In Remembrance of Keith John Moon

23 August, 1946 ~ 7 September, 1978
Wembley, United Kingdom

Keith John Moon (23 August 1946– 7 September 1978) was an English drummer of the rock group The Who. He gained acclaim for his exuberant and innovative drumming style and noto... Read more >
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Keith John Moon (23 August 1946– 7 September 1978) was an English drummer of the rock group The Who. He gained acclaim for his exuberant and innovative drumming style and notoriety for his self destructive behavior, earning him the nickname "Moon the Loon." Moon joined The Who in 1964. He played on all albums and singles from their debut, 1965's "I Can't Explain", 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 widely considered to be one of the greatest rock and roll drummers of all time.
Early Life
Keith John Moon lived in Wembley, London as a boy. He was hyperactive and had a restless imagination. As a youth, the one thing that could hold his attention was music. A report from his secondary modern school was not encouraging – his art teacher commented: 'Retarded artistically. Idiotic in other respects.' 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 Macario's music studio in Ealing Road and would take instruction and practice on the drums there, where he learned his basic drumming skills. Moon failed his eleven plus exam and 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 Moon in 1973 and moved in with Faces keyboard player Ian McLagan. In 1974 Moon began dating Swedish model Annette Walter-Lax, and a year later Moon and Kerrigan divorced. Kim and McLagan married in October 1978, one month after Keith's death.

Early musical career
At age 12, Moon joined his local Sea Cadet Corps band as a bugle player but traded his position to be a drummer. Moon started drums at 14 after his father bought him a kit. He received lessons from one of the loudest drummers at the time, Carlo Little, paying him 10 shillings a lesson. During this time he joined his first serious band "The Escorts".[3] He later spent 18 months as the drummer for "The Beachcombers", a London cover band notable for renditions of songs by Cliff Richard.
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 greats Gene Krupa, who inspired him to be the showman he was, and Sonny Rollins.
The Who
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.
His propensity for making his bandmates laugh around the vocal microphone whilst recording, led the rest to banish him from the studio when vocals were 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" and "Guitar And Pen".
He 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), "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."
Some notable displays of Moon’s style of elaborate drum fills include "Underture", the drum introduction following the bridge in "Won’t Get Fooled Again", and the drum introductions to the songs "Pure and Easy", "I’ve Had Enough" and "Bell Boy".
Many rock drummers have cited Keith Moon as an influence, including Neil Peart,[7] and Dave Grohl.[8] 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.
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.
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 several dozen cherry bombs. Eventually, Moon would graduate from just Cherry bombs to taking out toilets with Roman candles and M-80s. In extreme cases, Moon even used 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 fueled 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."
[edit] Personal relationships
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, and girlfriend Annette. Moon also psychologically terrorized his only child, daughter Mandy. He hadn't been prepared to be a father, and this translated to an uneasy relationship with her as a very young girl, as he wasn't 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/Rolling Stones' keyboardist Ian "Mac" McLagan who became Kim's boyfriend after the marital breakup. It wasn't 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. 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. Joe Walsh has 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 wasn't even certain he ever knew the real Keith Moon, or if there was one. When Townshend wrote the Who's rock opera Quadrophenia, the song he wrote to give insight into Moon's personality, was the song, "Dr. Jimmy and Mr. Jim", describing a violent personality bubbling underneath, concluding with, "he only comes out when I drink my gin"
Aside from his romantic relationships, although his behavior was outrageous, it was in the humorous veinas his friend Vivian Stanshall, of the Bonzo Dog Band claimed. Moon produced Stanshall's version of Terry Stafford's Suspicion.
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 TV 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, Moon, drunk at his 21st birthday party (Moon had claimed to be a year younger than he actually was; he was believed to be 20 at the time and was proclaiming this to be his 21st so that he could drink in every state; it actually was his 21st birthday) in Flint, Michigan, allegedly drove a Cadillac (according to Moon's own account, it was a Lincoln Continental) into the Holiday Inn pool, and blew the toilet in his room to pieces, leaping out of the bathroom at the last possible moment to avoid porcelain toilet shards. While Moon had established a notorious history of blowing up toilets at other Holiday Inns, the car incident led to them being banned from Flint and The Holiday Inn for life. The Who had just opened for Herman's Hermits. Author Peter C. Cavanaugh, who was there and witnessed the event firsthand, recalled the events for a documentary on the '60's rock scene. According to the book, The Who In Their Own Words, Moon said the incident was at the Holiday Inn in Flint, Michigan. He said this was how he broke his front tooth. Other people who attended the event, including Who bandmate John 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." (p.p. 210) It was after Moon went to the dentist and the party was disbanded that the 30-40 guests filed out, a few taking fire extinguishers to cars and dirtying the swimming pool.
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. However, Keith never recovered from feelings of guilt. Pamela Des Barres, a groupie with whom Moon 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.
Moon's penchant for the wild life was not only outwardly detrimental; it began to take a toll on his health while 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 Daly City, California, Moon took a large mixture of tranquilizers 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. Guitarist Pete Townshend later said in an interview that Moon had consumed large tranquilizer pills, meant to be shot at animals, with the brandy.[26] During the band's recording sabbatical between 1975 and 1978, Moon put on a great deal of weight. Nonetheless, John Entwistle maintained that Keith 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."
Moon owned a lilac-coloured Rolls-Royce, painted with house paint. On Top Gear,[28] 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). In 2005 Jeremy Clarkson recreated for Top Gear the stunt where Moon allegedly drove his Cadillac into a swimming pool. Clarkson drove a Rolls Royce into the Chipping Norton Lido, a public outdoor heated swimming pool.
Work outside The Who
It was Keith Moon who recommended the name Led Zeppelin to Jimmy Page who intended to name his new band 'Mad Dog'. 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 Jimmy 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 & Ono's Some Time In New York City LP.
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).
In 1974 Track Records/MCA released a solo single: "Don't Worry, Baby" b/w "Teenage Idol", the former a reflection of his love of The Beach Boys.
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 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. In 1976, he covered the Beatles' "When I'm Sixty-Four" for the soundtrack of the documentary All This and World War II. He impersonated a camp fashion designer in Sextette (1978), starring Mae West.
Moon once owned a hotel, the Crown and Cushion in Chipping Norton.

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, Mayfair in which Cass Elliot had died a little under four years earlier. Moon then took 32 tablets of Clomethiazole (Heminevrin). The medication was a sedative he had been prescribed to alleviate his alcohol withdrawal symptoms as he tried to go dry 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. 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. Moon was found by Annette in bed with one hand on the floor[clarification needed] and one leg as well. Moon may have known he was dying and tried to get help himself.
Moon died a couple of weeks after the release of Who Are You. On the album cover, Moon 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 chair is labeled "NOT TO BE TAKEN AWAY."
In a mid 90's interview, shown daily in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in Cleveland, Ohio, with guitarist and close friend Pete Townshend he said "When fans talk to me about Keith I don't think they realise that I hated him, I mean I loved him, but I absolutely hated him for killing himself and throwing his life away."
Moon was cremated. His ashes were scattered in the Gardens of Remembrance at Golders Green Crematorium in London 1978.
The information within this memorial is kindly taken from Wikipedia under the creative commons licece.

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