Who's Drummer?

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Nobody caught his name, but everybody remembers the skinny kid plucked from the audience to replace the legendary Keith Moon. For just one night.

Cow Palace, San Francisco, 20th November 1973. The Who play the opening night of their Quadrophenia tour to a crowd of 14,000. After taking a cocktail of drugs and drink, drummer Keith Moon collapses over his drum kit one hour into the show and has to be taken off stage. They throw him in a shower and he seems to rally when he gets back on stage, but soon starts flailing about and failing to make contact with the drums. After he falls backwards off his stool, the three remaining members carry on playing the song until guitarist Pete Townshend stops and asks the audience "Can anyone play drums? I mean somebody good!"

Audience member Mike Danese points to his friend,19 year-old Scot Halpin, who reluctantly and nervously climbs on stage. He does himself proud. Scot knows every track, every beat. It's his fifteen minutes of fame.

In this programme, we re-live that moment and capture memories of the concert from the people who were there.

Gary Rossington from Lynyrd Skynyrd, the support act, talks about touring with The Who and that fateful night. Peter "Dougal" Butler, Keith Moon's PA for many years, paints a picture of what life was like backstage.

Sadly Scot Halpin passed away in 2008, and his wife Robin recalls how he told the story so many times.

Nick Barraclough, presenting, identifies with the syndrome. His fantasy always was that John Lennon would fall ill and Paul would call out "Can anyone play rhythm guitar and sing - I mean somebody good?"?


Presented by Nick Barraclough.

Producer: Nick Barraclough and Emma-Victoria Houlton
A Smooth Operations production for BBC Radio 4.
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