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Pope Keith I

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Over the years, rock n’ roll tour manager Regis Boff worked with a wide assortment of talent that ranged from the beloved folkie Melanie Safka,to the English rock band Genesis. Needless to say, he picked up some pretty memorable stories along the way. What follows is just one, dating back to his days with The Who, when they were at the peak of their popularity — and outlandishness.

Keith Moon of The Who was working as the doorman at the Navarro Hotel in New York on the night that Pope Paul VI died. It was August 6, 1978.

He (not the Pope) was wearing a six-foot-long Indian Chieftain feathered headdress. We were sitting around feeling satisfied that Moon’s whereabouts had been limited. Mr. Russell, the hotel manager, reported that he was being cordial to the arriving guests and faithfully passing all his tips to the real bellman.

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It wasn’t long before Keith crashed through our door with a phalanx of groupies, bellboys and security, while still wearing his feathers.

“Have you heard the news yet?” He was nearly moaning with emotion. “Some Pope is dead! I heard it from a bloke from Indianapolis as I was carrying his bags into the lobby.”

He whirled on Anne Wheldon, our publicist. Anne, on a standard day, is too terrified to breathe deeply. “Anne, get me someone from The New York Times and Billboard Magazine. Go right to the top. I am throwing my hat into the Papal ring.”

By now there were maybe twenty assorted people in the room.Crowds were his specialty.

He hunched over the phone with a guy from the Times. We were as quiet as possible and heard him say, “I have wanted to leave the band for years,” “No, I am not Catholic yet,” and “Don’t let that motherfucker Jagger hear about this, he is the devil, you know.” Keith put his hands over the phone and with panic in his eyes yelled, “He wants to know what qualifies me to be the next Pope?” Bill Curbishley shouted back to him, “Tell him twenty-five gold albums.”

Regis Boff

PS.  Another great rock drummer shows a different side of his craft.  And the fans weigh in on their fave Who albums.

Photo: Jack Kay (Daily Express/Hulton Archive), courtesy Getty Images


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