The golden age of rock music is known for many things: the technical virtuosity of its musicians, the drug-fueled excess, and the outlandish displays of wealth and power. This last one is important because it was one of the key motivators behind the strange and, in retrospect, incredibly creepy housewarming gift that The Who’s Keith Moon handed to Jeff Beck back in the late 1960s. Let’s take a closer look.
Prior to the drummer’s death in 1978, Beck and Moon were close friends, having met on Carnaby Street when London was still swinging. “Keith and I met at the Speakeasy or other clubs that were watering holes,” Beck once recalled. “When Carnaby Street first opened you could easily meet him down there. Every other day he got fed up with a shirt and got another one – he could afford it. But mostly in nightclubs. The Cromwellian, places like that. I got on with him the easiest. Townshend was a little bit, we were kind of….competition. I got on with Keith on a very loony level. It was a great therapy just being with him”.
It was in one of these speakeasy’s that Moon first attempted to sell Beck the car he was trying to get off his hands. The pair shared a passion for cars and Moon would often ask Beck to come over to his garage to check out his new model. “He came up to me and said: ‘I’ve got a roadster I want to sell you.’ I said: ‘I don’t want it'”. As Beck noted, this wasn’t the first time Moon had adopted the role of a second-hand car salesman. Looking at this particular model, however, Beck wasn’t particularly impressed. “It [the car] was a pile of shit,” he remembered. “It was unbelievable. It had taken root and there were weeds coming out of the seats”.
Despite Moons efforts, Beck refused to buy the car. “He said: ‘Alright, come down the house tomorrow and I’ll give it to you.’ So I drove down. Right on time he turned up in this white [Rolls-Royce] Corniche with this beautiful blonde-haired girl and said: ‘She’s yours’. This is my housewarming present for you”.
That night, Beck stayed in Moon’s spare room “with a jukebox in it and a single mattress on the floor”. In the middle of the night, he was roused by the sound of ‘Beck’s Bolero’ [his first hit single] playing over and over again on the jukebox. Beck promptly unplugged it and went back to bed. A few moments later, “The girl came in and said: ‘Why did you unplug that? Keith and I were really enjoying it.’ Then she said: ‘By the way, I’m not to go back up to Keith’s, I’ve got to stay with you.’ It was a very enjoyable weekend”.