Doug Sandom, the Who's original drummer, has died. He had just turned 89.

"A bricklayer by trade, Doug was an excellent drummer but was considered by our first record label to be too old for us," Pete Townshend said in a new post on the band's official site. "It was his age and his wisdom that made him important to me."

Sandom joined in 1962, when the band was still known as the Detours, and stayed on until the newly rechristened Who were on the cusp of a big break. The drummer's wife, Lily, apparently resented the time spent building their new career, however, and Sandom arrived for an April 1964 label audition in a surly mood. Townshend criticized his efforts, and Sandom quit.

Keith Moon stepped in for Sandom, and the group set upon a path to stardom. Their old drummer told the Express in 2014 that "leaving the Who was the biggest mistake of my life."

Townshend came to regret what happened, too. "If you have read my book Who I Am, you will know how kind Doug was to me, and how clumsily I dealt with his leaving the band," Townshend said on the Who's official site. "He never sneered at my aspirations the way some of my peers tended to do. (I was a bit of an egoistic handful sometimes.) He encouraged me – as did my best friend in those days, Richard Barnes. Doug took a while to forgive me, but did so in the end, and although I didn't see much of him, we remained friends."

Later in life, Sandom was on the verge of selling his drum kit to make ends meet when he was given a contract to write an autobiography. The Who Before the Who was published in 2014. Townshend wrote the forward.

"It would have been the saddest deal of my life," Sandom told the Express. "I keep that drum kit at the foot of my bed and kiss it every night before I go to sleep. After all, it’s been onstage when we were up there as a support act to the Rolling Stones, the Searchers, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Eric Clapton's Yardbirds."

All of it had been by happenstance, Sandom later admitted. He got the gig only because Roger Daltrey asked him to sit in while the Detours' earlier drummer was out on vacation. So, Sandom held no grudges. "The main thing I want everybody to know," he said in 2012, "I still think the Who is the best fucking rock 'n' roll band in the world."

 

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