Tuesday, August 24, 2010

23 August - Keith Moon's birthday

Meanwhile in the Vortex in Wardour Street, London 1977...

[wavy lines and wobbly music]

It was a warm August night, 1977.
Mark Perry said he'd meet me at the Vortex on Wardour Street, London W1.

The Vortex Club was like a secret. You went through the pub, past the pool tables and down the stairs at the back. At the bottom of the stairs there was another bar and a stage and a backroom where you could sit and talk (and probably do drugs - but I only heard that later).

The night I'm talking about I remember it was very dark and I got there before Mark. The first band came on - Teenage Jesus and the Jerks.
From America.
The drummer had one drum, one cymbal and played standing up.
He was great.
There were 3 in the band in silhouette in this white light shoebox of a stage. The girl in the middle on guitar was as high as her guitar was wide in her hands.They were mezmerizing.

After they played, I still didn't see Mark so I went back to the stairs to see if the man with the guest list was there. He wasn't there but reclining on the stairs - pretty much glowing because he was all in white, white t-shirt, white jeans, white blond hair - was Billy Idol.
I asked him, "Billy, have you seen Mark?"
He said, "No. I haven't."
The bloke with the guest list came over, checked the list and saw Mark wasn't there yet.

Billy pointed to a person standing right next to me in the dark corner. I hadn't noticed him. He was ever so sweet. Only as tall as me (5'4) wearing black jeans, black t-shirt but this terrible (I thought) black pudding bowl haircut. He looked so nervous, bless him. He couldn't stand still like he was on a stationary treadmill. I immediately assumed that with that hair, this had to be his first time at a punk club and Billy was trying to make him feel at home so I joined in. I liked being a punk. I thought everyone should come and see all these bands and dress up etc. It was fun. Some people think punks were angry and rude, but we weren't. We were all very in this together. The more the merrier.

Billy said, "have you met Keith Moon?"
"No," I said. "what a nice name. Moon. Is that your real name?"
He looked a bit surprised and said, "It's my real name, why would I have made it up?"
I thought he should be in the know so I told him, "noone uses their real name these days. We all make them up. You know, Johnny Rotten, Rat Scabies, Captain Sensible. Billy here. Billy's not really Billy Idol are you Billy? Tell him your real name."
Billy says, "it's William Broad."
The new boy joked, "ha ha ha if you were called Arthur you would be A Broad." I thought that was funny.
He asked me my name. It was noisy now and he heard me say my name was Daisy Human which it isn't but I thought was funny too, I liked this lad. He was trying. And I couldn't get over what a lovely name Moon was. "My mum's favourite song is Blue Moon, do you know that song? Have you ever heard it by Elvis Presley?" and just as I said that, Danny Baker announced over the microphone, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Elvis Presley has left the planet."
I gasped.
"Elvis Presley died?"
I didn't know what to feel.
I may have gone into shock.
Maybe I was ashamed of myself.
Here I was trying to show off and give the impression that I was such a good punk (or whatever I was trying to prove) -- I couldn't believe I'd just been talking about my mother AND Elvis Presley in the VORTEX... Elvis Presley wasn't a punk... He was fat and old and wore FLARES. His wore a white suit with fringes on it. If you wanted to wear white and be cool you should look like, well, like, Billy. Surely.
I even started to cry.
Mr. Moon was very nice.
He put his arm round me and said, "don't worry, rock and roll will never die" and then he said, you might want to go to the ladies and (he pointed to my face). Let me get you a drink."

In the ladies I saw my mascara had streaked all over the place. Phew. Saved. I went back. He'd got me a vodka/orange. Then maybe Mark showed up. We watched I think the Jam might have played later on. I think I saw Paul Weller or Bruce Foxton in the back room. Maybe there was another stage back there and the Jam played in there. I don't remember. Anyway …. The next day….

The rest of the night Elvis Died story...

So the next morning, I get on the bus, upstairs, and there's a lot of traffic.
The bus gets to the top of the hill and it can't go any further.
The two old ladies in the seat in front of me are like Monty Python characters.
One says to the other, "oooer, the golf course [at the bottom of the hill] is flooded, we'll not get through to the shops, look at all the rain" and the other lady says, "it's the angels crying for Elvis, innit."
We all have to get off the bus.
Go home.

NEXT NIGHT, I'm on my way to some gig or other and there's this Big brick wall somewhere along the route and there's these HUGE letters - someone must have needed a ladder - it says ELVIS LIVES ON IN OUR HEARTS. Amazing to see.
Especially with all that rain. Must have been oil paint.
BIG WHITE LETTERS as high as your garage door.
A couple of weeks later, a giraffe at London Zoo gives birth.
Ah look at the little Giraffe.
They call him Victor.
Next night on the news, uh oh, victor is a bit stumbly.
A couple of days, is it a few weeks maybe,(?) I forget but anyway, (children look away) Victor dies.
And the next time I bus by the wall Elvis is crossed out with one great big diagonal white line and someone has painted VICTOR so it now reads: VICTOR LIVES ON IN OUR HEARTS.
A few weeks go by. Groucho Marx died and Victor is crossed out and above Victor, was painted GROUCHO, so it now read GROUCHO LIVES ON IN OUR HEARTS.

It was December when I went up the bus stairs on the way to see somebody good. By this time I'd been going out with Mark Perry and he was saying, bloody hell everyone looks the same, everyone's wearing the same stuff, people aren't looking different anymore, and as I came up the stairs I remember thinking, yeah - look at this lot. All the seats were taken, everyone was reading the NME (music paper) and they were all wearing black blazers, skinny ties and as we came round the corner, I looked at the wall and there was a new name. KEEF.
I gasped.
“Keith Richards died?”
"naaah" says some lad, looking up from his paper.
I'm like, - where have I heard that name before?
I ask “Who's Keith Moon?”
His friend said, "Only the greatest rock and roll drummer in the whole world, that's who"
I'm like, “what band is he in?”
(I swear to God, I didn't know.)
Someone said, “The Who”
I immediately heard his voice: "Don't worry - Rock and roll will never die"
And I sat down.

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