How The Chiswick Women's Refuge Inspired Rock Band The Who

Drummer Keith Moon's visit persuaded the band to start charitable work

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The story of how a women's refuge in Chiswick sparked a lifetime's charity work for rock band The Who, has been revealed in an interview by Pete Townshend.

The band is known for the teen cancer fundraising events spearheaded by former Chiswick resident Roger Daltry, and Pete Townshend. But it was a chance meeting between former drummer Keith Moon, 1946-1978) and actress Joanna Lumley, which sparked the band's involvement in charitable works.

keith moon drummer with The Who

The story of how drummer Keith Moon ended up cleaning toilets in the shelter was revealed on the Ultimate Classic Rock website, originally part of an interview given to Yahoo Music by Pete Townshend.

As Townshend recalls the story, the band members were in the midst of recording their Quadrophenia LP when they received a call from Joanna Lumley, the actor now best known for her role as Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous.

She invited Townshend to meet her in London but Keith Moon offered to go, but, as Townshend put it, he was “very much hoping that it would lead to something sexual, I think.”

“It turned out that what she’d done is invited him to the very, very first women’s refuge in the world [the domestic violence shelter Chiswick’s Women’s Aid, founded in 1971]. And Joanna got him cleaning toilets,” said Townshend. “He came back in tears. And he said, ‘Pete, we’ve got to do something for these women!’”

According to the article, Moon’s epiphany took on added meaning for Townshend later, after he realized Moon had been guilty of “real violent outbursts against his wife” during moments when he suspected her of infidelity — sadly ironic because, as Townshend pointed out, “in fact, it was the other way around.”

In seeing the error of his ways and spurring the band to action, Moon helped spark a lifetime of efforts on behalf of others.

“We started to do shows for the woman [Erin Pizzey] who started [the refuge]. And that’s how charity work began for me and for the band. And we’ve gone on from there,” added Townshend. “Anyway, that was a great moment. And it was one of the nicest stories about Keith, I think: that something had touched his heart, because usually he would turn everything into a gag.”

July 28, 2017

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