Keith Moon

Keith Moon
Keith Moon

Keith Moon in 1975
Background information
Birth name Keith John Moon
Born 23 August 1946(1946-08-23)
Wembley, Middlesex, England
Died 7 September 1978(1978-09-07) (aged 32)
Westminster, London
Genres Rock, art rock, hard rock, power pop
Occupations Musician, songwriter, producer, actor
Instruments Drums, percussion, vocals, bugle, trumpet, tuba
Years active 1964–1978
Associated acts The Who, Plastic Ono Band, Jeff Beck Group

Keith John Moon (23 August 1946[1] – 7 September 1978) was an English musician, best known for being the drummer of the English rock group The Who. He gained acclaim for his exuberant and innovative drumming style, and notoriety for his eccentric and often self-destructive behaviour, earning him the nickname "Moon the Loon". Moon joined The Who in 1964. He played on all albums and singles from their debut, 1964's "Zoot Suit", to 1978's Who Are You, which was released three weeks before his death.

Moon was known for dramatic, suspenseful drumming—often eschewing basic back beats for a fluid, busy technique focused on fast, cascading rolls across the toms, ambidextrous double bass drum work and wild cymbal crashes and washes. He is mentioned in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the greatest of all rock and roll drummers,[2] and was posthumously inducted into the Rock Hall as a member of The Who in 1990.

Moon's legacy, as a member of The Who, as a solo artist, and as an eccentric personality, continues to garner awards and praise, including a Rolling Stone readers' pick placing him in second place of the magazine's "best drummers of all time" in 2011,[3] nearly 35 years after his death.


Early life

Keith John Moon lived in Wembley, Middlesex. As a boy he was hyperactive and had a restless imagination. As a youth, the one thing that could hold his attention was music. Moon failed his eleven plus exam, and thus went to a secondary modern school, where in a report his art teacher commented: 'Retarded artistically. Idiotic in other respects'.[4] Teacher Aaron Sofocleous praised his music skills and encouraged his chaotic style, even if one school report noted "He has great ability, but must guard against a tendency to show off". Often on his way home from school Keith would go to Macari's Music Studio in Ealing Road and would take instruction and practice on the drums there, where he learned his basic drumming skills. He left school in 1961.

On 17 March 1966, Moon married his pregnant girlfriend Kim Kerrigan in secrecy. Their daughter Amanda was born on 12 July 1966. Kerrigan left him in 1973. She took Mandy with her to live in the house of Faces keyboard player Ian McLagan, with whom she was having an affair, and divorced Moon in 1975. (Kerrigan and McLagan married in October 1978, one month after Moon's death. She was killed in a car crash in Texas in 2006). Before his divorce Moon dated Georgiana Steele, a British-born former fashion model who worked in their quadrophonic recording studio, Ramport, in Battersea, and in 1974 Moon began dating Swedish model Annette Walter-Lax.

Early musical career

At age twelve, Moon joined his local Sea Cadet Corps band as a bugle player but traded his position to be a drummer.[5] He started to play the drums at age fourteen after his father bought him a kit. He received lessons from one of the loudest drummers at the time, Carlo Little, paying him ten shillings a lesson.[6] During this time he joined his first serious band The Escorts.[4] He later spent 18 months as the drummer for The Beachcombers, a London cover band notable for renditions of songs by Cliff Richard.[7]

Moon initially played in the drumming style of American surf rock and jazz, with a mix of R&B, utilising grooves and fills of those genres, particularly Hal Blaine of Wrecking Crew. However, he played faster and louder, with more persistence and authority. Moon's favourite musicians were jazz artists Gene Krupa and Sonny Rollins.

Moon also enjoyed singing, particularly giving backing vocals that involved a light-sounding falsetto, and he adored the vocal styling of Motown soul music.[8]

The Who

Roger Daltrey and Keith Moon, 1967

At age 17, Moon joined The Who, replacing Doug Sandom after the band received the news that they could not expect a recording contract without a better drummer. Early in The Who's career, as they gained a following, they sought to set themselves apart from other bands of the time. When their live sets culminated in what they later described as "auto-destructive art", with Pete Townshend (and Moon delightedly following suit) destroying their equipment in elaborate fashion, they made a name for themselves in the press and gained the attention they had lacked. It was an act that was imitated by other bands and artists including Jimi Hendrix (who had just signed with the same label) in his break-out performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Moon showed a zeal for this, kicking and smashing his drums. During the end of their 1967 appearance performing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Moon had explosives loaded into one of his kit's two bass drums. During the finale of "My Generation", he kicked the other drum off the riser and then set off the charge, with the intensity of the explosion surprising even himself. He singed Townshend's hair and embedded a piece of cymbal in his own arm. The blast has been speculated as starting Townshend's tinnitus,[citation needed] though Townshend himself attributes his hearing loss to years of headphone use in the recording studio.[9] During one of his few drum solo performances on television, Moon filled clear acrylic drums with water and goldfish, playing them for the audience. Antics like these earned him the nicknames "Moon the Loon" and "Mad Moon". Cultivating publicity for his behaviour, he became one of the most well-known drummers in his generation, and the other members of the Who benefited from the exposure as well.

His propensity for making his bandmates laugh around the vocal microphone whilst recording led them to banish him from the studio when vocals were being recorded. This led to a game, Moon sneaking in to join the singing. He can be heard singing lead on several tracks, including "Bell Boy" (Quadrophenia, 1973), "Bucket T" and "Barbara Ann" (Ready Steady Who EP, 1966), and the high backing vocals on other songs, such as "Pictures Of Lily".

Moon, Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto 1976

Moon was credited as composer of "I Need You", which he also sang, and the instrumental "Cobwebs and Strange" (from A Quick One, 1966), the single B-sides "In The City" (co-written by Moon and Entwistle), "Dogs Part Two" (1969) (sharing credits with Townshend's and Entwistle's dogs, Towser and Jason), "Tommy's Holiday Camp" (1969), "Waspman" (1972), and "Girl's Eyes" (from The Who Sell Out sessions; featured on Thirty Years of Maximum R&B and a 1995 re-release of The Who Sell Out). He also co-composed the instrumental "The Ox" (from the debut album My Generation) with Townshend, Entwistle and keyboardist Nicky Hopkins. "Tommy's Holiday Camp" (from Tommy) was credited to Moon, who suggested the action should take place in a holiday camp. The song was written by Townshend, and although there is a misconception that Moon sings on the track, the version on the album is Townshend's demo. However Moon did sing it in live concerts, and on the film version of Tommy. He also produced "Baba O'Riley"'s violin solo (which he had suggested), performed by Dave Arbus, a friend.

Daltrey said Moon's drumming style held the band together; that Entwistle and Townshend "were like knitting needles... and Keith was the ball of wool."

Many rock drummers have cited Moon as an influence, including Neil Peart[10] and Dave Grohl.[11] The Jam paid tribute to Moon on the second single from their third album, "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight", in which the B-side of the single is a cover song from The Who: "So Sad About Us", and the back cover of the record is a photo of Moon's face; the Jam's record was released about a month after Moon's death.


Moon led a very destructive lifestyle. He laid waste to hotel rooms, the homes of friends and even his own home, throwing furniture out of high windows and setting fire to buildings. In one case, the band were due to perform at The Valley (home of Charlton Athletic F.C.), and were waiting in the dressing room for Moon to arrive. A witness described the drummer's sudden entry: "Suddenly, there was a great crash and Keith Moon dropped through the ceiling, having smashed his way through the corrugated iron roof."[12]

Along with his drum sets, Moon's infamous (and favourite) calling card was to flush powerful explosives down toilets.[7][13] It has been estimated that his destruction of toilets and plumbing ran as high as UK£300,000 (US$500,000).[14][15] His levels of destruction forced the band to stay outside of New York City when they performed there, and his repeated practice of blowing up toilets with explosives led to Moon being banned for life from lodging at several hotel chains around the world, including all Holiday Inn, Sheraton, and Hilton Hotels,[16] as well as the Waldorf Astoria.[17] Moon became so notorious for this practice that when Nick Harper was asked about his childhood memories spent around The Who, his first recollection was, "I remember Keith blowing up the toilets."[18]

“One day I was in Keith’s room and I said, ‘Could I use your bog?’ and he smiled and said, ‘Sure.’ I went in there and there was no toilet, just sort of an S bend, and I thought ‘Christ, what happened?’ He said, ‘Well this cherry bomb was about to go off in me hand and I threw it down the toilet to stop it going off.’ So I said, ‘Are they that powerful?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, it’s incredible!’ So I said, ‘How many of ‘em have you got?’ with fear in me eyes. He laughed and said, ‘Five hundred,’ and opened up a case full to the top with cherry bombs. And of course from that moment on we got thrown out of every hotel we ever stayed in.”

Pete Townshend, from the book Amazing Journey: The Life of Pete Townshend by Mark Wilkerson[19]

According to Tony Fletcher's biography, Moon's toilet pyrotechnics began in 1965, when he purchased 500 cherry bombs.[7][20] In time, Moon would graduate from just cherry bombs to taking out toilets with M-80s. Eventually, Moon began using sticks of dynamite, his explosive of choice, to destroy toilets.[21] "All that porcelain flying through the air was quite unforgettable," Moon recalled. "I never realised dynamite was so powerful. I'd been used to penny bangers before."[7] In a very short period of time, Moon developed a reputation of "leaving holes" in bathroom floors, completely annihilating the toilets, mesmerising Moon and enhancing his reputation as rock and roll's premier hellraiser.[7] Fletcher goes on to state that, "no toilet in a hotel or changing room was safe," until Moon had detonated his supply of explosives.[7]

Unknown to many people at the time, Moon was often able to cajole John Entwistle into helping him blow up toilets. In a 1981 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Entwistle confessed, "A lot of times when Keith was blowing up toilets I was standing behind him with the matches."[22] During one incident between Moon and hotel management, Moon was asked to turn down his cassette player because The Who were making "too much noise." In response, Moon asked the manager up to his room, lit a stick of dynamite in the toilet, and shut the bathroom door. Following the explosion, Moon informed the startled manager, "That, dear boy, was noise." Moon then turned the cassette player back on and proclaimed, "This is The Who."[23][24] On a different occasion in Alabama, Moon and Entwistle loaded a toilet with cherry bombs because they could not receive room service. According to Entwistle, "That toilet was just dust all over the walls by the time we checked out. The management brought our suitcases down to the gig and said: 'Don't come back...'"[25]

The acts, though often fuelled by drugs and alcohol, were his way of expressing his eccentricity, as well as the joy he got from shocking the public.[7] In Moon's biography, Full Moon, longtime friend and personal assistant Dougal Butler, observed: "He would do anything if he knew that there were enough people around who didn't want him to do it."

According to Townshend, Moon's reputation for erratic behaviour was something he cultivated. Once, on the way to an airport, Moon insisted they return to their hotel, saying, "I forgot something. We've got to go back!" When the limo returned, Moon ran to his room, grabbed the television while it was plugged in, threw it out the window and into the pool. He then jumped back into the limousine, sighing "I nearly forgot".

In 1967, Moon set in motion events which would become one of rock's most famous legends. According to the book Local DJ, a Rock & Roll History, after The Who opened for Herman's Hermits, Moon celebrated his 21st birthday party at the Holiday Inn in Flint, Michigan. Already intoxicated, he began the celebration by lighting a stick of dynamite in the toilet of his room. When the dynamite did not flush, Moon leapt out of the bathroom at the last possible moment to avoid porcelain toilet shards from the blast.[26] He then allegedly drove a Cadillac (according to Moon's own account, it was a Lincoln Continental) into the hotel pool. While Holiday Inn management had begrudgingly tolerated Moon's notorious history of blowing up toilets at other locations as long as the damage was paid for, they decided after the car incident that they had had enough; Moon and The Who were subsequently banned from all Holiday Inns for life, as well as from Flint. Author Peter C. Cavanaugh, who was there and witnessed the event firsthand, recalled the events for a documentary on the 1960s rock scene.[27] According to the book, The Who In Their Own Words, Moon said the Holiday Inn incident was how he broke his front tooth. Other people who attended the event, including Entwistle, cast doubt on the veracity of the car-in-the-swimming-pool story, but confirm some other parts of the tale. Another version of the night was recounted by Moon biographer Tony Fletcher in the book Moon: The Life and Death of a Rock Legend; "It was (after a cake fight) that the cry came to 'debag' the birthday boy... Various members of (Herman's Hermits and The Who) launched themselves on Keith, pinned him to the floor and successfully pulled his trousers down... As the teenage girls began gasping and giggling and the cops started grunting their disapproval, Keith, naked from the waist down, made a good-natured dash for it out of the room...and smashed one of his front teeth out".(p210) It was after Moon went to the dentist and the party was disbanded that the 30 to 40 guests filed out, a few taking fire extinguishers to cars and dirtying the swimming pool. According to VH1's Behind the Music, the broken tooth came from Moon diving into the pool at the Flint Holiday Inn when there was no water in it.

Passing out on stage

Moon's penchant for the wild life was not only outwardly detrimental; it began to take a toll on his health while he was still in his twenties, as well as on his drumming and his reliability as a band member. On the 1973 Quadrophenia tour, at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California, Moon took a large mixture of horse tranquillisers and brandy. He passed out during "Won't Get Fooled Again" and again in "Magic Bus". Townshend asked the audience, "Can anyone play the drums? – I mean somebody good". An audience member, Scot Halpin, filled in for the rest of the show. Townshend later said in an interview that Moon had consumed large tranquilliser pills, meant to be shot at animals, with the brandy.[28] During the band's recording sabbatical between 1975 and 1978, Moon put on a great deal of weight. Nonetheless, Entwistle maintained that Moon and The Who reached their prime live peak during 1975 and 1976. That tour earned them Rolling Stone's 'red suspenders' for best live rock band.

Moon's close friend Ringo Starr was seriously concerned about his lifestyle and told Moon that if he kept going the way he was he would eventually kill himself. Moon simply replied "Yeah, I know."[29]

Personal relationships

A darker side to Moon's behaviour, tentatively diagnosed as caused by a borderline personality disorder in Fletcher's biography, was the eruption of physical violence towards his wife Kim. Although he never hit his later girlfriend Annette, he was verbally abusive toward her. Moon loved his daughter Mandy, but he had not been prepared to be a father, and this translated to an uneasy relationship with her as a very young girl, as he was not quite sure how to relate to her. When Kim at last left him, his jealousy towards his wife was powerful enough that Moon was even prepared to pay someone to break the fingers of Faces keyboardist Ian "Mac" McLagan who became Kim's boyfriend after the marital break-up. It was not until a month after Moon's death that the two married.

Annette Walter-Lax described his Mr Hyde-like change into a growling, uncontrollable beast as something out of a horror movie. She begged Malibu neighbour Larry Hagman to check Moon into yet another clinic to dry out, (as he had tried more than once before) but when doctors recorded Moon's intake at breakfast (a full bottle of champagne along with Courvoisier along with amphetamines), they concluded there was no hope.[30]

Alice Cooper remembers their drinking club, The Hollywood Vampires, commenting that Moon ("the Puck of Rock 'n' Roll") used to enter dressed up as the Pope, one of many costumes he wore to elicit humour from others.[31] Joe Walsh recorded chats with Moon, finding it remarkable how witty and alert the inebriated drummer managed to stay, ad-libbing his way through surrealistic fantasy stories à la Peter Cook, which Cooper reaffirms, saying he was not even certain he ever knew the real Keith Moon, or if there was one.

Keith Moon showing off atop his drumkit Toronto, 21 October 1976

In the documentary Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who, Daltrey and Townshend state that Moon had a real talent for dressing up in a variety of various characters and embodying them; they recount how Moon often dreamed of getting out of music to be a Hollywood actor.[8]

The Hollywood Vampires was also attended by the likes of John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood all of whom Moon maintained friendships with. Another of Keith's friends was Larry Smith, who was regularly seen partying with Moon.

In 1974, Moon struck up a friendship with actor Oliver Reed, while working on the movie version of Tommy.

Aside from his romantic relationships, although his behaviour was outrageous, it was in the humorous vein[7] as his friend Vivian Stanshall, of the Bonzo Dog Band claimed. Moon produced Stanshall's version of Terry Stafford's Suspicion.

Moon owned a lilac-coloured Rolls-Royce, painted with house paint. On Top Gear,[32] Daltrey commented that Moon liked to take upper-class icons and make them working class. The car is now owned by Middlebrook Garages (based in Nottinghamshire).

Car-pedestrian death

On 4 January 1970, Moon was involved in a car-pedestrian death outside the Red Lion pub in Hatfield, Hertfordshire. Trying to escape hostile patrons from the pub who had begun to attack his Bentley, Moon, drunk, attempted to take control of his car, which in the melee, ran over and killed his friend, driver, and bodyguard, Neil Boland. Although the coroner said Boland's death was an accident and Moon was given an absolute discharge having been charged with driving offences, those close to him said Moon was haunted by the accident for the rest of his life. Boland's daughter spent a significant amount of time investigating and questioning each witness from the police blotter, and concluded that Moon was not the person behind the wheel of the car.[33][34] However, Keith never recovered from feelings of guilt. Pamela Des Barres, a groupie with whom Moon had had an ongoing relationship over the course of three years in Los Angeles, was alarmed by his frequent nightmares, which woke them both during the night, with Moon convinced that he had no right to be alive.[35]

Work outside The Who

It was Moon who recommended the name "Led Zeppelin" to Jimmy Page who intended to name his new band 'Mad Dog'. According to Oxford lexicographer Susie Dent, Moon and Entwistle were speculating with Page about the possible formation of a supergroup when Moon remarked that a particular suggestion had gone down like a "lead zeppelin" (i.e. "lead balloon"). Page remembered the odd expression and later adopted it as the name for his newly forming band, however manager Peter Grant, while doodling with the name on a pad of paper, spelled "lead" as "led" because he thought otherwise it would be mispronounced (as /li:d/ -lead).[36] Although Moon's work with The Who dominated his career, he participated in minor outside projects. In 1966, he did his first work with Yardbirds guitarist Jeff Beck, session man Nicky Hopkins, and future Led Zeppelin members Page and John Paul Jones to record an instrumental, "Beck's Bolero", released as a single-double later that year. He also played timpani on another track, "Ol' Man River" (credited on the back of the album as "You Know Who").

On 15 December 1969, Moon joined John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band for a live performance at the Lyceum Ballroom in London for a UNICEF charity concert. The supergroup also consisted of Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Nicky Hopkins, Yoko Ono, Billy Preston and Klaus Voormann. The band played Lennon's Cold Turkey and Ono's Don't Worry Kyoko. The performance was eventually released in 1972 as a companion disc to Lennon's and Ono's Some Time In New York City LP.

In 1973, Moon was featured in the film That'll Be the Day, playing J.D. Clover, the drummer in a fictional early-era rock-and-roll band called Stray Cats. He would reprise this role the following year in Michael Apted's sequel, Stardust.

In 1974 Track Records/MCA released a solo single: "Don't Worry, Baby" backed with "Teenage Idol", a reflection of his love of The Beach Boys.

On Valentine's Day 1974, Moon performed on drums with Jimmy Page, Ronnie Lane, Max Middleton and fellow drummer John Bonham on acoustic guitar for the gig premiering Roy Harper's album Valentine.

In 1974, he played drums on Harry Nilsson's album "Pussy Cats" produced by John Lennon.

In 1975, he released his only solo album, pop covers entitled Two Sides of the Moon. Although this featured Moon's singing, much drumming was left to other artists including Ringo Starr, session musicians Curly Smith and Jim Keltner and actor/musician Miguel Ferrer (Twin Peaks and Crossing Jordan). Moon played drums on only three tracks.

In late 1975, he played drums on the track "Bo Diddley Jam" on Bo Diddley's The 20th Anniversary of Rock 'n' Roll all-star album.

In 1971, he had a cameo role in Frank Zappa's film 200 Motels. He acted in drag as a nun fearful of death from overdosing on pills. In 1973 he appeared in That'll Be the Day, playing J.D. Clover, the drummer at a holiday camp during the early days of British rock 'n' roll. Moon reprised the role for the sequel Stardust in 1974. The film co-starred Moon's friend Ringo Starr of The Beatles. He appeared as "Uncle Ernie" in Ken Russell's 1975 film adaptation of Tommy.

In a bar about 1975, he asked Graham Chapman and Bernard McKenna to do a "treatment" for a "mad movie". They asked a thousand pounds, Moon pulled the cash from his pocket and gave it to them. This was the start of the project that would become the movie Yellowbeard. Moon wanted to play the lead but the movie took many years to develop, and by that time he was in physically poor shape, and unsuitable.[37] He had also been invited by the Monty Python group to join them in Tunisia for their filming of Monty Python's Life of Brian, where he was to play some of the smaller roles. He died shortly before filming started.

In 1976, he covered the Beatles' "When I'm Sixty-Four" for the soundtrack of the documentary All This and World War II.

He joined Led Zeppelin on stage and drummed with John Bonham for encores in a show on 23 June 1977 at the L.A. Forum (recorded on Led Zeppelin bootlegs, For Badgeholders Only/Sgt. Page's Badgeholders Only Club).

He impersonated a camp fashion designer in Sextette (1978), starring Mae West.

Moon once owned a hotel, the Crown and Cushion in Chipping Norton where he held "lavish parties". A receptionist at the hotel told a guest Moon bought it from Petula Clark.


Moon's plaque at Golders Green Crematorium

Moon was Paul McCartney's guest at a film preview of The Buddy Holly Story on the evening of 6 September 1978. After dining with Paul and Linda McCartney at Peppermint Park in Covent Garden, Moon and his girlfriend, Annette Walter-Lax, returned to a flat on loan from Harry Nilsson, No.12 at 9 Curzon Place, Shepherd Market, Mayfair in which Cass Elliot had died a little more than four years earlier.[38][39] Moon watched a film, The Abominable Doctor Phibes and requested Annette cook him a breakfast of steak and eggs. When she objected, he replied "If you don't like it, you can just fuck off!" These turned out to be his last words.

Moon then took 32 tablets of clomethiazole (Heminevrin).[7] The medication was a sedative he had been prescribed to alleviate his alcohol withdrawal symptoms as he tried to dry out on his own at home; he was desperate to get clean, but was terrified of another stay in the psychiatric hospital for in-patient detoxification. However, clomethiazole is specifically contraindicated for unsupervised home detox because of its addictiveness, tendency to rapidly induce drug tolerance and dangerously high risk of death when mixed with alcohol.[40] The pills were also prescribed by a new doctor, Dr. Geoffrey Dymond, who was unaware of Moon's recklessly impulsive nature and long history of prescription sedative abuse. He had given Moon a full bottle of 100 pills, and instructed him to take one whenever he felt a craving for alcohol (but not more than 3 per day). The police determined there were 32 pills in his system, with the digestion of 6 being sufficient to cause his death, and the other 26 of which were still undissolved when he died.[7]

Moon died shortly after the release of Who Are You. On the album cover, he is seated on a chair back-to-front to hide the weight gained over three years (as discussed in Tony Fletcher's book Dear Boy); the words "NOT TO BE TAKEN AWAY" appear on the back of the chair.

Keith Moon was cremated later that month at Golders Green Crematorium in London and his ashes scattered in its Gardens of Remembrance.

After death

Keith Moon's blue plaque, at London's 90 Wardour Street, W1 Soho (Marquee Club).
  • After his death, Moon was replaced by Small Faces/Faces drummer Kenney Jones as an official member of the band. Simon Phillips later toured with the band as an unofficial member. The Who also added keyboardist John "Rabbit" Bundrick to the live band. The Who's drum position is currently occupied by Zak Starkey, son of Ringo Starr. Starkey was taught drumming by Moon and referred to him as "Uncle Keith".
  • Daltrey recorded a song, "Under a Raging Moon", as a tribute to Moon and the "Middle Bar" in the London Astoria was named after him.
  • A biography was written about Moon by Tony Fletcher, entitled Dear Boy: The Life of Keith Moon in the United Kingdom. "Dear Boy" became a catchphrase of Moon's when he started affecting a pompous English accent around 1969, particularly when ordering drinks.[7] The book was released in the U.S. under the title, "Moon (The Life and Death of a Rock Legend)".
  • In early 2006, Moon's signature Pictures of Lily drum kit was reissued by Premier Percussion under the name Spirit of Lily.
  • Moon's ex-wife, Kim, was married to Ian McLagan of the Faces in 1978, the year that Moon died. She was killed in a road traffic accident near Austin, Texas on 2 August 2006.
  • Daltrey is producing a biopic about Moon called See Me Feel Me: Keith Moon Naked for Your Pleasure, which will be released in 2012. Comedian Mike Myers will play the main role and may have to take drumming lessons to suit the character.[41] However, according to Daltrey, this project may currently be stalled.[42]


Keith Moon is often cited by critics as one of the greatest and most eccentric drummers in rock music. Holly George-Warren, editor and author of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: The First 25 Years, argues: "With the death of Keith Moon in 1978, rock arguably lost its single greatest drummer."[43] According to Allmusic, "Moon, with his manic, lunatic side, and his life of excessive drinking, partying, and other indulgences, probably represented the youthful, zany side of rock & roll, as well as its self-destructive side, better than anyone else on the planet."[44] In the words of Pete Townshend, "The production of our [The Who's] records has got nothing to do with sound. It's got to do with trying to keep Keith Moon on his fucking drum stool."[45] Dave Marsh's The New Book of Rock Lists ranks Moon at No. 1 on its list of The 50 Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Drummers.[46] Similarly, he was ranked at No. 2 on Rolling Stone's "The Best Drummers of All Time" readers poll in 2011.[47]

Many notable rock drummers have been influenced by Keith Moon, including Dave Grohl, Neil Peart, Tommy Lee, and Peter Criss.

The character of 'Animal' from The Muppet Show is based on Keith Moon.

Drum kits

Premier's replica of the classic "Pictures of Lily" drumkit

The first kit Moon owned was a blue Premier kit bought on hire purchase (credit) and co-signed by his father, Alf. It was purchased at the suggestion of his friend and fellow drummer Gerry Evans. Throughout 1964 and 1965 he played typically four, then five-piece kits, but moved to a Premier double bass kit in June 1966. This new set widened his playing; he abandoned his hi-hat cymbals almost entirely and started basing his grooves on a double bass ostinato with eighth note flams, and a wall of white noise created by riding a crash or ride cymbal. On top of this he played fills and cymbal accents. This became his trademark.

Moon's Classic Red Sparkle Premier setup comprised two 14×22-inch bass drums, three 8×14 mounted toms, one 16×16 floor tom, a 5×14 Ludwig Supraphonic 400 snare and one extra floor tom of different sizes but mainly 16×18 or 16×16. Moon's classic cymbal setup consisted of two Paiste Giant Beat 18" crashes and one 20" ride. In 1973, Moon added a second row of tom-toms (first four, then six) and, in 1975, two more timbales. These huge kits became well known, notably the amber set in the films, Tommy and Stardust, and in footage shot by the BBC at Charlton in 1974. The 1975–1976 white kit with gold fittings, in which the gold was actually copper because of the weakness of gold, was given by Moon to a young Zak Starkey. His final kit, a dark metallic one, is seen in the footage from The Kids Are Alright at Shepperton in 1978.


Give me a mandolin and I'll play you rock 'n' roll.

NME – October 1971.[48]


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Further reading

  • Moon: The Life and Death of a Rock Legend by Tony Fletcher
  • Anyway Anyhow Anywhere (Revised Edition): The Complete Chronicle of The Who 1958–1978 by Andrew Neill and Mathew Kent
  • The Who: Maximum R&B by Richard Barnes and Pete Townshend, Plexus Publishing; 5th edition (27 September 2004)
  • Before I Get Old: The Story of The Who by Dave Marsh, Plexus Publishing (16 September 2003)

External links

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