Cool!Music History

Matt Cameron tested positive for COVID so a fan was drafted to play drums for Pearl Jam.

Ever been in the crowd and wished you could be on stage performing for the crowd? Bands like U2, the Foo Fighters, and Green Day routinely bring fans up to sing or play a song or two. But then there was the special case of Scot Halpin.

Scot was a diehard fan of The Who and couldn’t wait to see them at Cow Palace in San Francisco. When the show rolled around on November 10, 1973, he was as close to the stage as possible. A little over an hour into the show, Keith Moon–a major fan of drugs and alcohol and his case, ketamine and brandy–fell over. Roadies carried him off the stage and threw him in a cold shower in an attempt to revive him. After a shot of cortisone, the show resumed after 30 minutes. After one more song–“Magic Bus,” in case you were wondering–Moon passed out again.

With Moon incapacitated for good, Pete Townshend appealed to the crowd. “Can anybody play drums? I mean, somebody good!”

Halpin stepped forward. After a shot of brandy and with Townshend leading him, Halpin went through a jam and three songs to end the show. History was made. (Halpin died of a brain tumor on February 9, 2008).

A similar sort of thing happened last Thursday (May 12) in Oakland, California, when drummer Matt Cameron was forced to miss his first Pearl Jam show in 24 years after testing positive for COVID. The show had to go on. But how?

Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who is touring with Pearl Jam, knew the songs well enough to take over the kit for part of the set (Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World”, “Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town”, “Why Go” and “Corduroy”) before Jeff Ament’s buddy, Richard Stuverud, came in for “Quick Escape” and “Superblood Wolfmoon.”

Then came an offer to the crowd. “Does anyone know ‘Yellow Ledbetter?'” That’s when Josh Arroyo, a local music teacher, stepped up.

The following night, Matt was still AWOL, so another appeal to the crowd was made. Kai Neukermans, who’s just 17, was chosen to play “Mind Your Manners.”

Unlike The Who episode in 1973, these weren’t people just plucked from the crowd; they were vetted by the band in advance and even had time to rehearse Still, pretty cool, right? And as a big Who fan, you know that Eddie was thinking about Scot Halpin the entire time.

BONUS: That time a guy came out of the stands to play goal for Carolina to beat The Leafs.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38165 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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