Pete Townshend Reveals Keith Moon’s Role in Getting the Who Involved in Charity Work
Charity work has become a large part of the Who's incredible career legacy, including the decades of fundraising efforts spearheaded by co-founders Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend through their Teen Cancer America organization. And as Townshend revealed in a recent interview with Yahoo Music, it all started because drummer Keith Moon was looking for some female companionship.
As Townshend recalls the story, the band members were in the midst of recording their Quadrophenia LP when they received a call from Joanna Lumley, the actor now best known for her role as Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous. Invited to meet her in London, Townshend demurred, but offered to send one of his bandmates in his stead — and Moon volunteered because, as Townshend put it, he was "very much hoping that it would lead to something sexual, I think."
The reality of Moon's meeting with Lumley turned out to be life-alteringly different for the drummer — and his bandmates. "It turned out that what she’d done is invited him to the very, very first women’s refuge in the world [the domestic violence shelter Chiswick’s Women’s Aid, founded in 1971]. And Joanna got him cleaning toilets," said Townshend. "He came back in tears. And he said, ‘Pete, we’ve got to do something for these women!’"
Moon's epiphany took on added meaning for Townshend later, after he realized Moon had been guilty of "real violent outbursts against his wife" during moments when he suspected her of infidelity — sadly ironic because, as Townshend pointed out, "in fact, it was the other way around." In seeing the error of his ways and spurring the band to action, Moon helped spark a lifetime of efforts on behalf of others.
"We started to do shows for the woman [Erin Pizzey] who started [the refuge]. And that’s how charity work began for me and for the band. And we’ve gone on from there," added Townshend. "Anyway, that was a great moment. And it was one of the nicest stories about Keith, I think: that something had touched his heart, because usually he would turn everything into a gag."
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