Only once in a lifetime does the likes of Keith Moon come along, and then before you know it he is gone. Dying as a result of a drug overdose (accidental), no one can know just how much better Moon could have become if he had lived to continue with his music career. As has been the case with many musicians and other public figures, talent was lost before it truly realized its full potential.
London-born Moon (1946) was the son of working class people, and developed a keen interest in music from an early age. Though his school work was less than stellar, Moon showed an aptitude for music, learning first to play the bugle and then the trumpet. His mother encouraged his musical abilities and presented Moon with a drum kit when he was 14, which he took to as if he was born to drum.
Before joining The Who Moon played in two bands, the first being the Escorts followed by the Beachcombers. Teaming up with Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend and John Entwistle, Moon was an integral part of one of the greatest rock bands of all time, The Who. He was only 17 when he joined forces with the other three young men and started what was to become an amazingly successful career.
Give me a mandolin and I’ll play you rock ‘n’ roll.
One of the elements of a The Who concert that entertained and delighted their audiences is that wild antics the band members engaged in, often resulting in instruments being destroyed. Though Moon’s talent as a drummer was never in question, his ability to sing was meager at best. His band mates thought his singing so bad that they banned Moon from singing on any of the group’s albums, which only spurred Moon on to sneaking his voice into the mix whenever he thought he could get away with it.
Moon had a creative streak that was encouraged and celebrated by his audiences and fellow band members, and not wanting to be restricted by a typical drum kit set up Moon assembled his own from several kits, creating a drum system that was huge.
Moon had a propensity for partying as hard as he played on stage, often drinking copious amounts of alcohol. A lover of antics Moon would often steal the show, proving that drums were not just an integral part of a rock band but could be the leading instrument at times. His larger than life personality showed both on stage and off. There is a claim that in a moment of craziness Moon drove a car into a swimming pool (unsubstantiated).
Moon was unmarried at the time of his death. His girlfriend at the time was Annette Walter-Lax, whom he lived with. His death at the very young age of 32 (1978) came as a shock to the music world, his loss to both The Who and to the bands fans felt around the world. It is reported that Moon was trying to kick an excessive alcohol consumption habit and was taking the drug Clomethiazole to try and wean himself off when he accidentally took an overdose. Though the man, the drummer, and the entertainer died that night his legend lives on today, with his drumming style influencing many musicians who followed in his footsteps.