Keith Moon

Keith Moon Biography.com

Drummer(1946–c. 1978)
Keith Moon was a legendary drummer for the rock band the Who before his untimely death by accidental drug overdose in 1978.

Synopsis

Keith Moon was born on August 23, 1946, in London, England. He joined the Who in 1964, at age 17. In addition to his work with the Who, Keith Moon also collaborated with future members of Led Zeppelin on several projects. Additionally, he released a solo album in 1975. He died tragically of a drug overdose on September 7, 1978, when he was just 32 years old.

Early Life

Famed rock drummer Keith John Moon was born on August 23, 1946, in London, England, to parents Alfred and Kathleen Moon. His father worked as a maintenance mechanic and his mother was a cleaner. At an early age, Moon showed an interest in music, listening to songs on the family's record player.

Growing up in London's Wembley neighborhood, Moon was at best a mediocre student. He has been described as a hyperactive student and kind of a loner. Moon did, however, show some promise as a musician. He started out playing the bugle and then the trumpet. At the age of 14, Moon received a drum kit from his mother. He took to the instrument without much instruction.

In 1962, Moon joined his first band, the Escorts. He moved on to his next group, the Beachcombers, later that year. Before long, Moon teamed up with Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend and John Entwistle to make rock history.

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The Who

In 1964, a 17-year-old Moon joined forces with Daltry, Townshend and Entwistle in the Who. The band had their first major breakthrough in the United Kingdom the following year with the song "I Can't Explain." Two years later, the Who hit the American charts with their first top ten single with "I Can See for Miles."

In their early performances, the Who developed their aggressive style, which often involved them destroying their instruments on stage at the conclusion of a performance. Moon was a very enthusiastic, although not very good, singer. The rest of the band members banned him from singing on their albums, which resulted in a game whereby Moon kept trying to sneak into recording sessions.

Although the group had a reputation for being a contentious bunch of musicians, Moon flourished in the creative atmosphere. He developed his distinctive, hard-driving style which propelled drumming from merely background support to a lead instrument. He created an enormous drum kit by combining several individual drum kits. Moon was a pioneering rock drummer. As Moon biographer Tony Fletcher told NPR, "Keith was the first to treat the drums as though they were a lead instrument. He really made the drums an instrument that spoke very much in the same way that a lead guitar does."

Moon had a larger-than-life personality and his onstage antics were legend. He earned the nickname "Moon the Loon" for pulling stunts such as filling a clear drum set with water and putting goldfish in the modified "tanks." He proceeded to play the kit during a show. During an appearance on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour television show, he loaded his drums with explosives, which detonated during the band's finale performance of "My Generation."

Untimely Death

Moon wasn't just a wild man on stage. He was known for his hard partying lifestyle. His 21st birthday party is remembered as an epic event. It has been debated for years whether or not Moon actually drove a car into a swimming pool that night. But he did somehow lose one of his front teeth at the celebration.

Just as he tried to conquer some of his demons, Moon died unexpectedly at the age of 32. On September 7, 1978, after celebrating the release of The Buddy Holly Story at a party thrown by Paul and Linda McCartney, Moon returned home with his girlfriend, Annette Walter-Lax. He died later that night of an overdose of Clomethiazole (Heminevrin), a drug prescribed to help wean him off alcohol.

In addition to his work with the Who, Moon left behind one solo album, Two Sides of the Moon, released in 1975. His music influenced countless other artists, including John Bonham and Dave Grohl.

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