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?

What’s that musty smell? Ah yes, it’s emanating from the veritable feast of vintage collectables housed in the Pop Culture Schlock archive. For your delectation today I take you back to the Christmas of 1979; a seminal decade of music about to come to an end and give way to the dawn of a more brash, more brazen ten year period…


If you were a good, music-loving boy or girl in 1979 and had a.) done well in school, and; b.) not scratched your big brother’s vinyl, then there was a good chance that you’d find the Rock On! Annual 1980 nestled under the Christmas tree in your modest living room.


“The Rock What Annual?” I hear you exclaim, and you shouldn’t be embarrassed at your lack of knowledge on this subject because, truth be told, Rock On! magazine was a short-lived, oft-forgotten publication… if you’d ever heard of it at all.


Rock On! magazine debuted with an issue cover-dated May 1978. Debbie Harry featured on its cover and the mag – costing a whole 25p – promised a healthy mix of punk, new wave, heavy metal, and prog rock. It kept its promise too as, over the course of seven eclectic issues, Rock On! dished out features and photo spreads on a dizzying cadre of top musical combos; from Status Quo to Sham 69, The Clash to KISS, Rush to The Rezillos. Meat Loaf graced a cover, Ozzy, too, until Issue 7, with Jimmy Pursey as its cover star, and cover-dated November 1978, when Rock On! disappeared from newsagent shelves. The editorial in that final issue wrote of the outrage of cutting off such a desirable publication in its prime but, if anything, Rock On! was a victim of its own blurring of genre lines: readers seemingly wanting specialist publications dedicated to singular strands of the rock ‘n’ roll world rather than this ambitious crossover style.


That final editorial, though, did offer some hope for the future; stating that it was the last Rock On! “in its present form”. Fast forward to around a year later and, in the Autumn of 1979, the true final piece of the Rock On! jigsaw arrived in shops and catalogues to complete the punk ‘n’ prog rocking picture.

With a scorching hot live photo of Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott on the cover, Rock On! Annual 1980 (price – £2.00) may well have been jostling for attention on the shelves alongside big-hitting television and film spin-off annuals, but it certainly looked the most badass. It was, the cover screamed, packed with pictures, facts, and quizzes on your favourite rock bands. It did not disappoint.


The heady mix of photo spreads and more in-depth features on select bands really did make Rock On! stand out from its competitors, and this annual amps that angle right up to eleven. The first photo spread was a “Tribute to Vocal Power!!!” (yes, with three exclamation marks) and featured cool live action shots of Joe Strummer, Johnny Rotten, Cherie Currie, Pete Townsend, Willy DeVille, Graham Parker, Joan Jett, and Mick Jagger. A good start, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Next up, a photo diary detailing a “hard band” going “soft” as The Stranglers met their devoted fans, followed by a quartet of stinging live shots of “the band the critics love to hate”, Status Quo. Rock On!’s attitude to those Quo critics could be “summed up in two fingers” readers were informed.


With barely a pause for breath, a six-page A-Z of Heavy Metal feature detailed the prime acts in the genre, from AC/DC to, erm, Wishbone Ash. A-W, then. A few curious names in this run-down, too: Prism, Quartz, and Mahogany Rush rubbing shoulders with the expected likes of Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and, a firm favourite on the turntable at RPM HQ, Uriah Heep. A “Heads Down Heavy Metal Quiz” followed: a select question being “On Your Feet Or On Your Knees was a double live album for which heavy metal superstars?”


A Ten Years of Genesis feature followed, the first in a series of in-depth essays by John Tobler. His similar two-page spread on the history of Queen followed, as did those dedicated to Thin Lizzy, Blue Öyster Cult, Rush, and KISS. The latter, subtitled “Kings of Shock Rock”, wrote of “the forty foot columns of fire that emit from Gene Simmons’ mouth” and, c’mon, if you were eight years old at Xmas 1979 you had every excuse for then falling head over platform heels in love with the idea of the hottest band in the world.

There was a Rock On! reggae report, a fashion guide of sorts where the Quo’s Rick Parfitt spoke of his love of jeans and Hugh Cornwell of The Stranglers of his love of raincoats (!), a Hi-Fi buying guide, a feature on sound engineers, a top DJ article covering John Peel and Anne Nightingale, plus one-page specials on Peter Gabriel and Ken Hensley of the Heep.


A photo spread of Ian Dury swimming (just your seven shots) padded out the pages, but not before an impressive photo set of live Black Sabbath shots appeared, a Star Cars article featuring Steve Jones, Meat Loaf, Midge Ure, and, ominously, Cozy Powell, a “Cult Heroes” feature detailing the likes of Iggy Pop, Nils Lofgren, Todd Rundgren, Tom Petty, and Bruce Spingsteen, and a “Sex ‘n’ Girls ‘n’ Rock ‘n’ Roll” spread featuring Debbie Harry, Joan Jett, Siouxsie Sioux, Linda Ronstadt, Annie Golden, Poly Styrene, Stevie Nicks, and Rachel Sweet.


A “That Was The Year That Was” feature dedicated to 1978 was an obvious leftover from the previous year’s magazine and makes for entertaining if a little sombre reading amongst the other genuinely funny articles. Rock On! was a cool magazine, with its tongue firmly in its cheek and its love of a broad range of music at the forefront of any thinking. Your Uber Rocks, your RPMs are all subconscious descendants of Rock On! magazine.

No annual is complete, however, without a pull-out poster section (even if no kid ever dared pull a poster out of an annual!), and Rock On! Annual 1980 does not disappoint in that department. There are pin-ups of the aforementioned Pursey, Rezillos, Dury, Harry, Clash, and Lynott, plus Bob Geldof, Paul Weller, Freddie Mercury, David Lee Roth, Jon Anderson, Elvis Costello, Paul Stanley, and the Buzzcocks. Great photos too.


The Rock On! Annual 1980 may well be an uncommon piece in the average music memorabilia collection, but it is certainly a worthy one. Copies turn up on the secondary market relatively cheaply and, yeah, you should pick one up if you get the chance. The Rock On! staff were most certainly music journalist mavericks, and we’ve all tried to go there, right? Search for this precious, rockin’ tome… or you might never know how Rick Parfitt’s aunt ironed his double denim.


Thanks for reading, and for the feedback on my first column on the debut Alice Cooper comic. I’ll be back next month with something suitably archaic that the rock ‘n’ roll world tried to forget. Search for Pop Culture Schlock 365 on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook