Dougal Butler: My life working for Keith Moon

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For six years in the 1970s Peter ‘Dougal’ Butler worked for Keith Moon as his personal assistant.

Or to be a little more precise, Dougal was Keith’s personal assistant, his butler, his nurse, his housekeeper, his man servant, chauffeur, batman, chamberlain and steward, co-conspirator, calming influence, valet and old retainer.

Dougal’s stories about his time with Keith are legendary. He began working for The Who as an 18-year-old Mod back in the mid-60s and after a stint as Who roadie and then chauffeur to John Entwistle, he begin working directly for Keith in September 1971.

And now Dougal is on the road himself giving a series of talks and kicking off with an appearance on Thursday 20th June at the Palace Drum Clinic in the Studio at the Palace Theatre in Redditch, Worcestershire. Tickets are £10 and the evening kicks off at 7.30pm. Tickets and further details can be found here.

Dougal will be bringing photos and stories of not just Moonie but other drummers and people he meet along the way. Some of them can be seen pictured in the photos above. His bestselling books will be present on the evening.

Moving to Los Angeles in the mid-’70s, when The Who were off-the-road for months at a time, the drummer’s intake of drugs and booze – and his spending – spiralled out of control, placing huge pressure on The Who’s manager Bill Curbishley.

“I used to agonise over whether to do deals that would make money for him,” Curbishley told writer Rob Chapman. “I suppose I felt I was an enabler. I remember one instance when he phoned me and said, ‘I need money’, so I sent him $30,000. Three or four days later he says he needs a bit more, so I said, What have you done with the money? He went through [a list], and I said, That leaves $9,000 – what did you do with that? He said, ‘Well, it was Ringo’s birthday, so I got a plane and I wrote Happy Birthday Ringo in the sky.’ I told him if he wants more money to call Ringo, and put the phone down.”

Severals Articles about  tales, stories  anectodes about Keith Moon were published on VIdeomuzic during the time: here’s some of them below the gallery.

Keith Moon: the Lennon’s “Lost Week End” and Ringo

john-lennon-paul-mccartney-last-photo-keith-moon-los-angeles-santa-monica-california

Keith, of course, teased that lifestyle too. When he found out Mick Jagger was also at the Wilshire, for example, he decided to pay his old friend a nocturnal visit. Rather than using the lift and front door, Keith negotiated his way round the outside balconies – putting his life in danger, as usual without thinking of it – and entered Jagger’s room through the window. Hearing a disturbance, the Rolling Stone picked up the bedside light in preparation to attack the intruder. But it was only Moon, thrilled at his endeavour – and especially delighted to see Mick’s wife Bianca in bed. He reportedly invited her to come out dancing with him.

Afternoons would be spent sipping cocktails round the pool, with recording sessions at the Record Plant beginning in the early evening. A fleet of cars was on permanent call there, and by midnight, Keith, Ringo and Harry would be using them to hit the town. “You’d see those limos pulling out of those driveways and people would just scatter,” recalls Howard Kaylan. “It was like the Dirty Dozen, or the Four Horsemen. ‘Where are they going tonight? Let’s not be there.’ It was a travelling road show thing they had going, and wherever they went they caused havoc.”

Keith Moon: More Lunatics Tales from the Loon

Dinner at Tramp was Pacific prawns washed down by Dom Perignon – the usual luxurious Keith Moon supper. But when the bill came, even Keith looked unusually aghast. For a rare few moments, there was complete silencenudemoon. Eventually Karl asked if his friend was all right.

“How many prawns did we have?” asked Keith by way of reply.

“About 24, I think,” replied Karl.

“They’ve gone up. The bill’s £14,000! That’s nearly £600,0 a prawn! I mean, I don’t mind, but it’s a bit much.” He called over the manager.

“These prawns. They’ve gone up, haven’t they?”

“No, Mr Moon. That’s your bill – for the last year. 

Windows and flying objects

Artful Dodger decided to make a proper job of his destruction, and in the madness of the moment, he picked his broken birthday present up and threw it out of the window. Everyone rushed to the balcony and watched the player turning as it fell .“It looked so good when it went down,” recalls John Wolff, “and the smash it made was fantastic, it was music to our ears, that we shouted, ‘Leave those bits there!’ I rushed downstairs in my dressing gown, gathered it all up and brought it back upstairs so we could throw it out again!” But as Steve Marriott recalled in the Small Faces biography The Young Mods’ Forgotten Story, that “was the wrong thing to do in front of Keith Moon, because the next thing that went out was the telly, armchairs, the lot went out of the window, the whole room …

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