Drummers do not usually become the focus of a band. There have been exceptions, of course, such as Jon Bonham and Cozy Powell as well as others. Another drummer who rose to become a rock legend was Keith Moon of The Who.
He was born in Wembley, North London on the 23rd August 1946 and began to learn the drums from an early age. As a teenager, he joined three local bands – The Escorts, Mark Twain and the Strangers and The Beachcombers. He then joined The Who and was quickly followed into the band by a new singer, Roger Daltry. Their first album was My Generation and Moon’s drumming made a big impact. Further hits followed and in 1969, Pete Townsend produced a rock opera called Tommy as a double album.
Their music was appreciated by their many fans but it was to be their live concerts that would become legendary. One of the venues they played was The Marquee in Wardour Street, Soho. Although the club has gone, there is a blue plaque to the memory of Moon outside. Keith Moon stood out as the ultimate showman, both on and off the stage. Such was the pounding he gave to his drum kits, they often did not last long. Added to this was the action of Pete Townsend, often smashing his guitar to pieces on stage at the end of a concert. They soon earned the nickname of “the most exciting rock band in the world.”
Plaque to the Memory of Keith Moon
As stated before, Moon was just as wild off stage as he was on stage and he hated authority in all its forms. The media, of course, loved all this and soon gave him the title of “Moon the Loon.” But unfortunately, as is often the case, there was a downside. And this one was in the form of drink and drugs abuse.
Moon decided to take a break away from the band and moved to California. It was there that he met David Essex who was there to make a movie called “That’ll Be the Day.” It featured a fictional rock band and Moon was given the part of the drummer. The film was a success and they were both signed up for a follow-up. It was called “Stardust.”
In 1975, Moon produced a solo album entitled “Two Sides of the Moon” and two years after that he moved back to Britain. He re-joined The Who and they produced the last album that he would feature in. It was “Who Are You.”
During all of this time, his drink and drug problems did not improve. He was put on strong medication to help with his drinking, but whilst staying in the Mayfair, London apartment of a friend, he overdosed and died. It was on the 7th September 1978. Interestingly, this was the same apartment that Momma Cass also passed away in. Keith Moon was a bigger-than-life character who epitomised what it was to be called a rock legend.