Vince Noir's Forgotten Moon
Pop Star's Former Best Friend Speaks Out For First Time
By H.R. McClarin May 5, 2009
The rise to fame of singing sensation Vince Noir, "Rock and Roll Star", has become a familiar story nearly all over the world. Now a global sensation, Noir has permeated nearly every aspect of popular culture, dominating the charts and appearing frequently on television and in the tabloids. Mirrorball suits are selling out of department stores by the thousands. Riding on the success of his recent "WWJD?" (that's, "What Would [Mick] Jagger Do?") worldwide tour, there are even rumors the singer is to become the new face of Jean Claude Jaquettie. But while the world knows Noir as a top tier entertainer with a penchant for glitter, there are those who have come to know a very different side of him. Or - as they would put it - "knew".
I speak specifically about Howard T. J. Moon, zookeeper and former best friend of Noir's. Moon has always shied away from interviews, succeeding in keeping himself out of the public eye. That is, until now. I met Moon at a sleepy café that had obviously seen better days, and we sat down for coffee. He looked like he had seen better days himself, but was extremely polite and, to my surprise, not bitter in the least.
My first question, Howard, is why now? After years of silence why have you suddenly chosen to talk about your past with Vince?
H: I needed the money. (laughs) No, I... It isn't all that sudden of a decision really. I used to not give interviews out of respect for his privacy and things like that but... Well, we're not really that close anymore and people are interested in this sort of thing. I thought I might as well tell them.
You and Vince seem to have quite a history together. He's said himself that you used to be "best mates". "Inseperable".
H: Yeah, well, we were. We grew up together, I'd known him since we were kids in school together. He was this weird kid, big hair all over the place, big eyes. Not quite sure what to do with himself. Of course I'm one to talk. We're the same age but people always thought I was his dad or something. I suppose we became friends because we didn't really have anyone else.
Vince has said he grew up in the jungle and was raised by Bryan Ferry. Is this true?
H: (laughs) With Vince you never know if what he's telling you is the truth. I don't know, I'm not sure if it's completely made up, you know? There might be some truth to it. I do believe he was left to live in the wilderness for several years. When someone finally found him and they stuck in school with me, he would always be amazed by the simplest things. He never really lost that, that childlike wonder. It's stuck with him ever since. I don't know about the whole Bryan Ferry thing. Perhaps he had a tape player and thought Ferry was his dad, I don't know. I always enjoyed his stories, though.
Do you think growing up in the wild sparked his love for animals?
H: I don't know, maybe. He was always very fond of animals, that's true. Claimed he could talk to them. I used to believe him. He was such a wonderful zookeeper, always very kind to the animals. He loved them very much. Working alongside him at the zoo, watching him work with the animals each day... Well, frankly, those were the best days of my life.
Pardon my saying, but I would have thought you'd be more bitter towards him. Angrier?
H: I used to be, believe me. I definitely used to be. It was the circumstances under which he left, which deeply upset me. He had joined an electro band who needed a frontman, and... Well, I'm sure you know all that. The night of their show they needed someone to stand in for their keyboardist who had quit, and Vince asked me to do it. I told him no. He had made me really angry earlier that day, and so I refused. They found someone else in the end, I don't remember who, and got signed to Pie Face Records the next day.
Do you ever wonder what would have happened if you had said yes?
H: Not as much anymore. I used to obsess over it. It nearly drove me mad. I used to think, 'That could be me up there with him'! Though I think if I really had said yes the record deal wouldn't have gone through. We'd always sort of fantasized about being in a band together. Moving to the city, playing clubs and late night venues, that sort of thing. We did give it serious consideration towards the end there. The zoo was going downhill and threatening to shut down.
What were your thoughts when Vince released his album Crimped Nightmares early last year?
H: That... (sighs) It hurt. It really did. I know why he did it. Our crimps were... Crimping is amazing and both he and I knew that when we came up with it. It was something the two of us could create out of nothing. It was a very special and personal thing. I felt... betrayed when I found out about the album, but none of the songs were anything he and I had written together, they were all new. That made it a bit better, I suppose.
He included in the album's special thanks a lone letter "H". Do you think it was meant for you?
H: I did hear about that. I don't know if it was meant for me or not, I don't know him very well anymore.
It's been five years since you've last seen each other, is that right?
H: Yeah, um... Well, five years in June.
You said you're no longer bitter. Have you forgiven him?
H: I think... I eventually came to realize that I was acting just as awful as... Well, just as awful as I thought he was being to me. Thinking it over for years on end I decided that had the situation been reversed I probably would have done the same thing. I was incredibly eager to have my chance at fame back then... Being angry at him was ruining my life, to be quite honest. The Zooniverse did eventually shut down, not long after he left, and I didn't know what to do with myself. It had been the two of us for so long. It was like a divorce, in a way.
Vince has likened your past relationship to a marriage as well. Was there more to it than either of you have let on?
H: He was my best friend in the world. I would have done anything for him.
I asked you at the beginning, but I'll ask you again: Why now?
H: It's taken five years for me to get over what he did. What... we both did to each other. It was tough to do, and it's definitely had an impact on my life. God knows it's had an impact on his. But, I'm proud of him really. Since we were kids he'd talked about becoming a pop star. And now he's done it. I really do believe if he had stuck with me forever I would have just held him back. He never would have gained the success he has today. If anything, I suppose I wanted to do this whole interview as a way to apologize to him. I have no idea if he'll even see this, but I don't know of any other way to reach him. I want to let him know that I'm sorry for acting the way I did, and being so angry at him for so many years. I'm sorry, Vince. I really am.
I stood up to shake Howard's hand and thank him for his time, and he smiled at me sheepishly, attempting to dry his watering eyes on his sleeve. I made Howard the promise that I would get his message to Vince, no matter what. Howard Moon currently works at the Wilsbury local zoo as head keeper. The zoo is open from 10-5pm Monday through Friday, 10-8pm on Saturdays.