Keith John Moon was born in North West London and grew up in Wembley. He was described as a hyperactive child (no shock there) he failed his 11 plus and one teacher described Moon as, “Retarded artistically. Idiotic in other respects” so there was only one thing for the young lad to do and that was to get behind a drum kit and exert some of that boundless energy and mischief and at least people knew where he was when he was sat behind a drum kit. It would also not come as a surprise to find out that Moon also had a tendency to show off.
He learned the basics of drumming from a shop on the Ealing road in West London.
After knocking about in local bands Moon joined The Who in 1964 just before they recorded their debut single it is also a fact that as the band got older Moons kit expanded like his wasteline and he is also recognized as one of the first to employ a double bass kit.
Its also fair to say that Moon was known for his off stage antics as much as his talents behind the kit as his love of the goons spilled over with his tomfoolery he is remembered for some of his wild man antics that often spilled over and quickly became the stuff of legend.
Moon had a reputation for smashing his kit on stage and pioneered the fine art of redecorating hotel rooms when on tour. He also had a fascination with blowing up toilets with home made cherry bombs or dynamite, and lobbing television sets from his Hotel Room via the nearest window. Its fair to say Moon enjoyed the trappings of success and tour life and became bored and restless when the Who were inactive. His 21st birthday party in Flint, Michigan, is the perfect example of decadence and the stuff of legend.
It wasn’t all fun and games for Moon as he suffered a number of blows during the 1970s, most notably the accidental death of chauffeur Neil Boland and the breakdown of his marriage. He became addicted to alcohol, always seen waving a bottle of brandy or quaffing champagne. After all not everybody had the nickname “Moon the Loon” (it was a well earned name by all accounts).
Moon recorded a solo album after moving to LA even if it was poorly received ‘Two Sides of the Moon’. By the mid ’70s he was known to pass out on stage and was also hospitalised due to his excessive behaviour. By their final tour with him in 1976, and particularly during production of ‘The Kids Are Alright’ and ‘Who Are You’, People began to notice the drummer’s deterioration physically and mentally. Moon moved back to London in the late ’70s, sadly he passed away in ’78 in September from an overdose of Heminevrin, a drug he was prescribed to treat or prevent symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
Its believed Moon had wanted to get sober, but he wanted to do it at home rather than be admitted into a Hospital. Clomethiazole is discouraged for unsupervised use because of its addictive potential, and its risk of death when mixed with alcohol. The pills were prescribed by Geoffrey Dymond, a physician who was unaware of Moon’s lifestyle. Dymond prescribed a bottle of 100 pills, instructing him to take one pill when he felt a craving for alcohol but not more than three pills per day. Clearly someone who knew of Moons lifestyle would never have prescribed the drug unless he was admitted to Hospital and supervised properly and not let him self prescribe.
In September of 1978 just before his passing Moon was having difficulty playing the drums and according to a roadie Dave “Cy” Langston. After seeing Moon in the studio trying to drum on ‘The Kids Are Alright’, he said, “After two or three hours, he got more and more sluggish, he could barely hold a drum stick.”
On 6 September, Moon and Walter-Lax were guests of Paul and Linda McCartney for The Buddy Holly Story. After returning home, Moon asked Walter-Lax to cook him steak and eggs. When she objected, Moon replied, “If you don’t like it, you can fuck off!” These were to be his his last words. Moon then took 32 tablets. When Walter-Lax checked on him the following afternoon, she discovered he was dead.
Moon’s passing came shortly after the release of ‘Who Are You’. On the album cover, he is straddling a chair to hide his weight gain; the words “Not to be taken away” are on the back of the chair. Not the way such an iconic drummer should have gone thats for sure. Such a waste of life and talent its no surprise that we’re still writing and talking about a drummer that gave so much to Rock and Roll and lived it like he loved it and paid the ultimate price. Rest In Peace Moon The Loon you legend!
For his most iconic act of Rock and Roll excess it has to be the rumour that he drove his Rolls Royce into his swimming pool but this was just one of many stories that have done the rounds over the years. Whilst it might be generally frowned upon and some of his most UN PC excesses you’d never be able to indulge in these days back in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s it was generally uncharted waters.
On Steve Marriott’s birthday he was given a record player from his Record Company as a gift that he proceeded to break after it made the record jump so incensed was the Birthday boy that he promptly threw it out of the window. Not to be outdone and taking his queue from his mate Moon proceeded to empty the contents of the entire room out of the window. After receiving a new player Moon entered Marriott’s room the following night only to unplug the player and sling it out the window like the previous one quickly followed by the rest of the contents of the room. Moons new favourite past time was a costly exercise in excess and one that has been repeated throughout the decades by many many bands the world over. Moon is believed to have been the instigator.
He was run over by a bus, Went on the razz with Oliver Reed and once filled his room with a bevvy of naked Swedish ladies. Sat on the Bonnet of his Rolls Royce naked whilst being driven through London looking for John Lennon. He drove a hovercraft dressed as Rommel that broke down on a railway track the mans tales are legendary and had he not died such a tragic death you wonder how long it would have been before one of his excess filled nights would have caught up with him. still my favourite is still the time he and his roadie packed the bass drum full of explosives and almost blew Townsend’s head off. Brilliant. They just don’t make them like Moon The Loon anymore, Do they?