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 TownshendJeff BeckJon AndersonJack BruceJudas 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.”


  • The Who‘s 1989 25th anniversary “The Kids Are Alright” tour featured Pete Townshend, Roger DaltreyJohn Entwistle, drummer Simon Phillips, longtime keyboardist John “Rabbit” Bundrick, and lead guitarist Steve “Boltz” Bolton — along with a second keyboardist, a percussionist, three backing vocalists, and a five-man horn section.
  • Pete Townshend has jokingly referred to the Who’s brief 16-strong line-up as “The Who On Ice.”
  • The tour played 50 dates over two legs — North American and UK, running from June 21st, 1989 to November 2nd, 1989. The band grossed a whopping $36.7 million.
  • Highlights from the dates were featured on the 1990 double-disc live set, Join Together.

CHECK IT OUT: The Who on August 5th, 1989 performing “Subsitiute” live in Kansas City, Missouri:

CHECK IT OUT: The Who on August 24th, 1989 performing “Dig” live in Los Angeles: