It’s such an amazing story really. Here’s this 19-year-old kid standing at the edge of the stage at a Who concert. It’s 1973, San Francisco. They’re tearing it up. Suddenly Keith Moon, who decided it would be fun to mix horse tranquilizers with Brandy before he started playing, passes out on stage. Attempts to wake him prove unsuccessful, of course — animal tranquilizers always trump consciousness in the rock-paper-scissors game of life.
Daltrey, Townshend, and Entwistle, in an eerie moment of foreshadowing, stand on stage wondering what to do next. After trying one tune as a drumless trio, Townshend calls out “Can anybody play the drums?… I mean somebody good!” (watch this @3:34)
In a whirlwind moment, Scot Halpin, the 19-year-old just in town from Iowa is hoisted on to the platform. He’s given a shot of brandy and voilà, he’s playing with The Who. But then it turns out he can actually play!
Behold footage of this moment. At the end Halpin lines up for bows with the band — the lack of sound at this point makes the film clip even more magical. I can’t imagine the thrill for not only him, but the audience too.
His tale is so legendary that when Halpin passed away a few years ago from a brain tumor (age 54), The Who eulogized him on their web site. Incidentally he was not only a good drummer, but a splendid artist too. His work can be seen on a blog run by his wife:
I think it’s an amazing story.
For a more detailed account, read the Wiki page about him: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scot_Halpin