Keith John Moon born on August 23, 1946 in Wembley, England. He was a hyperactive kid with a restless imagination. His teacher commented in his report card that he was 'Retarted artistically. Idiotic in other respects.' He was just a natural in a sloppy sense that later defined who he was.
At the age of 14 his mother bought him a drum set and took lessons from one of the loudest drummers at the time, Carlo Little. Keith would always tell people that he never took any lessons. His musical inspirations was surf music and he was big fans of The Beach Boys and Jan and Dean. He joined a group called The Beachcombers which was a surf cover band. He stayed with them for about 18 months before he joined a band called The Detours, later call themselves The Who in May of 1964. Keith replaced their original drummer, Doug Sandom. Sandom left the band for about a month before Keith joined which during the band has hired a session drummer to fill in. Pete Townsend remembers Keith dressed all in ginger coloured clothes even his hair was dyed in ginger. Between one of The Who's set Keith comes up to Roger Daltrey and tells him "I'm a much better drummer than the one you have." He jumps onstage and practically demolishes the drums while jamming. The rest is history.
Keith Moon was only 17 years old and was the baby of the group. He was the heart and soul of The Who. He was a master practical joker and always full of pranks. He was a ball of energy and kept everyone who was around him alert at all times. You never know what he was going to do next.
His drum sets started out very basic of various 4 or 5 piece kits. He made the transition to the british Premier double bass in late 1965. This was inspired by a conversation he had with Ginger Baker who played with Cream. Keith as inventive as he was just simply put two drumsets together. This gave Moonie more toys in his play ground, and later on he almost entirely abandoned the hi-hat cymbals and added more grooves to the double bass consisting of eighth note flams.
His drum setup was two 14"x22" bass drums, three 8"x14" mounted toms, two 16"x16" floor toms, a 5"x14" metal snare(Ludwig supraphonic), and one extra floor tom of several different sizes. His cymbal setup was paiste with two 18" crashes and one 20" ride. His drums would get larger than that by the mid-seventies.
Early on in his career at the end of a concert Keith would destroy his drums and Pete would bash his guitar into pieces. This would be their trademark and other bands began to copy The Who's antics.
At an appearance on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour television show, he overloaded his bass drum with explosives that was detonated at the end of "My Generation." A piece of cymbal embedded into Keith's leg and Pete temporarily lost his hearing and his hair caught on fire.
For his 21st birthday(he was actually 20) he was banned for life from the Holiday Inn chain where Keith and his guests proceeded to get incredibly drunk. Making a lot of noise, and the manager had come in to tell them to quiet down, and Keith pushed what was left of his birthday cake into the guy's face. Later on Keith slipped in the cake and knocked his front tooth out when he fell down. When he went to the dentist to get it fixed, he was too drunk to get painkillers! An accident occured when trying to get away from a crowd of skinheads and Keith got into his car and ran over his body guard Neil Boland who was trying to clear a path for the car to get through. That event always haunted Keith for the rest of his life.
Keith married Kim Kerrigan in March 17, 1966 and together they had one daughter, Mandy who was born on July 12, 1966. Their relationship was up and down until she left him in 1973 then divorced in 1975 because she couldn't take his lunacy and party lifestyle. In 1975 he released his only solo album called 'Two Sides of the Moon.' It was basically a party in the studio with his drinking buddies Ringo Starr and Harry Nilsson. You would think it would be a drummer's album, but Keith only played drums on three of the tracks. He was very enthusiastic about his singing and he sung on a few Who tracks. Though I enjoyed his solo album very much. It shows his creativity and I think he personalized each song on the album.
Discipline was not a vocabulary that Keith used. The only time he played the drums was when he was performing with The Who. Remarkably, he never practiced and never had a drum set in any place he lived. The late John Entwistle recalls during rehearsals where he needed 2-3 days to reteach himself to play drums. He was also a gifted actor and played the role of Uncle Ernie in the film Tommy, and many other films. He also made a comedy album that remains unreleased to this day.
Although Moon was foolish and mad, he wasn't always pranking and fooling around. Keith was very generous to people. He once gave his solid gold lighter to someone who needed a light. Keith was always made out to be some kind of lunactic and an evil guy. And he wasn't. He was really a good guy. It wasn't like he killed anyone...on purpose anyway. He was often really lonely, which is probably why he tried to draw so much attention to himself. Nutty, but a good guy.
I think he was haunted by the death of his chauffeur/bodyguard, and by the divorce of his wife. He was depressed, and gained a lot of weight in his last years. Keith did, however, try to get his act together. He cut back on his drinking, and took Heminevrin pills, an anti-alchoholism medicine.
Moonie's final night out was as a guest of Paul McCartney at the preview of the film The Buddy Holly Story on September 7, 1978. After dining with Paul and Linda McCartney, Moon and his girlfriend, Annette Walter-Lax, left the party early and returned to their flat. He died that night at the age of 32 of an overdose on Heminevrin pills. When the police investigated the cause of his death they determined that there were about 32 pills in his system. Some were undissolved. In an odd coincidence, he died in the same flat, No.12 at 9 Curzon Place(London), that singer Cass Elliot (aged 32) died in, a little over four years prior.
Moonie died a couple of weeks after the release of the last Who album he appeared on, 'Who Are You'. All four band members are shown on the album cover, with Moonie seated on a chair back-to-front in order to hide all the weight he had gained in the previous three years. The chair was labeled "NOT TO BE TAKEN AWAY". That always gives me the chills! I had a dream several years ago that I tried to warn the mighty Keith Moon that if he doesn't cool down he was going to die. He waived his drink and told me to "f*ck off! I'm Keith Moon!" I'll never forget that dream. All he ever wanted to do was play drums for The Who. And he could have...
His ex-wife, Kim Moon McLagan, was killed in a car accident in August 2006 in Texas.
His daughter Mandy is married with two kids and lives in Southern California.
Here's a piece of trivia for you...The Muppets character 'Animal' was based off of Keith Moon.
"I am still the best Keith Moon-type drummer around." -Keith Moon, 1978