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For most, the prospect of playing onstage with The Who is the stuff of daydreams. For Iowa-native Scott Halpin, this fantasy became a reality on Nov. 20, 1973, at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. The concert started like any other, with the rock icons kicking off their set with “I Can’t Explain.”
From there, the show continued without a hitch—but not for long. By the end of the night, drummer Keith Moon was, shall we say, experiencing difficulties. The Who’s official website claims that Moon was simply “ailing,” but it’s widely understood that he was experiencing the maleffects of a mixture of horse tranquilizers and brandy (as people will do). During “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” Moon passed out at his kit and had to removed from the stage. After a not-so-miraculous recovery than involved some other drugs, he returned for an encore performance of “Magic Bus.” But a few minutes in, he collapsed once again and was dragged away by roadies. The Who continued on, playing “See Me, Feel Me” sans drums. Then, Townshend got an idea.
The guitarist turned to the crowd and asked, in a joking tone but completely serious, “Can anybody play the drums?” He repeats: “Can anyone play the drums. We need somebody good.” Scott Halpin, a recent California transplant who was in the venue by chance with a friend, stepped up to the kit and supported the group for “Smokestack Lightning,” “Spoonful” and “Naked Eye.”
If not for our Vault, this incident might be written off as an urban legend. However, thanks to video footage of the event, you can watch the whole thing unfold. Here’s footage of the whole show. Watch Moon leave the stage at the 1:13:40 mark and collapse for good at 1:29:48, followed by Townshend’s plea for help at 1:37:44.