When ‘wild man of rock’ Keith Moon tipped an entire bottle of VODKA over Australian funny man: Famed music  photographer recalls moment of mayhem at hands of The Who legend

  • Post category:news
  • Reading time:6 min(s) read

  • EXCLUSIVE: Snapper Danny Clifford recalls encounter with The Who drummer
  •  Moon told him to ‘get your cameras ready’ for a moment he would never forget 

Keith Moon was the last person I thought I would hang out with in London in the summer of 1975. 

I was 17, and my new best mate was considered the ‘wild man of rock’ or ‘Moon the Loon’. Growing up, I could only dream that I would meet such superstars, let alone be friends with one. 

A few months later, Keith told me that his band, The Who, would play a big gig in London. This would be my first chance to photograph and even meet the rest of the band. 

So, in May 1976, we travelled to the gig at Charlton Football Ground in southeast London. Keith Said to me as we arrived, get your cameras ready. I told him I was ready, but why. He just said make sure you are ready. 

As we drove into the backstage area and the limo stopped, we were met by a TV crew. A microphone was thrust towards Keith. The interviewer looked like a comedian to me, and funnily enough, he was. His name was Norman Gunston, and he was from Australia. 

Keith Moon, the legendary drummer from The Who, was snapped (left) drenching Australian comedian Norman Gunston after being taunted by the Aussie during a gig in London in 1976

Keith Moon, the legendary drummer from The Who, was snapped (left) drenching Australian comedian Norman Gunston after being taunted by the Aussie during a gig in London in 1976

Keith jumped out of the car with a woman under each arm and a bottle of Vladivar Vodka in his hand.
Moments later he was pictured confronting the Australian comedian before drenching him in vodka

Moments before the infamous shot was taken, Keith jumped out of the car with a woman under each arm and a bottle of Vladivar Vodka in his hand (left) before storming towards the Australian and eyeing him up (right)

The Who had a reputation for smashing things up and reckless behaviour, writes Danny Clifford. Pictured is the band performing to fans on May 31, 1976 in London

The Who had a reputation for smashing things up and reckless behaviour, writes Danny Clifford. Pictured is the band performing to fans on May 31, 1976 in London 

Keith jumped out of the car with a woman under each arm and a bottle of Vladivar Vodka in his hand. There were words between Keith and Gunston. I was 17 and in a world with no Google, Internet, Twitter or mobile phones, so I didn’t know and didn’t have many ways of finding out, but there was history here! Not between Keith Moon and Gunston, but between The Who and the Australian government. 

The Who had a reputation for smashing things up and reckless behaviour. They had been warned not to do any of that whilst in Australia. Well, they did! So, in 1968, they were pulled off an aircraft and briefly detained by the police. 

Then they were asked to leave the country. The Australian Prime Minister John Gorton told the band, ‘Never set foot in Australia again’. It caused quite a commotion back in the day.

So, here we were on May 31, 1976, and an Australian comedian (whose real name is Garry McDonald) in London was taunting Keith. It was an excellent opportunity for Keith to be, well, shall we say, ‘Moon the Loon’. 

As he walked away from Gunston, he quickly turned back and swiftly poured a bottle of Vladivar Vodka over the comedian’s head. I was busily taking photos with my trusted Nikon F2As. This was, for me, Rock ‘n’ Roll gold. 

Keith and I then swiftly left Mr Gunston dripping and talking to his camera as we headed into the band’s dressing room. I remember meeting Roger Daltrey for the first time, who just gave me the look of death. So, as usual, I took a photo of him. 

Roger Daltrey (pictured), singer from the Who, gave Danny the 'look of death' while he had his photo taken

Roger Daltrey (pictured), singer from the Who, gave Danny the ‘look of death’ while he had his photo taken

Keith is pictured speaking to Gunston moments before he dumped a bottle of vodka over the Australian comedian's head

Keith is pictured speaking to Gunston moments before he dumped a bottle of vodka over the Australian comedian’s head 

He was about to have a go and have me thrown out when Keith said ‘this is Danny, and he is with me’. It all cooled down, but not for long. 

Suddenly in came a small crowd. I immediately recognised the brilliant Radio 1 DJ Annie Nightingale and her husband, the actor Binky Baker. He played a gangster in the TV show London’s Burning. 

Standing next to them was a real gangster, George Davis. I had heard of him and seen many public protests around the UK claiming he was Innocent. Railway bridges were painted on, Cricket pitches dug up, and all sorts of places had the writing, ‘George Davis is Innocent’ all over them. 

His supporters claimed that he wasn’t a prolific armed bank robber and that the police had set him up. He had been released from a 20-year jail sentence only two weeks before this concert. Here he was with his wife, Rose, in the dressing room with Roger Daltrey and others. I had to take a photo. 

I saw a dustbin in the corner of the room with a sticker showing its brand name. It said, ‘Judge’. I thought how appropriate and pushed towards Roger, and I gently corralled everyone behind him for a quick group photo. A year or so later, George Davis was proven guilty as he was caught red-handed with guns outside after robbing a bank. It appeared guilty as charged this time!

Danny was an ambitious young photographer and snapped pictures of The Who during their gig in 1976. Pictured  is Roger Daltrey with Radio 1 DJ Annie Nightingale, her husband, the actor Binky Baker, notorious gangster  George Davis and his wife Rose in Daltrey's dressing room

Danny was an ambitious young photographer and snapped pictures of The Who during their gig in 1976. Pictured  is Roger Daltrey with Radio 1 DJ Annie Nightingale, her husband, the actor Binky Baker, notorious gangster  George Davis and his wife Rose in Daltrey’s dressing room

Danny snapped this image of The Who on a wet May evening which he said was one of his favourite shots of the band ever, as they perform to a huge crowd of fans

Danny snapped this image of The Who on a wet May evening which he said was one of his favourite shots of the band ever, as they perform to a huge crowd of fans 

It was the last day of May, and the weather was miserable; it rained heavily. I saw so many people in the crowd with plastic bags on their heads to try and keep dry. Keith said to me, stand behind my kit, and you won’t get wet during the gig, which I did. I took one of my favourite photos of The Who from there with my Hasselblad camera.

This was one of those crazy days at the early part of my career that will go down in music history. As well as the gig being the loudest in history. Yes, the 31st of May 1976 was quite a day!




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