Legendary drummer Simon Phillips recalled his stint serving as the Who's drummer in 1989 for the band's 25th anniversary tour. Phillips, who made his bones recording and performing with Pete Townshend, Jeff Beck, Jon Anderson, Jack Bruce, Judas Priest and more, before performing with Toto between 1992 and 2013.
Phillips, who remains one of rock's most lauded and technically proficient drummers, admitted he didn't frow up a huge fan of Keith Moon's: “Once we started learning all the music for the Who tour in 1989, and I really got into listening to everything he played. . . then I thought, 'Wow.' There were certain things that I would do every night that I would just copy a couple of his fills, just as a tip of the hat, respect, just because they tickled me so much. There was on fill in the 'Overture' of Tommy. I’ll never forget it. He just played a shuffle as a fill. Every time I hear that, I’m on the floor laughing. So I used to do that every night.”
Phillips is renown for his work on Townshend's solo albums Empty Glass, All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, and White City (A Novel) — along with performing as part of Townshend's solo band, Deep End. He recalled being asked to join the Who on tour and replace drummer Kenny Jones: “(Pete) came in one day to the room where I was working and said, 'How would you like to play with the Who?' I went, 'What about Kenney?' I thought Kenney was still the drummer, and I like Kenney. He said, 'Don’t worry about that. We’ll sort that out. Roger (Daltrey) and Kenney have had their fill of each other. We’d love you to come play.' I said, 'Wow, I’d love to.' That was nearly two years before. I think it was just a question he wanted to pose to see if it was possible because these tours do take a bit of planning. That was it. Off we went.”
Pete Townshend recalled to us the Who's massively successful, but somewhat spiritless, 25th anniversary tour: “Y'know, the fact was at the time, the Who, as a band as we'd known it in the past had kind of come apart. We were just three floating figures, and we felt that we were coming together under a brand name. And Roger (Daltrey) and I have a sense of this today. But since John (Entwistle)'s departure, we haven't been so acutely uncomfortable about it.”
Roger Daltrey admitted to us that the 1989 outing hardly ranks as one of his favorite Who road treks: “It was a very difficult tour. Pete didn't want to play electric guitar, he played most of it acoustic. It was just. . . . We had another lead guitarist. . . (The) chemistry wasn't there for me. I had to work my balls off every night on a three-hour-show, working towards nowhere, y'know? So, I didn't like it at all. That's all.”