Keith Moon was the drummer for The Who from 1964 until his death in 1978. A great drummer with a manic style that spilled over into his personal life, he was as famous for destroying hotel rooms and blowing up toilets as he was for his playing. Maybe the song I remember best was from Who’s Next, which had all kinds of great drumming on it: “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” This was taped live at Kilburn in 1977, one of his last performances.
That was his style: heavy on the cymbals and tom-toms, and bang the hell out of both.
To look at him, you’d think he was Terry Jones of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and indeed, he brought that kind of craziness to the band. Here he lends his vocal skill to “Bell Boy,” from Quadrophenia, again taped live, this time at Charlton in 1974.
Moon spent much of his time with The Who addicted to alcohol, with brandy and champagne being his drugs of choice. He was prescribed Clomethiazole to deal with the alcohol withdrawal symptoms when he chose to detoxify himself. Typically, Clomethiazole isn’t recommended for unsupervised use, because it’s highly addictive itself and could be fatal if mixed with alcohol. For some reason, Keith’s lifestyle and stories of his antics were unknown to his doctor, who wrote him a prescription for a hundred, telling him to take one when he felt like drinking, but never more than three a day. After a row with his girlfriend at the time, Keith committed suicide by swallowing 32 of them (six would have been enough to kill him). He was only 31.
It’s sad that so many great musicians had a self-destructive streak in them and died much too soon.
And on that note… I’ll see you Monday with a word that starts with N and ends with O.