Non Keith Moon drummer on Who By Numbers?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Chris M, Sep 8, 2006.

  1. Chris M

    Chris M Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baton Rouge, LA
    I don't really subscribe to this but it's been floted on various Who forums that another drummer might have played on one or two track on By Numbers. Does anyone think this is possible? I haven't listened to Numbers in awhile but I don't remember anything sounding THAT un-Moon like. Also, I would think if this were true that it would have come out by now. The below was posted on www.thewhoforum.co.uk. I think Nigel Olsson drummed on one of Entwistle LP's??


    Here's a twist for you - Keith actually had some secret help on "Numbers," provided by one Nigel Olsson. Nigel's fanclub site has a couple references to this fact, but due to various legal reasons, full disclosure of Nigel's involvement (meaning which songs he contributed to) has never been made officially public.

    I met Nigel at a NAMM show about 6-7 years ago, and he admitted he did play on a couple tracks as a favor to his then-new friend Keith Moon. Keith was in LA during the same time frame that Nigel was at loose ends (also living in LA), after having been fired from Sir Elton's band in 1975. It seems Keith was having visa problems which prevented him from flying back to England to work on the album, and he turned to his new friend and party-buddy Nigel. " 'Ere, Old Chap - fancy earning a quid or two with a Who session? I'm in a spot of bother with Yank Immigration at the moment.........." {Nigel can do a spot-on Keith imitation, right down to the mannerisms}

    Like Nigel asked me - who WOULDN'T jump at the chance to work with one of their musical idols? A quick three-day weekend, and the job was finished, with Nigel sworn to secrecy. Nigel and Keith remained good friends until Keith died - Nigel himself thinks that this was because "I was like an offbeat x-ray image of him. Everything Keith did, I DIDN'T do - and Keith seemed to like the sort of analogue or complement our styles were to each other."

    Yes, I know where Nigel's work is on the album (it should be reasonably obvious to those familiar with Nigel's style, or with sharp ears), but since he took me into his confidence, I wouldn't dream of breaking the silence; that's a decision best left to the "guilty" parties..........
     
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  2. glea

    glea Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Bozeman
    I'd heard Graham Edge had sat in on "sessions". I don't know if this meant recording for the album or not. Also heard Dave Edmunds had been in the studio... No proof of either, beyond what I heard. Seems like the GE mention came from Pete hisself. Deke Leonard told me about the Edmunds involvment.
     
  3. MisterBritt

    MisterBritt Forum Resident

    Location:
    Santa Fe, NM, USA
    Due to the nature of this forum, that one might be too hot to handle. But speaking in general terms, I think this stuff happens more than people realize.

    Along those lines, thinking about the Renaissance sculptors like Michelangelo, Donatello, Ghiberti, et.al., it has been observed that they physically couldn't have actually done all the work that is ascribed to them; rather, their students or proteges did much of the work "in the style of" their master teachers.

    Back to drumming, didn't Max Roach actually overdub the Elvin Jones drumming in the movie Zacharia? And how unique is Elvin Jones musical idiolect!

    I'm not going to voice an opinion about Keith Moon -- there's no sense in it.

    But, having never visited a Who message board or otherwise discussed a matter such as this, I've wondered about it myself. Especially the "Who Are You Album." I've always been facinated by the title track and watching a youtube video of same left me scratching my head. But I'm not saying yeah, nay, or nary.
     
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  4. Squealy

    Squealy Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Vancouver
    Can he do Keith on the drums too?
     
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  5. pdenny

    pdenny Blow up your TV

    I heard it was Bernard Purdie...:shh:
     
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  6. zipzorp

    zipzorp Forum Resident

    Location:
    hollywood
    To my ears, only 2 songs could possibly feature Olsson instead of Moon:

    "Slip Kid" (straight beat with lots of percussion and bongos voicing the 8ths, etc)

    or

    "Imagine A Man" (no proper beat, only cymbal swells, cymbal hits and tom rolls)

    Every other track is swimming in Moon-isms.

    Also, at this point (late 1975-76) Pete had just finished arranging and recording the entire Tommy MOVIE Soundtrack (which featured Kenny Jones filling in for Moon on some tracks).
     
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  7. Chris M

    Chris M Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baton Rouge, LA
    I was going to say that They Are All In Love didn't really sound like Keith but after a quick listen those snare rolls are pretty unmistakably Keith..
     
  8. peteham

    peteham Forum Resident

    Location:
    Simcoe County
    I heard this story for years, but it also included one time Entwistle drummer Graham Deakin and one other drummer that escapes me (maybe Bob Henrit). Nigel and Graham were also associated with the Tommy soundtrack. I've never heard that Graham Edge was involved. There are some obvious Moon moments on Who By Numbers...namely "In A Hand Or A Face", but many of the tracks sound very un-Moon like to me (not that it really sounds like Nigel). I'd also read somewhere, it might have been Richard Barnes' book, that Moon's playing had sharply deteriorated by the time of Who By Numbers (exacerbated by his marriage ending and his mandrax and brandy addiction), and that's why they got, with Moon's reluctant blessing, some other "friends" in. It took years for Beatle fans to be officially told that Paul did the drums on "Dear Prudence", so maybe it will all come out one day.
     
  9. Chris M

    Chris M Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baton Rouge, LA
    I agree with that. I don't hear anything on Slip Kid that sounds like Moon. The tom fills on Imagine a Man sound kind of like Moon but I guess they could be anybody. Has anyone heard the hadful of live versions of Slip Kid from the '75 tour? If so how does the drumming compare to the LP version?
     
  10. Marry a Carrot

    Marry a Carrot Senior Member

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    That's great. "I will violate Nigel's trust by revealing that he plays on a couple of tracks on The Who By Numbers, but out of respect for Nigel, I will not identify the specific tracks."
     
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  11. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    If I had to guess one it would be Slip Kid. I think Imagine a Man sounds very Moonish, especially at the end.

    At any rate I'm skeptical of this story. The recording of Who are You was greatly slowed down by Moon's frequent inability to play, and it seems unlikely they would've suffered through those delays if they'd already established a precedent of using a fill-in drummer on the previous album. I mean, they even went so far as to use no drummer on one track (Music Must Change) when Keith couldn't play it. And it seems very unlikely the story would not have come out by now. It's hard to imagine Townshend keeping this a secret. The rationale for needing a sub is also not credible... why couldn't they delay recording until Moon could get to England? What was the supposed rush? Or why couldn't the rest of the band just record their parts and then record Moon's drums last (which was apparently how most of Who Are You was recorded). Or at worst, use a substitute drummer and then wipe his drums and record Keith later. The whole thing seems implausible, and there are no tracks that seem obviously un-Moonish.
     
  12. Shawn

    Shawn Forum Resident


    For a split second I thought you were going to write something like "died in 1966." :D
     
  13. Chris M

    Chris M Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baton Rouge, LA
    Some very good points. Especially the one about Pete keeping it a secret. It seems like this would have come out long ago if it were true..
     
  14. peteham

    peteham Forum Resident

    Location:
    Simcoe County
    The thing is, maybe it isn't considered a secret. No one has ever asked the question directly, and outside of "obsessives" (which I count myself as), nobody really cares.:cry:
     
  15. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    Well, Pete has offered up the story that they discussed replacing Moon for the duration of the Who Are You sessions because he was so largely incapable (supposedly Entwistle and Daltrey were for it but Pete resisted). In the context of that it seems likely he would have mentioned them already replacing him earlier if they'd done so. And why would he have fought not to do it on Who are You if they'd already done it earlier, especially since Moon's drumming skills were in so much worse shape in 1978.
     
  16. MisterBritt

    MisterBritt Forum Resident

    Location:
    Santa Fe, NM, USA
    Are you saying that the drums on "Who Are You" were overdubbed on top of the other tracks? Very interesting.

    Yeah, or vice versa. Maybe the demo or guide track was Keith, not the other way around. Not saying yeah, nay or nary, though.
     
  17. Squealy

    Squealy Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Vancouver
    I wonder sometimes how many secret session musicians there are on records that people still don't know about, particularly on more recent albums that haven't been analyzed to death.
     
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  18. peteham

    peteham Forum Resident

    Location:
    Simcoe County
    Perhaps different interpretations of history. I always thought the "Who Are You " session stories about Moon got more attention because it had become clear that Keith, after so many attempts to dry out, etc., was never going to be capable of powering the band again - he was beyond fixing. With the musical landscape changing so rapidly in 77/78 and both Daltrey and Entwistle's desire to keep The Who a vital live and recording force, it was clear that a permanent solution was needed. The Who By Numbers Moon issue/replacement was simply a stopgap measure to finish a record, bouyed by the belief that Moon would get it together again. Listening to the Swansea show in '76, it sounds like he had recovered to an extent. By '77, he was finished, the band knew it, and since then the "Who Are You" sessions have been taken as these infamous sessions where Moon couldn't pull it off. I think the "Who Are You' sessions were the last straw, as opposed to the first, and that's overshadowed everything that came before.
     
  19. Chris M

    Chris M Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Baton Rouge, LA
    Anyone have a boot of the '76 Madison Square Garden show? The reason I ask is they played Slip Kid at that show. It was also played at the '76 shows in Germany, Paris and Oklahoma City. I'm curious how the drumming on the live versions compare to the studio take..
     
  20. MisterBritt

    MisterBritt Forum Resident

    Location:
    Santa Fe, NM, USA
    Maybe "Who Are You" is about Keith Moon:

    I woke up in a Soho doorway
    A policeman knew my name
    He said "You can go sleep at home tonight
    If you can get up and walk away"

    I staggered back to the underground
    And the breeze blew back my hair
    I remember throwin' punches around
    And preachin' from my chair


    I used to think the line in the song sounded like And taken from my chair. Either way. And then there's the photo on the cover with Keith sitting in a chair that essentially reads something like: "do not remove". Just a coincidence? Such are my thoughts.
     
  21. peteham

    peteham Forum Resident

    Location:
    Simcoe County
    I always thought the lyrics were inspired by Pete's run in with Steve Jones and Paul Cook, but it's an interesting theory nonetheless.
     
  22. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    On many of the songs on that album (I'm sure exactly which ones... maybe all of them), the drums were apparently the last thing recorded. As opposed to previous albums, where they tended to be the first. In the case of "Music Must Change" Keith tried to overdub drums but was unable to handle the time signature, so they decided to have no drums at all (and again, if they'd already used a substitute previously, I don't think they would have gone with no drums at all on that track).

    But the supposed Nigel Olsson story is that Keith was unable to return to England. It says nothing about him being replaced because his playing skills had atrophied.
     
  23. peteham

    peteham Forum Resident

    Location:
    Simcoe County

    Yup. I've never heard that one. That strains credibility more than the theory that a couple of drummers were brought in to help out, imo. But, again, who knows? I'll dig out that Barnes book this weekend. That one was, at least, authorized.
     
  24. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    From what I recall, the Barnes book says Keith had essentially forgotten how to play drums as he hadn't picked up a stick in the interim between the Quadrophenia tour and the WBN sessions. So he had to relearn to play.

    The more I think about this, I wonder if Nigel Olsson's recollections about Keith recruiting him are really memories related to being asked to play on the Tommy Soundtrack, and he's got it slightly confused? It was recorded around the same time, wasn't it?
     
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  25. Mike Dow

    Mike Dow I kind of like the music

    Location:
    Bangor, Maine
    Pete has made it very clear over the years that "Who Are You" was written about his life. After his accountant discovered that he was missing "about a million dollars" in royalties, Pete attended a frustrating day long business meeting in February 1977 with Allen Klein and others. He walked away from that meeting with a fat check and proceeded to visit the Speakeasy club where he had a few too many...met Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols and later fell asleep in the doorway of a local business.

    It's funny, I listened to "The Who By Numbers" yesterday. For years, I have wondered about the drumming on "Slip Kid". It doesn't really sound like anything Keith did before or after. It's possible that Nigel is on it but it is a little strange that it hasn't come out before now.

    On my way to work this morning, I listened again to "By Numbers". "They're All In Love" could be someone other than Keith. The drumming is solid but it could be someone trying to play it "like Keith would play it". Another thing about this track...the drum sound is completely different than the other tracks. They seem to have been recorded differently with a sharper and more defined sound.

    Unless Pete and/or Roger state that someone other than Keith is playing on some "By Numbers" songs, I guess we will never know for sure.
     

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