Saturday, February 2, 2013

Keith Moon, The Who, and an Alleged Swimming Pool in Flint, Michigan


Flint has manufactured a lot of Buicks and Chevys over the years, but its biggest export may be the seemingly endless stories of drunken debauchery that took place in Vehicle City. When a town has a bar on every corner and drinking is considered a local art form, the intoxicating tales are going to pile up like snow during the blizzard of '78 or Lions losses during, well, just pick a season. (Note to my friend Kara: Remember that time I got my head stuck in the clothes chute in your parent's bathroom?)

But the most famous Flint drinking story doesn't belong to a local. Keith Moon, known for overindulgence behind the drum kit and at the bar, drove a car into the pool at the Flint Holiday Inn on his 21st birthday after a concert at Atwood Stadium in 1967. It seems the sheriff showed up. Keith slipped on some birthday cake and lost a tooth. The band was fined $50,000 and narrowly avoided jail time.

Great story. The kind of behavior that a hard-drinking factory town can appreciate. But Jack Alpert at The Huffington Post says it's not true. In one of those extremely annoying slide show articles that help websites gin up hits, he quotes Steve Grantley, author of The Who by Numbers, debunking the story.

But the intrepid Scott Atkinson of The Flint Journal begs to differ. He quotes Peter Cavanaugh, a legendary DJ and concert promoter, who saw it all happen and described it in vivid detail in his book Local DJ: Rock "N" Roll History. And Peter C brings out the big guns when he says The Who singer Roger Daltrey will back him up.

Of course, this isn't the first time someone has called bullshit on a Flint drinking story, and it won't be the last. But I'd put my money on Peter C and Roger Daltrey on this one. I mean, come on, we know Keith was at the hotel. We know there was drinking. We know there was a pool. And we know Flint has no shortage of cars. It's only logical that the car ended up in the pool.

17 comments:

  1. I don't know about the Keith Moon story, but I can confirm that a naked Jim Dandy of Black Oak Arkansas fame noodled a carp out of Devil's Lake.

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  2. I wonder if there's an archived police report?

    It'd be a public record, subject to FOIA unless for some odd reason it was sealed. (Which might happen in a high-society divorce case, but doesn't seem likely for a rock and roll band trashing a motel.)

    Of course, there might be a research cost for someone to go digging through the records.

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  3. I believe. I believe. Scott Atkinson, Pete Cavanaugh? That's rock solid...Who's this wimpy HuffPo poseur??? Why should I trust him when I've got trustworthy Flintoids on the case???

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  4. In Pete Townshend's book he recalls it happening in a completely different state (Wisconsin I believe). Not that I trust a foreign recovering alcoholic of having any competence of remembering which state was which or which one he was in at the time.

    BTW-I've worked for Peter C and I can tell you he can stretch the truth sometimes. Having said that, to this day I have never seen proof, other than word of mouth, that this event ever took place. I can see why certain people would like to keep a (possible) myth like this alive. It's rock-n-roll legend. It's Flint legend. Who can deny it?

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    1. Yes, all parties involved want to keep this alive. It is odd that an event that's fairly easy to verify via police records has never been verified by someone via police records.

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    2. Dr. Boulevard J.P. ColeFebruary 4, 2013 at 4:17 PM

      You assume the police were called. I always guessed it was part truth/part exaggeration- the car (not a Rolls) went partially over the lip of the pool or sumpin'.

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    3. What we really need is some spoilsport to "prove" that this legendary (non?) event never happened due to a non-existent police report. After all, I'm sure Flint Twp. / Burton has kept impeccable records for the last 46 years. Somebody call Mythbusters.

      Can we just all agree that this "really happened" whether it really did or didn't? Next thing you know Gordon is going to suggest an in-depth investigation into the existence of the storied "four young chiquitas from Omaha"*






      *for the record there were actually only 3 young chiquitas according to Don and Mel. I checked every hotel detective report from the Eastern Nebraska region for the years 1969-1973 and can state unequivocally that there is no solid proof that any hotel was actually torn down by a gaggle of afroed Midwestern thud-rockers and their teenaged jailbait groupie pals. Nevertheless, I trust that Farner's lyrical word is truth. Dude, it really happened... end of story.

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  5. um gordy youre a writer, reporter and you go to flint often...

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    1. Oh no, I'm not going to be the one responsible for debunking one of Flint's greatest stories.

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  6. Did the incident happen in Flint or Flint Township? The areas out there that are in Flint are the General Motors property and Bishop Airport.

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    1. Flint Township; Bristol Road is the border down there, with the plants in the city.

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  7. As a matter of fact the hotel in question was right behind my house in Flint Township. So can we now drop this whole thing because it didn't happen (or not happen) in Flint? Gordon, please delete this article and all comments. I will talk to some friends of mine about having the "commentors"...um...er...silenced?

    Nothing to see here, folks. Move along!

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  8. I just hope your friends aren't friends of Anthony Zerilli, Andyman!

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  9. I have been fighting with Wikipedia for ages to keep this story on Keith's page. As of this writing, it's still there. But they are always trying to take it down.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith_Moon#Flint_Holiday_Inn_incident

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  10. Keith Moon didn't drive any vehicle into the Holiday Inn pool. One of the great myths in rock and roll folklore. First of all the pool was empty, it was shut down for repairs. Second, it wasn't Keith's 21st birthday. He was actually turning 20, he was born in 1947. But Keith asked Who manager Tom Wright to organize a fake 21 birthday so there would be media reports saying he was 21 so he could use those articles at bars while on tour. The Who was part of the Hermans Hermits tour, with the Blues Magoos. Record executives came in, they rented out one of the banquet rooms, Peter Noone offered a toast. Moon became intoxicated and stripped, he grabbed fire extinguisher and begane running around with it. He did spray it in a vehicle. As he was being chased he ran out on the diving board and did a swan dive into an empty pool. Moon ended up knocking out a couple of teeth and had to go to a dentist the next day. Just Google, Rick Coates and Tom Wright. Take it from someone who was actually there. Sorry Peter C, but as you admit you were not there.

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    1. Thanks for the enlightenment! I attended that show at Atwood and have perpetuated the myth for decades. Wright's 'Roadwork' is a must read!

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  11. Keith Moon really did drive a Rolls into the Holiday Inn pool. I dunno who this Anonymous guy is but he is full of it. I was there. In fact, I dove in and pulled the poor inebriated sot out by his ruffled shirt collar. When he came to, The Loon looked me directly in the eyes and said "Blimey! What's all this then? Ye jes saved me bloomin' arse. Bloody 'ell. Good show old chap." Real story.

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