Well, it’s my birthday. So what better way to celebrate with a good story about rock’s greatest drummer and a lifetime hotel ban. Enjoy.
August 23rd 1967, Atwood Stadium, The Who open for Herman’s Hermits. Keith Moon was on a roll, the band were in full swing – a hyper-intensive swing – so powerful was their performance that adrenaline and a penchant for destruction took centre stage. Ear drums were shattered, guitars set alight and the main act were left in aghast.
Still pumped up after the show, The Who trashed what was left of their dressing room, and Keith Moon kicked a field goal with a wastebasket from fifty feet away. As Jeff Weiss of Stylus Magazine eloquently put it at the time, “If he wasn’t the best drummer in rock history, he’s certainly it’s most original.”
Not content with dressing room smash ups, field goals and the prior destruction of a centre stage before the main act could perform, Keith was yet to celebrate his birthday, his 21st to be precise. With a lingering post concert adrenaline rush, presents in the form of alcohol, a plethora of women and unsuspecting hotel staff, what could possibly go wrong?
Whilst events of that evening have been enshrined in Rock folklore, a rough timeline of the carnage has been documented;
– Big cake is wheeled into the main dining room.
– Girl jumps out of the cake, pleasing, yet scaring the hyperactive drummer.
– Keith decides to lift the cake, dropping it on the party goers.
– A food fight erupts, cake is used as a weapon of mass mess.
– Keith somehow loses his clothes in the carnage.
– Police are called to sort it out.
– Keith, noticing the trouble he’s going to be in, does what any fine man will do; runaway.
– Keith finds the first car in the car park, a Lincoln Continental, and releases the handbrake.
– Car rolls backwards, through a fence, into the hotel swimming pool.
– Police don’t take long to find Keith and greet him at gunpoint.
– Keith tries to escape, slipping on cake, he fails, badly. Keith knocks out his front tooth.
– Police stop laughing and arrest Keith.
– Police take Keith to the dentist where the dentist later reports, “his current state meant that no painkillers were needed”.
– Keith spends the night in jail.
So, it was to be a birthday cake that became the untimely undoing of the legendary drummers escape from the authorities; and one of the many reasons stated by Holiday Inn for a lifetime ban to be imposed on the purveyors of destructive rock.
In ancient Greece, birthday cakes were used to celebrate Artemis, the god of the Moon. Round in shape, with a single candle used to represent the glow of the moon, the greeks pioneered birthday celebrations until the middle ages when, the Germans decided to take the mantle of birthday connoisseurs.
Used to celebrate the birthdays of young children, called Kinderfest, the Germans were the first to pioneer the use of sweet ingredients, layers and alternate flavorings that were different to their previous counterparts, which were coarser and bread like in texture. Known as Geburtstagorten, this kind of cake was then the precursor to later recipes that would include the use of icing and decorations.
It would be another one hundred years until cakes were more popular due to cooking utensils becoming more accessible to a wider public, reducing the price of the cakes and the quantity of cakes baked increased considerably.
Keith Moon would of course not be put off by his antics. Whether it was throwing TV’s out of hotel rooms, or getting arrested with John Bonham, Peter Sellers and Oliver Reed in the South of France after a fortnight of heavy drinking or generally blowing up hotel toilets with minor explosives. We now know why Keith had a buck tooth, and how a birthday cake was responsible for a lifetime ban* on one of Britain’s finest ever Rock gods.
*The Holiday Inn later lifted the ban on The Who after much publicity following on from a VH1 music special. Using cakes however in a food fight scenario can still get you kicked out on a cold winter’s evening.