Keith John Moon (23 August 1946- 7 September 1978) was a drummer with the 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.
The Who My Generation (infamous explosion)
At 17, Moon joined The Who, a replacement for 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 Townshend (and Moon delighted, 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 breakout 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). During one of his only 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.
Many rock drummers have cited Keith Moon as an influence, including Neil Peart, and Dave Grohl. The Jam paid tribute to Keith Moon on the second single from their second 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 Keith Moon’s face; The Jam’s record was released about a month after Moon’s death.
The Greatest Moments of Keith Moon
Despite being revered as a musician, Moon led a very destructive and irresponsible lifestyle. He laid waste to hotel rooms, the homes of friends and even his own home, throwing furniture out of high windows.
Along with his drum sets, Moon’s infamous (and favourite) calling card was to flush powerful explosives down the toilet, detonating and ultimately destroying scores of toilets around the world. It has been estimated that his destruction of toilets and plumbing ran as high as US$500,000, 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, as well as the Waldorf Astoria. 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.”
According to Tony Fletcher’s biography, Moon’s toilet pyrotechnics began in 1965, when he purchased 500 cherry bombs. In time, Moon would graduate from just Cherry bombs to taking out toilets with Roman candles and M-80s. Eventually, Moon began using dynamite, his explosive of choice, to destroy toilets. “All that porcelain flying through the air was quite unforgettable”, Moon recalled. “I never realized dynamite was so powerful. I’d been used to penny bangers before”. In a very short period of time, Moon developed a reputation of “leaving holes” in bathroom floors, completely annihilating the toilets, mesmerizing Moon and enhancing his reputation as a hellraiser. Fletcher goes on to state that “no toilet in a hotel or changing room was safe” until Moon had burned through his supply of explosives.
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.” 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.” 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…'”
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. In Moon’s biography, Full Moon, longtime friend and drum technician Dougal Butler, who tended Keith’s drum kit observed: “He would do anything if he knew that there were enough people around who didn’t want him to do it.”
So Sad About Us-The Jam(paying tribute to Keith Moon)