Early Days, The Who and the Big C
The other day I went to an event organised by a great friend of mine, Kenney Jones, former drummer with the Small Faces, Rod & The Faces, and the Who. The day was in aid of Prostate Cancer, because Kenney, bless him, has come face to face with the dreaded C-word in this form, which is more commonplace than we are lead to believe. In fact, 3 members of the Los Pacaminos party have all had to deal with this over the last few years, and I’m sure the guys won’t mind me saying that one of us didn’t survive (our manager/agent Dave Beal) due to other complications alongside Prostate Cancer, whilst 2 members of the band have had to deal with it in their own way and are still with us, I’m very glad to say. Whilst we might make a mockery of getting old in the title of our album, A Fistful Of Statins, make no mistake, this is a lot deadlier! It was a fantastic day, and a great turnout of musicians, numbering amongst them Kenney himself, John Parr, Jeff Beck, Mick Hucknall, Nik Kershaw, the lovely Jim Cregan (honorary Pacamino!), Judie Tzuke and many more, including last but not least Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend of The Who.
It’s been about 33yrs since I supported The Who, when I was still a rookie in The Q-Tips, and I couldn’t resist the chance of getting a picture of Pete & Kenney at his event; two absolute heroes of mine. I still say to this day, The Who are the greatest Rock Band in the world. We’re talking true Rock, not Heavy Rock, Metal or whatever… A Great Rock band has to be confrontational, reactionary, powerful, honest, dynamic, and please, please give me some great lyrics. The Who had it all in spades, and traded off their volatile relationships, putting all their frustrations into the performance. It was always about the performance with The Who; I saw many shows on that tour back in 1980 I think it was, and although sometimes there was a feeling that they might be going through the motions somewhat, a true Who fan knew that when all the emotions were in the right place, i.e.. aiming outwards, the show was going to be like nothing else you’d ever seen. And a true Who fan was happy to go again, waiting for the whole thing to explode (not implode, you impersonators!!) Sure, Keith Richards swung his guitar at someone who ran on stage, but get in the way of Pete? No f***ing way!! It was kind of like watching four lions on stage, but my God, someone had lifted the cage away; and they were loose…….
At the last night of Wembley I remember my goosebumps had goosebumps.
Pete had a lot of advice for me back then, he probably doesn’t remember, but it went someway to putting me on to my solo career. They looked after us like family members, although I do remember one thing to do with Pete’s temper…
On the last night of the tour, I think in Bournemouth, as we played our last song, the Who road crew ran on and systematically took our equipment apart leaving us eventually with a couple of drums and the vocals to finish off the song! We dearly wanted to return the favour whilst The Who were on stage, although we knew we’d had to temper our ideas somewhat… so we’d Magic Markered a letter each of “The Q-Tips” on to each of our left thighs (eight members, perfect), and we planned to Can-Can across the stage like Western Bar-Room Dancing Girls. We were warned by Who best pal Nobby, though, that if Pete wasn’t “channeling” his energies in the right direction, we could end up with a Stratocaster up the ass! So he kept watch (God knows how, maybe checking in with the road crew every 5 minutes) until at the last second almost, he ran in the dressing room and said, “Go! Go! Go!” and we ran up to stage-side, Can-Canned across the stage in front of the Band and came off the other side with our lives intact! Well, it felt like that at the time…
By the end of that night, our bass player Micky Pearl had drunk his weight in booze at The Who’s hotel, disappeared off somewhere for a couple of hours, then staggered back into the hotel covered in his own blood, half a smashed pint pot in his hand, a broken wrist, jeans torn and ragged, a massive lump the size of a football growing on his thigh (with the Magic Marker still on it! I have a photo somewhere…), and a big grin across his face. To this day no-one knows what happened… Off to hospital, then, to get stitched up, then back in the Transit van for the ride home, still smiling. He wasn’t smiling for long though, because when the booze wore off his three chipped teeth were lacerating the side of his tongue all the way home. Boys will be boys…….