Freshtake Artist Recap: Keith Moon

Keith Moon is an iconic drummer performing with the legendary band The Who. The group members include vocalist Roger Daltrey, bassist John Entwistle, guitarist Peter Townshend, and Mr. Moon on the drums.  The band started in 1964 in North London and were originally the Detours before turning into the band we all know and love, The Who. Keith Moon joined the band when he was sitting in on a set and proclaimed he could drum better than the session drummer. The group needed to replace former drummer Doug Sandom. When Moon took over the set; the rest was history. The group members loved his enthusiam and passion on the drums that would give them an edge to become a huge act. During Moon’s dress rehearsal he demolished the drum set in the process. This would later be his trademark for The Who. It was very rare that Keith Moon would complete a show without destroying his drums, other instruments, and the stage

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Moon was born in 1946 in Wembley (North London). He was always fond of music and often times got in trouble in school for his wild antics. When he was in music class he faced additional disciplinary action for showing off. That translated when he played with The Who. Often times he would just freestyle his drum rolls and the other band members had to improvise against the written or recorded music. This was very frustrating for his bandmates, but inversely would mark the staple that would propel the group to hall of fame status. After all the shows audiences raved for the band members to destroy their equipment so Moon would destroy his drum kit and Townshend would smash his guitar sending the crowd into a ruckus after the awesome tunes! Behind the scenes Keith Moon was an alcoholic and popped amphetamines especially before each show in large quantities. Moon also developed a quirky habit of exploding cherry bombs, M-80s, then sticks of dynamite in toilets of hotel and changing rooms. Moon was very eccentric and off the wall describes his bandmates. “He was nearly impossible to control.” On his 21st birthday at a Holiday Inn in Flint, Michigan Moon took his antics to all new heights. He set off fire extinguishers, threw objects into the swimming pool, and shattered the hotels piano. The Who’s manager typically had to pay fines of roughly 10,000 dollars to cover the groups damages.

Keith Moon is the pure epitome of a British badass and one of the first “bad boys” of rock n’ roll. He was a huge fan of the Beach Boys and was very close with the members of the Beatles, Ringo Starr in particular. years later Ringo recalls Keith stating “I’ve just been filling in for the last fifteen years with The Who.” Their was a specific incident where group was in the limo heading to a show and Moon was adamant that he lift something at the hotel he had to retrieve. When he got back to the hotel he set off an explosive in the toilet and threw the television out of the 14th story window of the hotel. When he returned the bandmates were just astonished at his buffoonery. Another wild occurrence in Moon’s life where him and bodyguard/driver/friend Neil Boland where being heckled outside of a pub in Heckfordshire and a drunken Moon trying to escape struct Boland ending his friend’s life. All charges were dropped but after the accident Moon’s self destructive behavior got worst. Moon started using alcohol (Brandy in particular) and tranquilizers more frequently.

This led to Keith being depressed and he started gaining a ton of weight. It also became a chore for him to make it through performances. He passed out a couple of times during performances. In one instance the band had to fill in for him with a fan from the audience. At this point The Who were growing tired of his wild behavior, but they didn’t want to kick him out because they feared his condition would worsen. On top of that with Moon’s reckless way of living he acquired more debt than income. When you compile all the hotel damages, equipment damages, gadgets, gizmos, and cars he only profited roughly 47 pounds. In 1978 he was prescribed  Heminevrin to deal with alcohol withdrawls. Moon fought hard to stay sober but loss that battle when on September 7, 1978 he overdosed on 32 pills of Heminevrin and mixed it with alcohol leading to his death. Those that remember him best recall his light-hearted demeanor. Everyone that knew him well referred to him as “Moon The Loon.” Keith Moon is known as one of the best drummers to ever play. The famous analogy is Keith Moon is to drums as Jimi Hendrix is to guitars. The memory of Keith Moon will forever live on as he helped to make The Who icons. -BoSo

 

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