I have a favorite recording of a Barenaked Ladies show from a few years back where an audience member is asked up on stage to play drums with the band. He was holding up a sign in the crowd, and Ed, the lead guitarist told him to come on up. Their drummer, Tyler, politely made room behind his kit, and "this guy" counted them into their song "Alternative Girlfriend" just like he'd been with the band for years. This turned out to be a good thing, since, as "this guy" was making his way to the stage, Ed encouraged the crowd to give him a big hand if he was any good at all, but if he was bad to "really let him have it." When it was over, Ed and Steve (the lead vocalist) were amazed that anybody with a little bit of talent and access to some Bristol board and some magic markers could find themselves on stage with a rock and roll band.
Many of these same thoughts must have gone through the head of Scot Halpin, all those years ago. Scot passed away on February 9 at the age of 54, but it was thirty-five years ago when he made his leap to the fifteen minutes of fame. Scot didn't expect to play drums with The Who when he showed up thirteen hours early for the show at San Francisco's Cow Palace. He just wanted a good seat. Halfway through the opening set, under the influence of animal tranquilizers Keith Moon fell off his stool, and even though he made a brief return after a cold shower and a cortisone shot, he slumped over somewhere in the middle of "Magic Bus". After making it through a Moon-less "See Me, Feel Me", Pete Townshend asked the crowd, "Can anybody play the drums?" He repeated the question, adding forcefully, "I mean someone good!"
Scot's friend got the attention of Bill Graham, the show's promoter, and got him up on the stage. With a shot of brandy to fortify him, he played "Smokestack Lightning", "Spoonful" and "Naked Eye" to close out the show. Halpin credited The Who's stamina, admitting "I only played three numbers and I was dead."
Sadly, like so many other members of The Who, Scot has now joined the list of "ex-members" of The Who. But for those three songs, he was a rock and roll animal (without the benefit of tranquilizers).