Warming Keith Moon's chair
July 25, 2008 7:39 AM   Subscribe

Before the year is out it's worth giving a belated Metafilter sendoff to Thomas Scot Halpin, who died in February, his place in history secure as one of the great substitutes of all time, alongside Earl Morrall, Mr. Bergstrom, and tofu.

Halpin was 19 in 1973, a rec-room drummer who idolized Keith Moon and had the good fortune to score stageside seats at a 1973 Who show at San Francisco's Cow Palace. Seventy minutes into the show, though, his seat would be upgraded: Keith Moon passed out behind his kit, Townshend asked the crowd if anyone could play drums ("someone really good"), and Halpin's friend made enough of a racket to attract Bill Graham's attention. Graham pulled him onstage, Townshend gave him a shot of brandy to steel his nerves, and The Who featuring Scot Halpin of Muscatine, Iowa, lurched into Smokestack Lightning. Additional youtubery. 2006 NPR interview.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders (8 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I was always bothered, somehow, that they didn't do "Substitute."
posted by mwhybark at 8:48 AM on July 25, 2008

Wow, what a great experience to have lived personally. Sure it made a great story to tell at parties as well.
posted by daHIFI at 8:52 AM on July 25, 2008

Aw, man. I almost started crying when I read that he set the drumsticks and the tour jacket they gave him down for a moment and someone swiped them.
posted by padraigin at 8:53 AM on July 25, 2008

Furthermore: in 1995 Halpin moved to my hometown, where he appears to have been a neighbor of an old friend and fellow artist.
posted by mwhybark at 8:54 AM on July 25, 2008

posted by paulsc at 9:01 AM on July 25, 2008


This is really one of the great rock stories and must have been unbelievable for Halpin, but it's a shame it didn't happen in a happier context- Moon was falling apart and Townshend seemed determined to prove he didn't give a shit, going on with the show as Moon was literally near death.

I really can't recommend the bio of Moon by Tony Fletcher enough. it's called "dear boy" in the UK and just "Moon" in the US. He did a ton of research to get to the truth behind this and a lot of the other legends (Moon never drove a car into a swimming pool, for example). It's completely fascinating and the best book about rock music I have ever read.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:32 AM on July 25, 2008

what a great story.
posted by msconduct at 11:43 AM on July 25, 2008

Total adolescent male musician fantasy. Thanks, stupidsexyFlanders.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:57 AM on July 25, 2008

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