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For Three Nights Only: Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, And Keith Moon

Three lucky audiences on Eric Clapton’s 1974 tour saw him joined on stage by half of The Who.

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Photo: Eric Clapton on stage at Cow Palace, San Francisco, July 21, 1974, just before his shows featuring cameos by Pete Townshend and Keith Moon. Courtesy: Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Photo: Eric Clapton on stage at Cow Palace, San Francisco, July 21, 1974, just before his shows featuring cameos by Pete Townshend and Keith Moon. Courtesy: Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Eric Clapton was a busy man in the summer of 1974. In the US touring his new 461 Ocean Boulevard album since mid-June, the schedule took him on August 1 to Atlanta, and a gig at the Omni Coliseum that became widely celebrated and much-bootlegged among Slowhand aficionados.

That was partly because of what happened on stage that night. 24 hours later in Greensboro, North Carolina, it happened again, and another two nights down road in West Palm Beach: Clapton was joined on stage by Pete Townshend and Keith Moon.

Clapton plays Cream

Clapton’s band featured George Terry as second guitarist, his Derek and the Dominos colleague Carl Radle on bass, Dick Sims on keyboards, Jamie Oldaker on drums, and the backing vocals of Yvonne Elliman. Starting the set with “Smile,” Clapton featured such songs as “Let It Grow,” “Willie and the Hand Jive,” and the Cream favorite “Badge.”

The Beatles - Now And Then
The Beatles - Now And Then
The Beatles - Now And Then

But as the Atlanta show came to a conclusion, who should appear from the wings but half of The Who. Townshend jammed with Clapton on “Layla” and Moon sang along with Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie,” performed in a medley with “Baby Don’t You Do It.” Pete then proceeded to smash a plastic ukulele over Eric’s head.

Listen to uDiscover Music’s Eric Clapton Best Of playlist.

The following night in Greensboro (ticket price: $7.50), Townshend appeared earlier in the set for “Hand Jive” and “Get Ready,” returning with Moon for an encore that included “Little Queenie” as well as “Layla” and “Badge.” The Clapton, Townshend & Moon combination would happen once more, on August 4, when the tour headed into a break of several weeks with a gig at the West Palm Beach International Raceway. Townshend, Moon, and even Joe Walsh were on hand to join in the festivities, including a version of The Who’s ”Can’t Explain.”

Can't Find My Way Home (Live)

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None of those shows have been officially released, but we can give you a taste above of Eric’s 1974 tour as it sounded at his Long Beach Arena show about two weeks before that Atlanta escapade.

Buy or stream Eric Clapton live in 1974 and 1975 on E.C. Was Here.





  1. Zan McLeod

    August 1, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    I was at that concert in Atlanta backstage,and on stage…I had been in the dressing room showing Eric and Carl Radle Alembic guitars from my friend Melvin Cohen’s store,Reliable Music. . Some details..They showed up 1/2 way thru the show in a big limousine…Keith Moon was totally drunk..(and whatever). Pete was chugging Jack Daniels right out of the bottle..and smoking a cigar….Clapton was kinda shocked to see their condition….Keith Moon wanted to try and play…he got behind the drum set,but proceeded to fall over and knock down half the drums…they escorted him off,and Jamie Oldecker got back on the drums ….But later, he actually fell 10 feet off the back of the stage onto the concrete floor…got up…brushed off…no damage ! One tough guy ! We sold an Alembic bass to Carl Radle,but Clapton did not like the Alembic guitar…great to meet him anyway..I also played Clapton’s “Blackie”Strat backstage..he had a female guitar tech..We also made it to Greensborop the next night…not as exciting..but great show too.. (where can you get that bootleg audio ? )

  2. Rusty Barkley

    August 1, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    I was at the show in Greensboro, Poco opened. I’m not sure about the dates,I was under the impression it was Clapton’s 29th birthday. Who knows?

  3. Dan Howard

    December 6, 2014 at 5:31 pm


    I have seen that Alembic bass II sold Carl. It is now owned by a guitar collector in Arkansas.

    I’m envious that you got to meet and spend time with these gents. I had the opportunity to be one friends with Dick Sims before he passed and I’ve also become friends with Jamie. Great stories they both have told me.

    Thanks for the post !

  4. mike navalinski

    December 7, 2014 at 8:10 pm


  5. Richard

    June 10, 2015 at 9:28 am

    I was at the Fl. concert. Mudfest as I remember. Strangely, I don’t remember Townsend. Joe Walsh opened and played a full set, and I do remember Keith Moon running around with a tambourine.Clapton was doing his farmer thing with overalls on.Good show.

  6. Dan Hiveley

    January 13, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    I was at the Palm Beach International raceway show August 4 1974. I took a bus there from Tampa watching it rain all the way there. The 15 mile road that led to the raceway was jammed with cars parked off to the side of the road. A complete mess. The rain had turned the dirt track into a sea of mud that we all stood up to our shins in for the whole evening. The show was suppose to start at 4pm. but didn’t get going till 8. The opening act was Ross which I remember being great but never heard of again. Joe Walsh did a great Barnstorm era set starting around 10pm. Clapton didn’t hit the stage till midnight and played most if not all his 461 album as well as a bunch of Derrick and the Dominoes stuff. For the encore Townsend and Moon from the WHO came out and played Layla. One of the greatest shows I’ve ever been to. Being 17 years old at the time I feel blessed to have withstood and witnessed this great part of Rock history.

    • Art

      November 22, 2020 at 12:21 am

      You’re not allowed to leave the ‘h’ out of TOWNSHEND.

  7. Muddyfan

    March 31, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    The reason you don’t remember Townsend is because he wasn’t there in West Palm. Clapton opened with I can’t explain Moonie doing the falsetto bits . You’re absolutely right about the mud and the traffic. The cops deliberately created the traffic jams . Crazy. What a great show. EC closed the show with Smile . I’ll never forget it. What a treat.
    Worth the slog through the mud

    • Art

      November 22, 2020 at 12:21 am

      No, MuddyFan, TOWNSHEND, and you know it.

  8. Mike

    August 1, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    As I recall, in Greensboro, Moon came out pre-show and did some air guitar during Pinball Wizard being played on the PA – Townsend came out later – easy to spot in his “Who Came First” attire – white Esso jumpsuit.

  9. Robert Frazer

    August 1, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    Actually Townsend WAS at the West Palm show. I know because I was a stage hand on that show sitting in the wings SL. The wind blew the Handley roof into the SL PA stack and they had to reconfigure the PA with what they had left. Moon came out initially with a white wedding dress on and they chased him around the stage and ripped it off. Townsend came out for Layla at the end, and they both chased a huge frog around the stage. The mosquitoes were as big as hummingbirds because this place was out in a swamp. Fun gig.

    • Art

      November 22, 2020 at 12:20 am

      There is no Townsend, only TOWNSHEND! C ya!

  10. Mark Webb

    August 3, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    I attended the West Palm Beach “mudfest” as well. Mahogany Rush opened, followed by Walsh who was ttouring behind “The Smoker You Get………..” LP. Pete Townsend was on stage for the “Layla” encore. I’m not certain about Moon. Wasn’t Keith Relf on stage for “Layla”?

  11. Larry Ridge

    August 5, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    I was on the stage for the Palm Beach concert I can affirm that Keith Moon was on stage in a wedding dress. 100% they closed with Layla, which Clapton always did at the time. The fence at the bottom the hill the stage was perched on came down when Layla started.
    Mudfest and traffic jame for sure for sure!
    The reason I was backstage was because I broke my wrist jumpin a fence so I didn’t have to slog thru the mud at the gate. he medical people took me backstage and I never left.
    I seem to remember a lot of bands being there that day, but the names escape me and I lost all my ticket stubs.

  12. Alan L. Burge

    August 1, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    My wife and I were at the Atlanta show and Zan described it perfectly. I still have a copy of the next-day’s newspaper article about it.

  13. Chuck Shepherd

    August 2, 2017 at 9:49 am

    Saw this show in Greensboro Friday August 2nd 1974,festival seating for $7.00.
    My first Clapton concert.

  14. James

    August 2, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Some great stories here. I first saw Eric one year later in 1975 at The Fabulous Forum and Keith Moon was there. Didn’t play but he ran across the stage during a song, knocking over most of Eric’s guitars. He was not amused. Saw him again 2 days later at the Swing in San Berdoo. No Moon, Santana opened both shows and joined Eric for the encores. This September I will see Eric at the Forum again. My 20th time seeing Eric. Not counting seeing him come on with the Stones a couple of times and Live Aid back in 85 in Philly.

  15. Justiss

    March 1, 2018 at 11:18 pm

    Anyone remember if Keith Moon was wearing a White with red and blue stripes Colorado Springs jersey for one of these shows?

  16. Riclat

    February 28, 2019 at 9:45 pm

    I was also at the show in Greensboro. Poco didn’t open, though. It was some RSO band I’d never heard of and haven’t heard of since. Poco did open for the Stills/Young Band in Gboro a year or two later. We’d waited in line for the doors to open, and with festival seating we were very close to the stage. One of the loudest concerts I’ve attended, but maybe that’s because it was my first and I was up front. Before the bands came out there was speculation that Townshend and Moon might appear. After the opening act and intermission, Legs Larry Smith came out, followed by Moon, with a broom, I think. Photos of the show are floating around on the internet. Seeing Clapton set my musical sights in a new direction that would lead to a deep love of the blues in all forms.

  17. Lee Crouch

    December 7, 2021 at 3:14 pm

    Hugh MACRAE , David Jones and I were at the Greensboro NC show. Great show and then the two WHO clowns came out for the encore. Townsend doing his 360 arm action gave them away to the crowd. It was as good as it gets!

  18. Rick Siegfried

    August 3, 2022 at 10:08 pm

    I was at the Long Beach show. It would have been nice for Pete and Keith had shown up for this show! Despite the no-show of half The Who, the show was awesome! And I was very pleased when the show was officially released!

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