When Keith Moon was 17 years-old he joined The Who and replaced drummer Doug Sandom. He immediately impacted the band’s sound and became known for his innovative drumming style. Along with Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, and John Entwistle, Moon would help The Who become one of the most popular bands of the 1960s and 1970s. The group was known for explosive concerts and destructive behavior. The first such performance occurred in 1964 at the Railway Tavern in Harrow and Wealdstone, London, when Townshend accidentally broke the head of his guitar through the ceiling, so he continued to smash it on stage and the crowd loved it. More people came back the next night wanting the band to smash and break something.
Keith Moon had no problem fitting in with the lifestyle of a rock star. He had an erratic personality and gained the nickname “Moon the Loon.” In one famous performance Moon filled his clear acrylic drums with water and goldfish, and dressed like a cat. He was a jokester and Moon’s ability to make his bandmates laugh around the vocal microphone led to him being banished from the studio when albums were being recorded. In response, Moon would sneak into the studio and join in the singing. He can be heard on several tracks, including Bell Boy, Bucket T, and Barbara Ann. He is the high backing vocals on Pictures of Lily.
Keith Moon was known to demolish hotel rooms and was incredibly destructive. He would often throw furniture from high buildings and set objects on fire. However, his favorite hobby was blowing up toilets with explosives. The blasts would destroy the toilet and often times disrupt plumbing to the hotel. It has been estimated that Moon’s destruction of toilets and plumbing ran as high as UK£300,000 (US$500,000). Moon was banned from several hotel chains including all Holiday Inn, all Sheraton, all Hilton Hotels, and the Waldorf Astoria.
According to Tony Fletcher’s biography, Moon was quoted: “All that porcelain flying through the air was quite unforgettable.” Fletcher wrote: “no toilet in a hotel or changing room was safe,” until Moon had detonated his supply of explosives. In one case, hotel management asked Moon to turn down his cassette player. In response, he asked the manager up to his room and blew up the toilet right in front of him. Moon then turned the cassette player back up and said: “This is The Who.”
In 1967, Keith Moon allegedly drove a Cadillac or Lincoln Continental into a Holiday Inn pool. In 1973, The Who was performing at the Cow Palace in San Francisco and Moon passed out during the show. Townshend noticed that he was sleeping and asked the audience, “Can anyone play the drums? I mean somebody good.” An audience member named Scot Halpin stepped up and finished the concert for Moon.
Ringo Starr once told Keith Moon that his lifestyle would eventually kill him. Moon simply replied “Yeah, I know.” Keith Moon died on September 7, 1978 (age 32) after he ingested 32 tablets of clomethiazole (Heminevrin). The digestion of six pills was sufficient to cause his death. The other 26 were found undissolved in his stomach. This caused some to speculate that Moon’s death might have been on purpose. Officially it was ruled a drug overdose.
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