Keith Moon in 1975
|Birth name||Keith John Moon|
23 August 1946|
Wembley, Middlesex, England
|Died||7 September 1978
|Genres||Rock, art rock, hard rock, power pop|
|Occupations||Musician, songwriter, producer, actor|
|Instruments||Drums, percussion, vocals, bugle, trumpet, tuba|
|Associated acts||The Who, Plastic Ono Band, Jeff Beck Group|
Keith John Moon (23 August 1946 – 7 September 1978) was an English musician, best known for being the drummer of the English rock group The Who. He was well known for his unique drumming style, and gained notoriety for his eccentric and often self-destructive behaviour. In 2011, Moon was voted the second greatest drummer in history in Rolling Stone's '"The Best Drummers of All Time'" readers' poll. His drumming skills continue to attract praise from critics and musicians alike, 35 years after his death.
Moon grew up in Wembley, London and took up drumming in the early 1960s. After performing with local band The Beachcombers, he joined The Who in 1964, before they had recorded their first single. He stayed with the band during their rise to fame, and was quickly recognised and praised for his distinctive drumming style. While he would occasionally collaborate with other musicians, he considered The Who his main band first and foremost, and remained a member until his death. In addition to his ability as a drummer, he developed a reputation for smashing drumkits on stage, and for destroying hotel rooms while on tour, with a particular flair for blowing up toilets using cherry bombs or dynamite, and destroying television sets. He enjoyed touring and socialising, and attempted to live his entire life as one long party, being especially restless during the occasions that The Who were inactive. His 21st birthday party in Flint, Michigan has become a notable example of decadent behaviour amongst rock groups.
Moon's life became darker during the 1970s, particularly after the accidental death of his chauffeur, Neil Boland, and the breakdown of his marriage. He became increasingly addicted to drink, and his reputation started to precede him, giving him the nickname "Moon The Loon". He moved to Los Angeles for several years during the mid-1970s, during which time he attempted to make his only solo album, the poorly received Two Sides of the Moon. By the time of The Who's final tours in 1976, and particularly during filming of The Kids Are Alright and recording of Who Are You, the gradual deterioration of his condition started to show, he blacked out on stage, and he was hospitalised on several occasions.
Moon died in September 1978 after overdosing on Heminevrin, a drug designed to help him curb his chronic alcohol abuse. His life was given a comprehensive overview by Tony Fletcher's book Dear Boy – The Life of Keith Moon, which drew favourable reviews.
Early life 
Moon was born on 23 August 1946 in Central Middlesex Hospital to Alfred Charles "Alf" and Kathleen Winifred "Kit" Moon and grew up in Wembley, Middlesex. As a boy he was hyperactive and had a restless imagination, with a particular fondness for The Goons, but the one thing that could hold his attention was music. Moon failed his eleven plus exam, and thus went to Alperton Secondary Modern School, where in a report 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".
At age twelve, Moon joined his local Sea Cadet Corps band as a bugle player but traded his position to be a drummer. He also took an interest in practical jokes and home science kits, with a particular enthusiasm for explosions. Often on his way home from school Keith would go to Macari's Music Studio in Ealing Road and would take instruction and practice on the drums there, where he learned his basic drumming skills. He left school in Easter 1961, and enrolled at Harrow Technical College, which led to a job repairing radios. This enabled him to buy his first drum kit.
Early musical career 
Moon took lessons from one of the loudest drummers at the time, Carlo Little, then playing with Screaming Lord Sutch, paying Little ten shillings a lesson. He 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, exemplified by the noted Los Angeles studio drummer Hal Blaine. But Moon played faster and louder, with more persistence and authority. Moon's favourite musicians were jazz artists, particularly the flamboyant style of Gene Krupa. He also admired DJ Fontana, Ringo Starr, and The Shadows' original drummer, Tony Meehan. As well as drumming, Moon was interested in singing, particularly with backing vocals that involved a light-sounding falsetto and the vocal styling of Motown soul music. One band Moon notably idolised was the Beach Boys. It was later said that even at the peak of The Who's fame, Moon would have left the group to drum for the Californian band.
During this time, Moon joined his first serious band, The Escorts, replacing his then best friend, Gerry Evans In December 1962, he joined The Beachcombers, a semi-professional London cover band who played rock'n'roll and hits by groups such as The Shadows. During his time in the group, Moon incorporated various theatrical tricks into his act, including one instance where he "shot" the group's lead singer with a starter pistol. The Beachcombers all had day jobs, including Moon, who was working in the sales department of British Gypsum. He had the most interest amongst band members to turn fully professional, and thus in April 1964, he auditioned for The Who, replacing Doug Sandom. The Beachcombers continued as a local covers band after his departure.
The Who 
A commonly heard, though disputed, story of how Moon joined The Who is that he turned up to a gig shortly after Sandom's departure, where a session drummer was used. Dressed entirely in ginger clothes and with his hair dyed ginger (Townshend later described him as a "Ginger Vision"):52:40, he claimed to his would-be bandmates that he could play better, and proceeded to play in the second half of the band's set, nearly demolishing the kit in the process. Moon claimed he was never given a formal invitation to join the band, and later jested to Ringo Starr, when asked how he joined the band, that he had "just been filling in for the last fifteen years.":52:29
Moon's arrival in The Who changed the dynamics of the group. Sandom had generally been the member to keep peace as Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend feuded between themselves, but because of Moon's temperament, this no longer occurred, so the group now had four members who would frequently be at conflict. "We used to fight regularly", remembered Moon in later years. "John [Entwistle] and I used to have fights – it wasn't very serious, it was more of an emotional spur-of-the moment thing". Although Townshend described him as a "completely different person to anyone I've ever met,":38:48 Moon did form a rapport with him in the early years, with the pair of them enjoying practical jokes and comedy improvisations together. His style of playing affected the musical structure, and while Entwistle initially found his lack of traditional time-keeping to be problematic, it created an original sound. Daltrey later said Moon's drumming style was an essential ingredient that held the band together, and that Entwistle and Townshend "were like knitting needles ... and Keith was the ball of wool."
Moon was particularly fond of touring with The Who, since it was the only chance he regularly got to socialise with his bandmates, and was generally restless and bored when he was not playing with the band. This would carry over to other aspects of his life later on, as he acted them out, according to biographer Marsh, "as if his life were one long tour". Antics like these earned him the nicknames "Moon the Loon" and "Mad Moon".
Musical contributions 
Moon's style of drumming was considered unique by his bandmates, though they sometimes considered his lack of conventional playing to be frustrating, with Entwistle noting that he tended to play at a faster or slower tempo depending on what mood he was in. "He wouldn't play across his kit," he later added. "He'd play zig-zag. That's why he had two set of tom-toms. He'd move his arms forward like a skier." Daltrey said that Moon "just instinctively put drum rolls in places that other people would never have thought of putting them," and that his instinct to play drum fills that matched the vocal lines exactly was "sheer genius."
Contemporary critics questioned his ability to keep time, with biographer Tony Fletcher suggesting that the timing on Tommy was "all over the place". Who producer Jon Astley said "you didn't think he was keeping time, but he was". Early recordings of Moon on the kit tended to make the drums sound tinny and somewhat disorganised, and it was not until the recording of Who's Next, with Glyn Johns' no-nonsense production techniques and the requirement to keep to a strict-tempo synthesizer track, that he started developing a more disciplined performance in the studio. Biographer Fletcher considers the drumming on this album to be the best of Moon's career.
Unlike several contemporary rock drummers such as Ginger Baker and John Bonham, Moon hated drum solos and refused to play them in concert. At one Who show, Townshend and Entwistle decided to spontaneously stop playing to hear Moon play a drum solo. Moon immediately stopped too, exclaiming, "Drum solos are boring!"
Although not a strong vocalist, Moon was enthusiastic about singing and wanted to sing lead with the rest of the group. While the other three members handled the vast majority of the vocals on stage, Moon would semi-regularly attempt to sing backing, particularly on I Can't Explain. He also liked to provide humorous commentary during song announcements, though sound engineer Bob Pridden preferred to mute his vocal microphone on the mixing desk where possible. His propensity for making his bandmates laugh around the vocal microphone whilst recording led them to banish him from the studio when vocals were being recorded. This led to a game, Moon sneaking in to join the singing. Moon's interest in surf music and his desire to sing lead led to him doing so on several early tracks, including "Bucket T" and "Barbara Ann" (Ready Steady Who EP, 1966), and the high backing vocals on other songs, such as "Pictures of Lily". At the end of the song "Happy Jack", Townshend can be heard saying "I saw ya!" to Moon as he tries to sneak into the studio. Moon's performance on "Bell Boy" (Quadrophenia, 1973) saw him abandon "serious" vocal performances to perform in character with an exaggerated character performance, which gave him, in Fletcher's words, "full licence to live up to his reputation as a lecherous drunk," adding it was "exactly the kind of performance the Who needed from him to bring them back down to earth."
Moon was credited as composer of "I Need You", which he also sang, and the instrumental "Cobwebs and Strange" (from the album 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), "Tommy's Holiday Camp" (1969), "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). Moon also co-composed the instrumental "The Ox" (from the debut album My Generation) with Townshend, Entwistle and keyboardist Nicky Hopkins.
The Who song "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 the song in live concerts and in the film version of Tommy.
Moon is credited with producing the violin solo on the song "Baba O'Riley". He sat in with a gig with East of Eden at the Lyceum, playing congas, and afterwards suggested the idea of performing on the track to the group's violinist, Dave Arbus.
Throughout 1964 and 1965, Moon played typically four, then five-piece kits, but moved to a Premier double bass kit in June 1966. This set was notable for not having a hi-hat cymbal as Moon exclusively used the crash and ride cymbals instead. Moon remained a loyal customer to Premier, and continued to use their drums for the remainder of his career.
Moon's Classic Red Sparkle Premier setup comprised two 14×22-inch bass drums, three 8×14 mounted toms, one 16×16 floor tom, a 5×14 Ludwig Supraphonic 400 snare and one extra floor tom of different sizes but mainly 16×18 or 16×16. Moon's classic cymbal setup consisted of two Paiste Giant Beat 18" crashes and one 20" ride. In 1973, Moon added a second row of tom-toms (first four, then six) and, in 1975, two more timbales. The 1975–1976 white kit with gold fittings, in which the gold was actually copper because of the weakness of gold, was given by Moon to a young Zak Starkey. His final kit, a dark metallic one, is seen in the footage from The Kids Are Alright at Shepperton in 1978.
Destroying instruments and other stunts 
During an early gig in the Railway Tavern, after Townshend had accidentally broken his guitar and had proceeded to smash it, the audience were keen for him to repeat the event. Moon responded by kicking his drum kit over. Subsequent early live sets culminated in what they later described as "auto-destructive art", with the band, particularly Moon and Townshend, destroying their equipment in elaborate fashion. Following the Railway Tavern performance, Moon showed a zeal for auto destructive art, zestfully kicking and smashing his drums, claiming he did so because he was fed up of a lack of reaction from audiences. Reflecting on this, Townshend later said "A set of skins is about $300 and after every show he'd just go bang, bang, bang and then kick the whole thing over."
In May 1966, Moon discovered that Bruce Johnston from The Beach Boys, who was visiting London, had an early copy of Pet Sounds with him. He quickly found John Lennon and Paul McCartney at a club, and easily convinced them to go to the Waldorf Hotel where Johnston was staying, where they all listened to the album. A few days later, Moon took Johnston to the set of Ready Steady Go!, which caused him and Entwistle to be late for a gig with The Who that evening. During the finale of My Generation, a physical altercation broke out on stage between Moon and Townshend, which was reported on the front page of the New Musical Express the following week. Moon and Entwistle subsequently left The Who for a week, with Moon looking to join The Animals or The Nashville Teens, but changed their minds and returned.
On the Who's early US package tour at the RKO Theatre in New York during March and April 1967, he performed five shows a day, kicking over his drumkit after every show. Later that year, during their appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour US television show, Moon bribed a stagehand to load gunpowder into one of his bass drums, putting in around ten times the standard dose. During the finale of "My Generation", he kicked the drum off the riser and then set off the charge. The intensity of the explosion singed Townshend's hair and embedded a piece of cymbal in Moon's arm. This clip subsequently became the opening scene in The Kids Are Alright film.
Work outside The Who 
While Moon generally stated he was only interested in working with The Who,  he did participate in outside musical projects. In 1966, Moon worked 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", which was released as the B side to Hi Ho Silver Lining and appeared on the album Truth. Moon also played timpani on another track, a cover of Jerome Kern's, "Ol' Man River." Moon was credited on the back of the album as "You Know Who".
Moon may have inspired the name for the band "Led Zeppelin". When he was briefly considering leaving The Who in 1966, he had been chatting to Entwistle and Page about forming a supergroup. Moon or Entwistle remarked that a particular suggestion had gone down like a "lead zeppelin" (i.e. "lead balloon"). Although the supergroup was never formed, Page remembered Moon's odd expression and later adopted it as the name of a new band.
Moon's friendship with the Beatles led him to occasional collaborations with them. In 1967, Moon contributed brush drums to the Beatles' single "All You Need Is Love". On 15 December 1969, he joined John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band for a live performance at the Lyceum Ballroom (now the Lyceum Theatre) in London for a UNICEF charity concert. In 1972, this performance was released as a companion disc to Lennon's and Ono's Some Time In New York City LP.
Moon became involved in solo work when he moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1970s. In 1974, Track Records/MCA released a Moon solo single that covered The Beach Boys songs "Don't Worry, Baby" and "Teenage Idol". The following year, 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. The album had a negative reception from critics. NME's Roy Carr wrote, "Moonie, if you didn't have talent, I wouldn't care; but you have, which is why I'm not about to accept Two Sides of the Moon. Dave Marsh, writing in Rolling Stone, wrote "There isn't any legitimate reason for this album's existence." Around this time, during one of his few drum solo performances on television, for ABC's Wide World, Moon played a five minute drum solo using transparent acrylic drums filled with water and goldfish, and dressed as a cat. When asked by an audience member what would happen to the kit, he joked that "even the best drummers get hungry." His performance did not go down well with animal lovers, and several called the station to complain.
In the 2007 film documentary Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who, Daltrey and Townshend stated that Moon had a talent for dressing up as a variety of various characters and embodying them. They recount how Moon often dreamed of getting out of music to be a Hollywood film actor, though Daltrey also added that he didn't consider Moon to have the necessary patience and work ethic for a professional. Who manager Bill Curbishley agreed, believing that Moon "wasn't disciplined enough to actually turn up or commit to doing the stuff."
Despite these concerns, Moon landed himself several acting roles. The first of these came in 1971, when he had a cameo role in Frank Zappa's film 200 Motels as a nun fearful of dying from a drug overdose. Though the film only took 13 days to film, fellow cast member Howard Kaylan recalls Moon spending a substantial amount of off-camera time at the Kensington Garden Hotel bar, rather than sleeping. His next film role came in 1973, when Moon was featured in the film That'll Be the Day, playing the character J.D. Clover, the drummer at a holiday camp during the early days of British rock 'n' roll in a fictional band called Stray Cats. Moon reprised the Clover role for the sequel Stardust the following year. He also appeared as the character "Uncle Ernie" in Ken Russell's 1975 film adaptation of Tommy.
Destructive behaviour 
Moon led a very destructive lifestyle. From the first days of The Who, he began taking amphetamines, and in an early interview for the New Musical Express listed his favourite food as "French Blues." He spent his share of the band's income madly, began visiting Soho clubs such as the Speakeasy and the Bag o' Nails regularly, and the combination of pills and alcohol would continue to escalate into alcoholism and drug addiction later in life.. "[We] went through the same stages everybody goes through – the bloody drug corridor," he later reflected, adding "Drinking suited the group a lot better".
He laid waste to hotel rooms, the homes of friends and even his own home, throwing furniture out of high windows and setting fire to buildings. It has been estimated that his destruction of hotel toilets and plumbing ran as high as UK£300,000 (US$500,000). These destructive acts, often fuelled by drugs and alcohol, were Moon's way of expressing his eccentricity; he enjoyed shocking the public with them. Longtime friend and personal assistant Dougal Butler, observed: "He was trying to make people laugh and be Mr Funny, he wanted people to love him and enjoy him, but he would go so far. Like a train ride you couldn't stop."
According to Townshend, Moon cultivated his reputation for erratic behaviour. Once, while riding in a limo 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 reached the hotel, Moon ran back to his room, grabbed the television, and threw it out the window into the swimming pool below. Moon then left the hotel and jumped back into the limo, sighing "I nearly forgot".
Exploding toilets 
Moon's favourite stunt was to flush powerful explosives down toilets. In later years, musician 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 Fletcher, Moon's toilet pyrotechnics began in 1965 when he purchased 500 cherry bombs. Over time, Moon graduated from cherry bombs to M-80 fireworks to sticks of dynamite, which became his explosive of choice. "All that porcelain flying through the air was quite unforgettable," Moon recalled. "I never realised dynamite was so powerful. I'd been used to penny bangers before." Moon quickly developed a reputation of "leaving holes" in bathroom floors and completely annihilating the toilets. The destruction mesmerized Moon and enhanced his public image as rock and roll's premier hellraiser. Fletcher goes on to state that, "no toilet in a hotel or changing room was safe," until Moon had exhausted his supply of explosives. Moon often cajoled bandmember 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."
On one occasion, a hotel manager called Moon in his room and asked him to lower the volume on his cassette music player; the manager said The Who were making "too much noise." In response, Moon asked the manager up to his room. When the manager arrived, Moon excused himself to the bathroom, lit a stick of dynamite in the toilet, and shut the bathroom door. Upon returning to the room, he asked the manager to stay for just a moment longer, as he wanted to explain something. 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 another occasion in Alabama, Moon and Entwistle loaded a toilet with cherry bombs after being told that 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 ...'"
In one case, The Who were due to perform at The Valley (the London home of Charlton Athletic F.C.). The band members were waiting in the dressing room for Moon to arrive. A witness described the drummer's sudden entry to the building: "Suddenly, there was a great crash and Keith Moon dropped through the ceiling, having smashed his way through the corrugated iron roof." Moon even crashed a milk float vehicle that he had purchased on his own property.
Flint Holiday Inn incident 
On 23 August 1967, Moon set new levels of infamy at a hotel in Flint, Michigan, while on tour as the opening act with Herman's Hermits. This was Moon's 21st birthday, although at the time he only claimed to pretend it was, so he could drink alcohol legally in the US; he was really just 20. Entwistle later said, "He decided that if it was a publicised fact that it was his 21st birthday, he would be able to drink."
The day started with Moon immediately starting drinking upon arriving in Flint. The Who spent that afternoon with Nancy Lewis, then the band's publicist, who took the group to various local radio stations so they could publicise the evening gig. Moon later posed for a photo outside the Holiday Inn, where the management had put "Happy Birthday Keith" on the sign outside – an action they would quickly regret. According to Lewis, Moon was verly drunk by the time the band took to the stage at the Atwood High School football stadium.
Upon returning to the hotel, Moon decided to start a food fight, and soon, cake began flying through the air of the hotel's hall. The evening culminated in Moon's knocking his front tooth out. At a nearby hospital, doctors could not give him anaesthetic due to his inebriated state and he had to endure the removal of the remainder of the tooth without freezing. Meanwhile, back at the hotel, a complete melee had erupted, with various fire extinguishers being set off, guests and objects being thrown into the swimming pool, and a piano reportedly destroyed. The riot only stopped when the police arrived and drew their handguns.
The management of the Holiday Inn were furious, and allegedly presented the groups with a bill of $24,000, which was settled either by Herman's Hermits or tour manager Edd McCann. Reports claimed that the company permanently banned Moon and the rest of The Who from all their hotel properties, but Fletcher is doubtful, noting that The Who stayed at a Holiday Inn in Rochester, New York only a week later. He also disputes that the widely held belief that Moon drove a Lincoln Continental into the hotel's swimming pool ever happened, attributing that to an interview Moon gave to Rolling Stone magazine in 1972.
Passing out on stage 
Moon's wild lifestyle began to undermine his health, music, and his reliability as a band member. During the 1973 Quadrophenia tour, at The Who's debut US date in the Cow Palace Arena, Daly City, California, Moon ingested a large mixture of tranquillisers and brandy. In a 1979 interview, Townshend claimed that Moon had consumed Ketamine pills, while Fletcher claims he took PCP. During the concert, Moon passed out on his drum kit while the band was playing the song "Won't Get Fooled Again". The band stopped playing and a group of roadies carried Moon offstage. They gave him a shower and an injection of cortisone, then sent him back onstage after a thirty-minute delay. Moon passed out for good during the song "Magic Bus" and was again removed from the stage. The band continued without him for a few songs. Finally, Townshend asked the audience, "Can anyone play the drums? – I mean somebody good". A local drummer in the audience, Scot Halpin, came up and played the drums for the rest of the show.
At the opening date of the band's March 1976 US tour in Boston Garden, Moon passed out over his drumkit after two numbers, which resulted in the gig being rescheduled a week later. The next evening, Moon systematically destroyed everything in his hotel room, cut himself in doing so, and subsequently passed out. He was discovered by manager Bill Curbishley, who took him to hospital, explaining to Moon that "I'm gonna get the doctor to get you nice and fit, so you're back within two days. Because I want to break your fucking jaw ... You have fucked this band around so many times and I'm not having it any more." Curbishley was told by doctors that, had he not intervened, Moon would have bled to death. Who biographer Marsh suggests that it was at this point that Daltrey and Entwistle seriously considered firing Moon, but decided that doing so would make his life even worse.
During the band's recording sabbatical between 1975 and 1978, Moon gained much weight. Nonetheless, Entwistle maintained that Moon and The Who reached their prime live peak during 1975 and 1976. Even so, by the close of the 1976 US tour in Miami that August, Moon became delirious, and was admitted to the Hollywood Memorial Hospital for eight days. The group was concerned that he would be unable to continue the last leg of the tour, which ended at the Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto on 21 October – his last ever public gig. By the time of the group's invitation-only gig at the Kilburn Gaumont in December 1977, intended for The Kids are Alright, he was visibly overweight and had difficulty keeping a solid performance. By the time the group recorded Who Are You, Townshend explained that if Moon's playing did not improve quickly, he would be sacked. Daltrey later denied doing this, but did concede that by this time, Moon was simply out of control.
Financial problems 
Owing to The Who's early stage act being reliant on smashing instruments, and Moon's enthusiasm for destroying hotels, the group were in debt for much of the 1960s: Entwistle estimates they ran at a continual loss of around £150,000. Even when the group became relatively financially stable after Tommy, Moon continued to rack up debts. He bought numerous cars and gadgets, and ran close to bankruptcy. His recklessness with money meant that his profit from the group's 1975 UK tour ran to a mere £47.35.
Personal life and relationships 
Before the release of "Dear Boy: The Life of Keith Moon" by Tony Fletcher in 1998, many assumed that Moon's date of birth was 23 August 1947. This erroneous date appeared in several otherwise reliable sources, such as the Townshend-authorised biography "Before I Get Old: The Story of The Who." The incorrect date had been propagated by Moon in interviews, and accepted as correct, before Fletcher disproved it after his thorough research, showing that Moon was in fact born on 23 August 1946.
Kim Kerrigan 
Moon's first serious relationship was with Kim Kerrigan, who he started dating in January 1965 after she saw The Who play at the Disc A Go Go in Bournemouth. By the end of the year, she discovered she was pregnant, and her parents, who were furious, met with Moon's to discuss options. She decided to move into the Moon family home in Wembley. They were married on 17 March 1966 at Brent Registry Office, and their daughter Amanda was born on 12 July. The marriage and daughter were kept a secret from the press until May 1968. He was occasionally violent towards Kim; "If we went out after I had Mandy," she later recalled, "if someone talked to me, he'd lose it. We'd go home and he'd start a fight with me." He loved Amanda, his regular absence through touring and fondness for practical jokes translated to an uneasy relationship with her as a very young girl. "He had no idea how to be a father," remembered Kim, adding "he was too much of a child himself".
From 1971 to 1975, Moon owned Tara, a home in Chertsey, where he initially lived with his wife and daughter. The Moons maintained an extravagant social life at that house, including numerous cars. Jack McCullogh, then working for the Who's record label Track Records, recalls Moon demanding he find and purchase a milk float to store in the garage at Tara.
In 1973, Kim, convinced that neither she nor anyone else could moderate Keith's behaviour, left her husband, taking Amanda with her. She eventually moved in with Faces keyboard player Ian McLagan. Biographer Marsh believes that Moon never truly recovered from the departure of his family. Butler concurs, noting that despite his later relationship with Annette Walter-Lax, he believes Kim was the only woman Moon loved. She died in a car accident in Austin, Texas on 2 August 2006.
Annette Walter-Lax 
In 1975, Moon began a relationship with Swedish model Annette Walter-Lax. Of their relationship, she later said that Moon was "so sweet when he was sober, that I was just living with him, in the hope that he would kick all this craziness." On one occasion, 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 and amphetamines), they allegedly concluded there was no hope in his rehabilitation.
Moon enjoyed being the life and soul of any party. Manager Curbishley remembers that "he wouldn't walk into any room and just listen. He was an attention seeker and he had to have it."
Early in The Who's career, Moon got to know The Beatles, and would join them at clubs, forming a particularly close friendship with Ringo Starr. Later, he became friends with Vivian Stanshall and "Legs" Larry Smith, who had both been members of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. They would regularly drink and perform practical jokes together. Smith remembers one occasion where he and Moon tore a pair of trousers apart, only for an accomplice to come in looking for one-legged trousers.
Guitarist Joe Walsh 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 was not even certain he ever knew the real Keith Moon, or if there was one. In 1974, Moon struck up a friendship with actor Oliver Reed, while working on the movie version of Tommy. While Reed was able to match Moon's drinking, he was also able to appear on set the next morning to deliver a perfect performance, whereas Moon would cost several hours of filming time.
Dougal Butler 
Peter 'Dougal' Butler started working for The Who in 1967, and became Moon's personal assistant the following year, with a general remit of helping him stay out of trouble. He recalls managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp saying "We trust you with Keith but if you ever want any time off, for a holiday or some sort of rest, let us know and we'll pay for it," though Butler never took them up on the offer.
Butler followed Moon to Los Angeles when he relocated there, but felt that the drug culture prevalent at the time became a severe detriment to Moon's health, later saying "my job was to have eyes in the back of my head." Though he was a loyal companion to Moon, the lifestyle eventually got too much for him, so he phoned up Curbishley, saying that they both needed to move back to England or one of them might die. He eventually left Moon's services in 1978.
Neil Boland 
On 4 January 1970, Moon was involved in a car-pedestrian death outside the Red Lion pub in Hatfield, Hertfordshire. Pub patrons had begun to attack his Bentley and the drunk Moon started driving the car to escape them. During the melee, Moon ran over and killed his friend, driver, and bodyguard, Neil Boland. After an investigation, the coroner ruled Boland's death as an accident. Moon received an absolute discharge after being charged with driving offences. Boland's daughter also investigated her father's death, questioning each witness. She eventually concluded that Moon was not driving the car when the tragedy occurred.
Those close to Moon said that he was haunted by Boland's death for the rest of his life. According to Pamela Des Barres, Moon had nightmares about the incident that woke both of them during the night. Immediately after waking, Moon would say that he had no right to be alive.
By September 1978, Moon was even having difficulty playing drums, according to roadie Dave "Cy" Langston. After going in the studio to overdub some drum sounds for The Kids Are Alright, Langston later said "after two or three hours, he got more and more sluggish, he could barely hold a drumstick."
On 6 September, Moon and Walter-Lax were guests of Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney at a preview of the film The Buddy Holly Story. After dining with the McCartneys at Peppermint Park in Covent Garden, Moon and Walter-Lax returned to their flat. The flat actually belonged to singer Harry Nilsson, who was lending it to Moon. The flat, No.12 at 9 Curzon Place (now called Curzon Square), Shepherd Market, Mayfair, was the same property where singer Cass Elliot died four years earlier.
Moon watched a film, The Abominable Dr. Phibes and requested Walter-Lax cook him a breakfast of steak and eggs. When she objected, Moon replied "If you don't like it, you can fuck off!" These turned out to be his last words. Moon then took 32 tablets of clomethiazole (Heminevrin). When she went to check on him the following afternoon, she discovered he was dead.
Clomethiazole is a sedative which was prescribed to Moon to alleviate his alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Moon desperately wanted to detox from alcohol; due to his fear of a psychiatric hospital, he wanted to do it at home. Clomethiazole is specifically discouraged for unsupervised home detox because of its addictiveness, its tendency to rapidly induce drug tolerance, and its 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. Dymond gave Moon a full bottle of 100 pills, and instructed him to take one pill whenever he felt a craving for alcohol (but not more than three pills per day). The police determined there were 32 pills in Moon's system, with the digestion of six being sufficient to cause his death, and the other 26 of which were still undissolved when he died.
Curbishley phoned the flat at around 5 pm, intending to speak to Moon, but instead got hold of Dymond, who gave him the grave news. He informed Townshend, who in turn informed the rest of the band. Entwistle was giving an interview to French journalists at the time, when he was interrupted by news of Moon's death on the phone. Attempting to tactfully and quickly close the interview down, he broke down in tears when the journalist asked him about future plans for The Who.
Moon died shortly after the release of Who Are You. On the album cover, he is seated on a chair back-to-front to hide the weight gained over three years; the words "NOT TO BE TAKEN AWAY" appear on the back of the chair.
After death 
After Moon's death, Small Faces/Faces drummer Kenney Jones became an official member of The Who. Simon Phillips later toured with the band as an unofficial member. The Who also added keyboardist John "Rabbit" Bundrick to the live band. As of September 2012, the Who's drum position is currently occupied by Zak Starkey, son of Ringo Starr. Starkey learned to drum from Moon, whom he called "Uncle Keith".
In 1998, author Tony Fletcher published a biography of Moon entitled Dear Boy: The Life of Keith Moon in the United Kingdom. The phrase "Dear Boy" had became a catchphrase of Moon's when he started affecting a pompous English accent, influenced by Lambert. In 2000, the book was released in the U.S. under the title, "Moon (The Life and Death of a Rock Legend)". Q Magazine said the book was "Horrific and terrific reading," while Record Collector said the book was "one of rock's great biographies."
The London 2012 Summer Olympic Committee contacted The Who manager Bill Curbishley about Moon performing at the games, 34 years after his death. In an interview with The Times, Curbishley quipped, "I emailed back saying Keith now resides in Golders Green crematorium, having lived up to The Who's anthemic line 'I hope I die before I get old' ... If they have a round table, some glasses and candles, we might contact him."
Moon's drumming has frequently drawn praise from critics. Author Nick Talevski described him as "the greatest drummer in rock," adding "he was to the drums what Jimi Hendrix was to the guitar." Holly George-Warren, editor and author of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: The First 25 Years, argues: "With the death of Keith Moon in 1978, rock arguably lost its single greatest drummer." According to Allmusic, "Moon, with his manic, lunatic side, and his life of excessive drinking, partying, and other indulgences, probably represented the youthful, zany side of rock & roll, as well as its self-destructive side, better than anyone else on the planet." In the words of Pete Townshend, "The production of our [The Who's] records has got nothing to do with sound. It's got to do with trying to keep Keith Moon on his fucking drum stool." Dave Marsh's The New Book of Rock Lists ranks Moon at No. 1 on its list of The 50 Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Drummers. Similarly, he was ranked at No. 2 on Rolling Stone's "The Best Drummers of All Time" readers poll in 2011. Adam Budofsky, editor of Drummer magazine, has stated his performances on Who's Next and Quadrophenia "represent a perfect balance of technique and passion" and that "there's been no drummer who's touched his unique slant on rock and rhythm since."
Several rock drummers have cited Moon as an influence, including Neil Peart and Dave Grohl. The Jam paid tribute to Moon on the second single from their third 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 Moon's face; the Jam's record was released about a month after Moon's death.
"God bless his beautiful heart ..." Ozzy Osbourne told Sounds a month after the drummer's death. "People will be talking about Keith Moon 'til they die, man. Someone somewhere will say, 'Remember Keith Moon?' Who will remember Joe Bloggs who got killed in a car crash? No one. He's dead, so what? He didn't do anything to talk of."
Animal, one of puppeteer Jim Henson's characters from the Muppets TV show and movies, was rumored to have been based on Keith Moon, due to the fact that both share similar hair, eyebrows, outrageous personality and wild drumming style. Several sources dispute this, including Jim Henson himself, who said he based Animal's looks and style primarily on his friend, Grammy-winning drummer, Steve Mitchell.
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- Neill, Andrew; Kent, Matthew (2009). Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of the WHO 1958–1978. Sterling Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4027-6691-6.
Further reading 
- Full Moon by Dougal Butler (Faber, 2012)
- The Who: Maximum R&B by Richard Barnes and Pete Townshend, Plexus Publishing; 5th edition (27 September 2004)
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