It’s 50 years today since I played with The Avalons at the Astoria Ballroom in a little town called Rawtenstall in Lancashire.
We were supporting a top group from London which had already had chart success and appeared on TV. They were The Who.
The ballroom was packed and everyone was eagerly anticipating the headliners. We played our set, as did the other supporting group The Imps, and then enjoyed a very loud performance from the Who. But not before we had to do another set. Keith Moon had gone walkabout in Rawtenstall borrowing our drummer’s jacket.
Beforehand we’d been sharing a backstage area with them and they were a friendly lot. Keith Moon was probably the friendliest whereas Pete Townshend kept himself apart a little bit. He was drinking red wine from the bottle unaware that Keith Moon had urinated in it!
Roy, our drummer remembers that Keith Moon gave him a handful of drumsticks, which he still has, and a beater for a bass/kick drum. He also got to play Keith Moon’s Ludwig kit as they stripped down his own and took it off stage to make room for the Who’s. It was after Roy commented to Keith about the solid sound of his bass drum that Moon put down to the beater that he gave it to Roy (later sold with the drum kit). Crazy but generous.
The Who was using an old ice-cream van (the ones with the elevated roof) as their transport which was quite interesting. One of their road crew offered to sell us a Vox 100 watt amplifier (something beyond our wildest dreams as we were using Vox AC30s and don’t think we’d seen one so big).
I think he wanted £100 for it but apart from the fact we didn’t have that kind of money the amp was stencilled all over with the name of the TV show from which it had been “liberated”.
My friend David, our vocalist, remembers the night vividly and looking back he thinks even then they were a competitive lot which gave rise to some of the tension.
However you’ve got to agree the Who were, and still are when they perform, a great rock band and it was a privilege to support them on that night 50 years ago.