Tea with Townshend: A Post-'Tommy' Chat on Rock 'N Roll, Recording

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Can you say anything about the record Brian Jones made in Morocco that Track is supposed to release?
I haven't heard it, but I remember when he was making it. He's done a lot of film music as well you know, which I heard tracks of, for some French guy or some Dutch guy, which he did with all these weird instruments which he used to play. You know there's something really escapes people now, and I miss it when I hear Mick Jagger play the harmonica, and that's Brian Jones' harmonica playing. Brian really was a good harmonica player. He was into quite a lot of ethnic stuff. I wrote a song about Brian Jones dying. A lot of people on the day he died rang 'round and said, "What have you got to say 'bout it?" And I got one from Peter Cole of the Daily Express and it was about ten o'clock in the morning and I didn't really think about what I was saying, it was the first I'd heard of it and it just seemed very normal you know – well. Brian Jones has died, rock singer's death, good stuff, you know, he had to go and like he was dead already kind of thing, so I just said "Oh, it's a normal day for Brian, like he died every day, you know," and he said, "Thank you very much," put down the phone and I thought, "Fucking hell," then I got a phone call from the Rolling Stones' publicity man, Les Perrin, saying, "This is terrible," so on and so on. And I got all upset about it and to back up my words I wrote this song, "A Normal Day for Brian, the Man who Died Every Day," and it really came out very good.

You're not going to release it are you?
I don't think I will, but I think it might not be too late. I did it and recorded it so I could put it out that day.

Maybe it's too soon.
Yeah, perhaps. I used to know him quite well. Fairly well. I know a lot about the vibes that were about. The Stones have always been a group that I really dug very much. Dug all the dodgy aspects of them as well, and Brian Jones has always been what I've regarded as one of the dodgy aspects. They way he fitted in there and the way he didn't fit in, I always felt was one of the strong dynamics of the group. And I felt that when he stopped playing with them that dynamic was going to be missing, but somehow it seems to be still there. I credited him with a lot. I think the thing is that the Stones have just managed by some miracle to kind of replace him somehow. Not with Mick Taylor, I mean, he's like a musician, but they've kind of filled the hole. Either that or the fact that he's dead has made that dynamic that was there when he was alive kind of permanent. I don't know.

What about the Keith Moon episode, the chauffeur business?
Keith is going to come back from his holiday to a bit of a shock, because he's been charged with drunken driving and being in charge of a vehicle without a license. His solicitor says that the police did it so he gets the chance to clear his name, which sounds very suspicious. But they kind of did the inquest or whatever it is, and it made him feel better because nobody actually pointed a finger at him and said, "You killed your best friend." But that was the thing that went through his head, and it took a lot of heavy thinking on his part to straighten himself out. Because what basically he must have felt like is that there was trouble and he ran away, which is the exact opposite of what was true. I mean, he thought in fact that this guy had run ahead and he was actually driving ahead to get him. But it was just pointless, the whole thing was pointless.

Especially coming after Altamont.
Yeah, it was probably some kind of moon thing going on.

How do you feel about Altamont and Woodstock now?
Well, the Woodstock thing I'm still very unhappy about. Altamont I don't know about, because I wasn't there. At first I was a bit repulsed by the way Rolling Stone wrote about it, because I felt like it was written by a whole batch of writers who seemed to be unanimous in the decision that it was the fault of rock and roll or the fault of the Stones. But what I really felt was wrong with the whole thing was the fact that there were murderers in there. And I mean I know there's murderers everywhere. I think it's just as silly for Keith Richard to say it wouldn't happen in this country, because, let's face it, it did happen to Keith Moon's chauffeur. Somebody killed him; somebody kicked him under the fucking car. They arrested what, like four-14-year-old boys? There are reasons why kids do things and there are reasons why grown men do things, and they've all got a lot more to do with rock and roll than they've got to do with anything else. But at the same time I felt that with a little bit of care, a little bit of thought in advance, you can avoid things like that.

What didn't you like about Woodstock?
Quite honestly, I mean knock for knock everything Abbie Hoffman said was very fair. Because I did hit him, he must have felt it for a couple of months after. I didn't like Woodstock for one reason because I took my wife and the baby, and you know when women are pregnant they go through a whole thing where if they get in a crowd they freak out. Well, I was kind of like that, paternally, people coming up to me – "You're going to Woodstock? You're crazy. Turn back, go home, there's millions of people there, the food's poisonous and the water ..." Well, I immediately got into an incredible state and I rejected everyone, I wouldn't talk to anyone. And I was telling really nice people like Richie Havens to fuck off and things like that. And it just got to a point where when we finally did get out of the helicopter and the helicopter never arrived and we eventually got in a queue of cars it took about six hours to get there. Well, we got there and then we waited another ten hours in the mud; the first cup of coffee I had had acid in it. I could fucking taste it. I took one sip and threw it away because I really can't play if I'm tripping. Can't trip if I'm playing, as it happens. Like I thought I was going to be up by the time the trip had gone through, it was only a little trip, you know, a very bad one incidentally, but I mean it's just a little thing, went up/down in the space of say three or four hours. But there was another six hours to wait before we got on the stage and we got there at eight o'clock at night.

And people came up and said "It's alright for you fucking rock groups, flying in by helicopter," but we had to walk a mile through the mud from the car, then we got there and just started to pick up vibes that were just great. I must admit if you went out of the section where the musicians were, forgot that you were there to work, it was great, but every now and then you'd think, "I'm part of the sideshow, I'm selling the soft drinks here" – No one else was doing his fucking job – no one was supplying water, no one was cleaning the lavatories, no one was supplying food. But the groups played. I know that's what people were there for, but it's a whole trip.

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