As 2009 comes to an end, we are taking a look back at some of our favorite posts of the year by our guest editors. Today’s entry is from February 22. Here, Tommy Keene writes about two intimate rock-concert moments he had with music legends while growing up in Maryland.
Tommy Keene has been playing guitar hero for more than a quarter-century, both on his power-pop solo albums (his latest is In The Late Bright, out this week) and as a sideman for Robert Pollard and Paul Westerberg. Keene, apparently weary of all the critical acclaim, agreed to dole out some of his own praise. He’s guest editing magnetmagazine. com this week and compiled a mix tape for us with a free mp3.
Tommy Keene’s Intimate Rock Concert Moments, Volume 1: Keith Moon
The last time I saw the Who with Keith Moon was at the Capital Centre in Largo, Md. (site of infamous documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot, by the way). It was 1976, and the Who were touring behind The Who By Numbers. My brother and I were in the second row, smack between Moon and Pete Townshend. We were so close that at one point, Townshend seemed a bit out of sorts and ran back to his Hiwatt amp and literally turned it up to 11—we were so close that we could hear the onstage sound of his amps whoosh over our heads like a 747 taking off.
Being a drummer from age eight to 17, I was enamored with Keith Moon. I still am, actually—he’s my favorite rock drummer of all time. We had eye contact with him throughout the entire show. I would air-drum his rolls as he was doing them, and he would look at me amazed with a “Right on, kid, you know your stuff!” kind of look. It was hilarious. He tried numerous times during the show to throw my brother and me drumsticks, and when he missed or someone else got them, he’d mouth a “Damn!” or “Sorry, I’ll try again!” At the end of the show, as the Who were doing taking their bows, Moon kept looking at us and motioning that he had something up his sleeve. After the other three members walked off, he grabbed one of his cymbal stands and walked over to the edge of the stage to hand the entire thing over to us. These absolute jerks in the front row must have thought it was for them. A complete melee ensued—my brother and I grabbed on to the base of the stand, each of us holding a tripod for dear life, but by then 20 other people had joined in on the action. All we could each get was one of the rubber stoppers on the legs of the stand as the rest of the throng grabbed everything else, cymbal included. The last thing I remember was Moon shaking his head and expressing regret, as if to say, “Sorry, guys, I tried,” as he sauntered off the stage.
Tommy Keene’s Intimate Rock Concert Moments, Volume 2: Iggy Pop
In August 1973, Mott The Hoople played Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center in support of Mott. Opening up was none other than Iggy Pop. We were psyched! My brother and I had fifth-row seats on the aisle, but during Iggy’s opening set, my brother chose to sit up in the second row with friends of ours. I’ve read about this night in several Iggy bios. Apparently he and Bebe Buell were planning to take the Amtrak train down from New York because he wanted to schtup her in the bathroom, but a friend of hers spoiled that scenario by tagging along. That friend later offered him a couple of lines in the dressing room of what he thought was toot but turned out to be angel dust. The house lights went on and the show began as Iggy and the rest of the group ambled onstage. James Williamson, in complete Star Trek drag, hammered out the opening chords of “Raw Power” as Iggy stumbled around for a good minute or so before belting out the opening lines: “Dance to the beat of the living dead/Lose sleep, baby, and stay away from bed.” Something was clearly wrong, however, as they finished the song and Iggy laid down on the stage and muttered, “My doctor told me not to play tonight.” The band lurched on through a few more tunes, most memorably “I’ve Got My Cock In My Pocket” and “Rich Bitch” (“Buttfuckers trying to run my world”). After that one, he passed out, and Ron Asheton, who was on bass for this show, did the hand-swooping motion over him, like a fallen boxer—he’s out!
After a minute or so, Iggy got up, looking dazed and confused, as the band pumped out “Search And Destroy.” He started staring at little ol’ me on the aisle in the fifth row. He got down off the stage with the fallow spot following him and started walking like a zombie straight for me. I looked up to my brother and friends in the second row and saw them pointing and laughing at me. What the fuck was he doing? All eyes were upon me as he walked up to me. He stuck out his hand and motioned, “Come on, shake it, baby!” This was too surreal; I went to shake his hand, and he did the limp thing and pulled away. A guy behind me then smashed a Hostess cherry pie on Iggy’s bare chest while another squirted wine on Iggy from a wineskin. Iggy just rubbed it all onto himself, grunted and turned back to the stage. Three songs later, they pulled the plug and the house lights came on as he wailed over and over, “They won’t let us play anymore!” The Ig had gotten the royal hook indeed!