Led Zeppelin gig then jamming with the band in 1977
08:49 am


Led Zeppelin
Keith Moon

Keith Moon sitting at John Bonham's drum kit while Jimmy Page looks on, June 23rd, 1977
Keith Moon sitting at John Bonham’s drum kit while Jimmy Page looks on, June 23rd, 1977.
While many (most?) drunken escapades end up badly—but especially when they’re taking place in front of thousands of people—the time The Who’s antic-prone timekeeper Keith Moon crashed a Led Zeppelin gig in 1977, was thankfully not such an occasion.
Keith Moon and Robert Plant on stage at the Forum in Los Angeles, June 23, 1977
Keith Moon and Robert Plant on stage at the Forum in Los Angeles, June 23, 1977.
Keith Moon sitting behind John Bonham's mythical drum kit, June 23, 1977
Keith Moon sitting behind John Bonham’s mythical drum kit, June 23, 1977.
On June 23rd, 1977, the perpetually drunk Keith Moon unexpectedly joined Led Zeppelin onstage at the Forum in Los Angeles, along with his bongos and a tambourine during “Moby Dick” and the band’s encore. At one point after Moon’s impromptu materialization, he commandeered Robert Plant’s microphone and began to regale the crowd before Plant, who was chopping away behind Bonham’s kit, shut him down.

The action with Moon, who engages in what I can only describe as an awesome “drum duel” of sorts with Bonham, starts at about 5:40. Sadly, it would turn out to be the last time Moon would perform on U.S. soil as he passed away just over a year later in September of 1978 at the all-too-young age of 32. Bonzo wouldn’t last that much longer himself, dying in his sleep on September 24, 1980. He was also just 32 years old.

After the jump, watch footage of Keith Moon crashing Led Zeppelin’s party at the Los Angeles Forum in 1977…

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A groupie’s tales: Pamela Des Barres’ sexy stories of Morrison, Jagger & Waylon, now animated!

Pamela Des Barres was the original rock and roll groupie, a founding member of the GTOs (which, as Stanley Booth wrote, could stand for “Girls Together Outrageously or Orally or anything else starting with O”), and lover to Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Keith Moon, Gram Parsons, Waylon Jennings, and many others.

The woman can obviously spin a tale, what with several books to her name; her 1987 memoir I’m with the Band is essential reading for anyone interested in the sex lives of major 1960s and 1970s rock stars. (Kirkus called it “a classic account of rampant narcissism among guitar egomaniacs,” which seems about right.)

In this amusing short animated by Evan York, Des Barres tells stories of her sexual adventures as a groupie, including encountering a naked Mick Jagger (she was still a virgin at the time), coaxing Waylon Jennings into his long-haired outlaw phase, and watching as Keith Moon perpetrated an epic prank on a major hotel.


Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Cynthia Plaster Caster, Pamela Des Barres & others in the fascinating 1970 doc ‘Groupies’

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Who Are You: Did Keith Moon play drums on a 1976 ‘Doonesbury’ novelty record?

Doonesbury fans will already be familiar with the character of “Jimmy Thudpucker,” Garry Trudeau’s device for commenting on the then-new archetype of the big-time 70s rock and roll star. As Wikipedia has it, “He is generally seen as a combination of Bob Dylan and John Denver (and to some extent, Loudon Wainwright III), and became a rock star in the seventies, when he was only 19. Others have compared Thudpucker to a young Jackson Browne.” To my way of thinking, Jackson Browne is generic enough to serve as an ideal model for Thudpucker; that seems about right.

Dangerous Minds readers will remember the recent post we did about the 1977 Doonesbury TV special. It turns out that there was a similar cross-pop culture injection around the same time—I refer to the Jimmy Thudpucker LP release: Jimmy Thudpucker’s Greatest Hits, released on John Denver’s Windsong label in 1977.
Jimmy Thudpucker's Greatest Hits
“Jimmy” was accompanied by “the Walden West Rhythm Section”—in the Doonesbury universe, “Walden” is Trudeau’s stand-in for Yale University.

The Walden West Rhythm Section featured some of the best session musicians available—and crazily enough, the ad-hoc outfit may have included Keith Moon for at least a little bit. Let’s look at the evidence. What’s crystal clear is that the core of Thudpucker’s backup band was made up of some very familiar names such as the album’s producer, Steve Cropper, who also played guitar; bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn; guitarist Jay Graydon; legendary session drummer Jeff Porcaro. Of course, Cropper and Dunn are both legendary figures from Booker T and the MGs; and Porcaro was a member of Toto, which formed around the same time; whereas Jay Graydon awesomely nailed the guitar solo on Steely Dan’s 1977 song “Peg.” (In fact, a number of 1977 Doonesbury strips centered on a character called Jay “Wah-Wah” Graydon.)

So far, so good, right? Still no evidence of Keith Moon. But wait. The ninth track on the album is “Ginny’s Song”—it was released as a single and (I think) came out a year or so before the album—on Warner Bros., not Windsong; that is, it may have been an entirely different session. (“Ginny” was a reference to “Virginia Slade,” an important African-American character from the early years of the strip.) Here’s a screenshot from the video linked below, of a YouTube user playing the “Ginny’s Song” single and also showing the sleeve artwork.
Keith Moon
Well, well! Another clue is that Steve Cropper was listed as one of the producers of Keith Moon’s 1975 solo album Two Sides of the Moon.

True to Thudpucker’s essence as a cobbled-together stand-in to represent any number of actual musicians, the tracks on Greatest Hits are all over the map. Sometimes, as on “You Can’t Fight It,” the music has a sultry, funky edge; “I Do Believe” is a pure Dylan parody; “Ginny’s Song” is white soul/pop hybrid.

The voice of Jimmy Thudpucker was actually James “Jimmy” Brewer, who, due to the in-joke nature of pretending that Thudpucker’s album was a real thing, à la Spinal Tap, was denied his due credit for his singing performance for, well, several decades. Here’s Brewer’s account, from a message board in May 2008:

I’m James “Jimmy” Brewer, the singer/songwriter who co-wrote the tunes and provided the voice for “Ginny’s Song,” the single for Warner Bros.; the film, “A Doonesbury Special,” and the LP, “Jimmy Thudpucker’s Greatest Hits,” released on Windsong Records.

For reasons still unknown to me, when all three projects were unveiled, Mr. Trudeau had completely removed my name from everything and had given the credit for my work to “Jimmy Thudpucker.” There was a “rumour,” circulated via many newspapers that regularly ran Doonesbury, that Trudeau was indeed secretly Jimmy Thudpucker. A number of the songs, including the two that were used in the film, were written before I ever met Mr. Trudeau.

I was the sole participant in all three projects whose work went totally uncredited. Twenty-five years later, after countless inquiries, he acknowledged me on his website.

“Ginny’s Song”

After the jump, all 10 tracks of Jimmy Thudpucker’s Greatest Hits…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Who: Perform the best live version of ‘Tommy’ at Tanglewood 1970

The Who give one of the best live performances of Tommy at Tanglewood, Lenox, Massachusetts, July 7th, 1970.

If anyone wants to know what The Who were like at their best, then they need only take a look at the talent, passion and energy of these 4 exceptional, young musicians, who together make this an incredible and unforgettable concert.

Track Listing

01.“Heaven and Hell”
02. “I Can’t Explain”
03. “Water”
04. “I Don’t Even Know Myself”
05. “Young Man Blues”
06. “Overture”
07. “It’s a Boy”
08. “1921”
09. “Amazing Journey”
10. “Sparks”
11. “Eyesight to the Blind”
12. “Christmas”
13. “The Acid Queen”
14. “Pinball Wizard”
15. “Do You Think It’s Alright?”
16. “Fiddle About”
17. “Tommy Can You Hear Me?”
18. “There’s a Doctor”
19. “Go to the Mirror!”
20. “Smash the Mirror”
21. “Miracle Cure”
22. “I’m Free”
23. “Tommy’s Holiday Camp”
24. “We’re Not Gonna Take It”
25. “See Me, Feel Me”
26. “My Generation”


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
When Keith Moon was barman to Ronnie Lane and Vivian Stanshall

Just a great photograph of Keith Moon as barman fixing drinks for Ronnie Lane, Vivian Stanshall and music journalist, Chris Welch.


DM reader dogmatique passed on the following message (via a friend of a friend, and the all-connecting power of the internet) in which Mr. Chris Welch explained some of the background to this wonderful photograph by Barrie Wentzell:

“It was a wonderful night at the Crown & Cushion where Keith was ‘mine host’ I only saw this photo by Barrie [Wentzell] fairly recently, years after the event and it brought back many memories. Sad to say I’m the only survivor of this jolly scene. Incidently Keith took his role in running the pub very seriously and was most excited about his latest purchase, a Microwave oven, the first we’d ever seen. An elderly customer demanded to see the manager to complain about the service, prompting Keith to bark ‘I AM the manager’. I now realise this was a ‘set up’ planned with Viv Stanshall for my benefit. Note we are ALL smoking. No ban in those days. Freedom man!”

Many thanks to dogmatique for passing on this info, and to Chris Welch.
Via nineteen67

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
One Black Beauty too many: The night Larry Hagman drove Keith Moon to rehab
01:41 am


Keith Moon
Larry Hagman

Larry Hagman in “Stardust.”
In this excerpt from British TV show The Real…, Larry Hagman spares no details in describing the time he drove Keith Moon to rehab after the drummer over-indulged in Black Beauties (amphetamine). Moon and Hagman were friends, having originally met on the set of Stardust, a 1973 movie about the Brit rock business starring David Essex.

Thanks to Charles Lieurance.

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GRIMMS: The most incredible 70’s Supergroup, you’ve probably never heard of

GRIMMS was a like a collision between a busload of musicians, a van full of comics and a mobile library. As Supergroups go, GRIMMS was certainly the most original, literary and possibly hirsute, with their mix of poetry, music, comedy and theater.

Assembled from the movable parts of the Bonzo Dog Band (Neil Innes, Vivian Stanshall), The Scaffold (John Gorman, Mike McGear, Roger McGough) and Liverpool Scene (Roger McGough, Andy Roberts). GRIMMS was an acronym of the surnames of the original line-up Gorman (whose idea it had been), Roberts, Innes, McGough, McGear, and Stanshall.

Neil Innes later said of the band’s formation:

“I don’t know what attracted the Scaffold to the Bonzos; we were incredibly anarchic, which was probably something shared by the Scaffold as well. Hence Grimms, this leap in the dark.”

We all know about the genius of The Bonzos, so let’s jump to The Scaffold, that strange hybrid pop band made up from John Gorman (who would go onto star in the children’s show Tiswas, and its adult counterpart OTT with Chris Tarrant and Alexei Sayle in the 1980s), Mike McGear (Paul McCartney’s brother), and poet Roger McGough, who had been one of the 3 Mersey Poets, and was a member of The Liverpool Scene. The Scaffold had chart success with their novelty records “Thank U Very Much”, “Lily the PInk” and “Liverpool Lou”, the last recorded with Paul McCartney and Wings

Liverpool Scene was the Liverpool Poets: McGough (works include Summer With Monika, After The Merrymaking), Brian Patten (works include Little Johnny’s Confession and Notes to the Hurrying Man) and Adrian Henri (The Mersey Sound), and musician Andy Roberts.

GRIMMS changed shape over the years as band members left, moved on or lost hair. These were quickly replaced by hats, wigs and some very special talents, including Keith Moon (The Who), Jon Hiseman (Colosseum), Michael Giles (King Crimson), John Megginson,  Gerry Conway, David Richards, Zoot Money, and future Rutles John Halsey and Peter “Ollie” Halsall.

Their first album Grimms was a lucky bag of comedy, poetry and music released in 1973, which included Innes’ songs “Humanoid Boogie”, “Short Blues” and “Twyfords Vitromant”, which was followed later the same year with Rockin’ Duck and in 1975 their final album the 5 star Sleepers.

Unlike most list documentaries today (which miss out on such diamonds as GRIMMS), the seventies was an incredible time of experimentation and risk-taking. In 1975, around the release of Sleepers, the BBC (gawd bless her and all who fail in her) produced a strange series called The Camera and The Song. It was like a collection of early pop promos, with a film-maker interpreting songs by different artists - some good, some bloody awful. Into this mix came GRIMMS, and here are 2 clips from the show (opening titles and songs) featuring the genius talents of Neil Innes and co. Lovely!

More from GRIMMS plus bonus track ‘Backbreaker’, after the jump…
With thanks to Robert Dayton

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Fab documentary: The Who’s ‘Amazing Journey’

It’s Keith Moon’s birthday and I thought I’d share Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who to commemorate the life of one of rock ‘n’ roll’s genuinely great drummers. This detailed and entertaining two hour documentary (plus an hour and a half of extras) was co-directed by Murray Lerner who first filmed The Who at the Isle Of Wight in 1970 ( in addition to Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix and Leonard Cohen) as well as documenting Dylan’s historic plugged-in performance at the Newport Folk Festival in the mid-Sixties. Lerner is a legend among fans of rock for his ability to be in the right place at the right time and getting it all on film. Along with co-director Paul Crowder, Lerner manages to tackle a big subject and bring it all home in Amazing Journey. They are helped considerably by Pete Townsend’s enthusiastic and no-holds-barred participation.

This film reminds me of what I loved about The Who in the first place and have somewhat forgotten over the years. The Monterey Pop footage is epic beyond belief and truly one of the defining moments in the history of punk rock and rock in general..

Part two after the jump…

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Keith Moon goes ape on American TV 1975
12:39 am


Keith Moon
Rock Music Awards

The irrepressible Keith Moon goes apeshit on the short-lived American TV program the Rock Music Awards in 1975.

Roger Daltrey and Ann-Margret are receiving some kind of award for Ken Russell’s Tommy. Perhaps for being a steaming pile of shit.

Thanks to our friends at Bubbling Over for finding this wacky bit of Moon mania.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Excellent Sparks live footage from 1974

Man I love Sparks! They are simultaneously the geekiest AND coolest band in the history of rock. We need to be showing more love to the brothers Mael and their highly literate, fun, sexy and intelligent music here on DM - they are California boys after all. This bizarrely brilliant short concert film is the perfect excuse to post about them.

Sparks always move with the times, and frequently they were well ahead of it. In 1974 they took baroque opera-pop to the top of the UK charts, a whole year before Queen did the same thing to more acclaim. In 74/75 they pretty much invented New Wave (the proof lies in this film)  and 4-5 years later when it had caught on Sparks had already moved on to inventing that staple of 80s pop, the synth-duo (through their incredible work with Giorgio Moroder). That’s not even taking into account the theory that 1976’s Big Beat album paved the way for power-pop. By the early 80s the brothers had settled down and repositioned themselves as perhaps THE quintessential New Wave band, hooking up with uber-fan Jane Weidlin of the Go-Gos along the way, and delivering the MTV staple “Cool Places”. Sparks were on the ball with their music videos too, recognising that the moving image was going to be key to music in the coming decades, and hiring a certain director called David Lynch to helm the promo for their classic 1983 stomper “I Predict”.

And that brings us back to this concert film. It is of course a brilliant look at the Sparks live set-up of the mid-Seventies post-glam era, but it also gives us some unintentionally funny moments too. It must have been a bit of a nightmare for the record company to position this brainy, sarky, odd-looking band as being another teeny-bop pop product, but boy did they try. See the over-enthusiastic reaction from the crowd to every single move the band make! Hear the roars that sound like they were from a different concert! Feel the prodding from assistant directors for bored audience members to get up and dance! Still, none of this hides the true, what-the-hell weirdness that shines out of Sparks, and particularly Ron Mael. Just check the moment at 1:40 when Ron gives a wry smile to an audience member and we see her shocked reaction.

This film is pretty short and only features four songs (“Something For The Girl With Everything”. Talent Is An Asset”, “B.C.” and “Amateur Hour”) and pop spotters will also be interested to see that Sparks are given an introduction by none other than Keith Moon and Ringo Starr:
Sparks Live 1974 Part 1

Part 2 after the jump…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
‘Sonic Boom’: short comedy with Keith Moon, Ricky Nelson and Sal Mineo

Made by UCLA students in 1975, Sonic Boom is a short comedy starring George Kennedy, Ricky Nelson, Keith Moon, Jonathan Winters and Sal Mineo. Directed by Jeff Mandel, the associate producer was Eric Louzil, who went onto make a successful career as a writer, producer and director of low budget horror films. In an interview with Chris Radcliffe, Louzil explained how he had two ideas for his student film:

One was about killer bees coming to California either to be called Deadly Buzz or Deadly Hum to star David L. Lander and Michael Mckean a.k.a. Lenny and Squiggy before they had been cast in the hit television show Laverne & Shirley (1976-1983) and the other was Sonic Boom, a comedy short about a supersonic jet that lands in a small town and creates hysteria over an impending sonic boom that never happens. The former project got scrapped because Landers And Mckean wanted too much creative control over it.

“The way they cast Sonic Boom was simply this: they would get together at production meetings, take out the entertainment section of the Los Angeles Times and find out who had made it into press. Then they would essentially stalk these performers and ask them to help out with their student film.

Mandel and Louzil wanted either Keith Moon or Elton John to appear in the film, as Radcliffe explains

Elton John was in town playing at the Troubadour so it was a toss up between Keith or Elton. They chose Keith because he was a bigger name at the time. They began hanging out at the clubs he was know to frequent until they caught up with him and he agreed to appear in the film for $1,400 In cocaine and a television, though the one page agreement signed between the producers and Keith read for “One Case Of Coke And A Television” - to which one can only assume that the latter he used to throw out of some window.

“There was something of a scene when the Director and some other guy went down to Palm Springs to get the cocaine and were afraid they would get busted on the return trip. In any event Keith’s scene was filmed at the Burbank Court House where he played the part of a professor wearing a cotex on his upper lip for a mustache. He arrived on the set in a gold limousine (which at that time was extremely rare and impressive) and left in a different one. The short film was eventually released theatrically in 1975 where it was shown before the feature film of the evening Man Friday (1975) starring Peter O’ Toole and Richard Roundtree. Man Friday was a retelling of the Robinson Crusoe story with a strong social message.”


Also on DM

The incredible friendship between Oliver Reed and Keith Moon


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Incredible Friendship of Oliver Reed and Keith Moon

When Oliver Reed met Keith Moon their lives changed forever. Together Moon and Reed formed a bizarre, unholy and incredible friendship that brought them both to the edge of madness and ultimately lead to their untimely deaths.

Their friendship began during the making of Ken Russell’s Tommy, as Lee Patrick recalled on

I was living with Keith Moon at the time and they were just about to start filming Tommy, Keith and I had spent all morning driving Soho’s sex shops buying dildoes, rubber stuff etc for Keith to use as props for Uncle Ernie.  

At lunch time Keith decided to drop into Ken Russell’s office and mentioned that he’d like to meet Ollie before they started filming, Ken immediately got on the phone to Ollie and suggested a meeting, Ollie invited us to Broome Hall afternoon so we were off to Battersea Heliport where we boarded a helicopter to take us there.   We arrived on his front lawn shortly afterwards, unfortunately frightening his pregnant horses,  Ollie was standing there in the doorway holding 2 pint mugs whisky for us.   He was a charming host and invited us to stay for dinner.

Dinner was served on a huge medieval oak table and before we started eating Ollie jumped up and grabbed two large swords which were hanging on the wall, giving one to Keith.   The two of them ended up having a sword fight up and down the table, that was the appetiser!   After dinner Ollie invited us down to his local pub, The Cricketers, where we all got very drunk, with Ollie and Keith undressing, each one trying to outdo the drunken antics of the other, they were so alike that it was no wonder they became great friends.

Later on, back at Broome Hall, Ollie insisted we stay the night, we were up for that, expecting to be sleeping in a magnificent bedroom, however, his entourage took up all the furnished bedrooms and we were led out to the stables!!  Keith said we would pass up his invitation and go home, but Ollie would have none of it, and next thing we knew he was standing there pointing an old shotgun at us, so we said OK we’ll stay, we ended up sleeping on couches in the living room!

At the time of their meeting, in the mid-seventies, Reed was Britain’s most successful and highest paid film star, something he was always keen to let any scandal-mongering press know:

‘I’m the biggest star this country has got. Destroy me and you destroy the whole British film industry.’

He had also been voted the sexiest actor alive and told Photoplay magazine:

‘I may look like a Bedford truck, but the women know there’s a V-8 engine underneath.’

Though he also claimed the film world wasn’t where his ambitions lay:

‘I have two ambitions in life: one is to drink every pub dry, the other is to sleep with every woman on earth.’

It was disingenuous, for Reed was serious about his acting and was “always word perfect and unfailingly courteous to colleagues and technicians.” Reed was well respected as an actor, and a professional, and once came within “a sliver” of replacing Sean Connery as James Bond in the film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but Reed’s reputation as a hell-raiser meant the part went to George Lazenby.

Even so, by 1975, Reed had made an impressive range of films, including I’ll Never Forget What’s ‘Is Name (the first film to have the word “fuck” in it); The Jokers; The Assassination Bureau; Hannibal Brroks; The Shuttered room; Women in Love (first male-full frontal nudity, a scene which was not in the original script, and was only included after Reed encouraged Russell to film it); Sitting Target; and perhaps his best film, The Devils.

Reed had formed a creative partnership with Ken Russell, the director he called “Jesus Christ,” since they had worked together on the BBC TV drama The Debussy film. It was because of this partnership that the non-singing Reed was cast in the role of Frank in the musical Tommy. As Reed and Moon capered and drank copiously off-set, it was to have a debilitating effect for Moon on-set:

Reed’s part got bigger and bigger as Keith Moon’s got smaller and smaller, probably due to Ken Russell’s familiarity with Oliver, and the fact that he could drink himself into stupor at night and show up on time and line-perfect in the morning, while Moonie remained stuporous.

Their friendship was an unstable chemical compound based on drink, drugs, sex and pranks, as Reed was to remark:

‘I like the effect drink has on me. What’s the point of staying sober?’

The life of excess has but one destination, and as Cliff Goodwin wrote in his definitive biography of Reed, Evil Spirits, the end came during Reed’s 40th birthday party at a swanky hotel in Hollywood, when Moon decided to liven things up with his impersonation of a “human helicopter”.  Moon jumped onto a table, grabbed the blades of an overhead fan, and began to spin around, above the heads of the invited guests. Unfortunately, the blades had slashed Moon’s hands and arms and he splattered the A-list guests with gore.

It was the moment that Reed realized the genie was well and truly out of the bottle and that he or Moon would die from their life of excess. Tragically, it was Moon who died six months later. Reed never recovered from Moon’s death, and later claimed a day didn’t go by when he didn’t think about Moon the Loon.

Previously on DM

In Praise of Oliver Reed

Oliver Reed: Wild Thing!

Who’s Next?: Scot Haplin the drummer who filled in for Keith Moon


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