Mike Portnoy on The Who's Live at Leeds



© Scott D. Smith/Retna ./Retna Ltd./Corbis

In the latest issue of Rhythm you'll find Mike Portnoy telling us all about why he loves The Who's Live At Leeds. And boy does Portnoy love that album. So much so that we couldn't fit all he had to say into the mag, so here's some more from the blue bearded drum legend.

How did you first become aware of The Who?

"My love for The Who came on two levels. The first was from when I was two or three when Tommy came out. I was born in '67 and Tommy came out in '60. My dad introduced me to the album when it came out. My next level came when I was around 12 in 1979 when The Kids Are Alright movie came out. I saw it in the movie theatre in '79 and even though I'd been listening to them my entire childhood, that was my first time seeing Keith play and seeing Keith was a whole different experience. Most people my generation will talk about seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, for me that pivotal moment was seeing The Kids Are Alright and seeing Keith on the big screen, I was completely riveted by his personality, I couldn't take my eyes off him. That was the moment I knew I wanted to be a drummer."

What attracted you to Keith's playing?

"His playing style was absolutely unique. He never played a straight beat, he played around the beat. It was constant flurries of tom fills, crashes and double bass. One level of his uniqueness was his playing, but the other level was his stage performing, which to me was riveting. It completely inspired me."

Portnoy on Moon: "I was completely riveted by his personality, I couldn't take my eyes off him. That was the moment I knew I wanted to be a drummer."

What makes Live At Leeds so special?

"If I had to pull out the quintessential Keith Moon performance I would say the whole Live At Leeds performance. Live At Leeds is one of those examples that if you're going to pull out an album to represent a drummer that would be the one. You listen to Keith's performance on the whole album and it's breathtaking."

Of course you paid tribute to Keith with your band Amazing Journey

"Keith is one of my all-time biggest drum heroes. Me and Paul Gilbert did a series of tribute bands. We did a Beatles tribute, a Led Zeppelin tribute and a Rush tribute. The only remaining drummer on my hit list was Keith. We put together Amazing Journey. I probably had the most fun emulating Keith's style because he was such a unique player. I had a replica kit with three matching rack times and three crashes, no hi-hat, no ride, no chinas, no splashes and I went into full-on Moony mode. For two hours I got to be my hero. It was a blast."

Rich Chamberlain

Rich is a teacher, one time Rhythm staff writer and experienced freelance journalist who has interviewed countless revered musicians, engineers, producers and stars for the our world-leading music making portfolio, including such titles as Rhythm, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, and MusicRadar. His victims include such luminaries as Ice T, Mark Guilani and Jamie Oliver (the drumming one).