Before his divorce Moon dated Georgiana Steele, a British-born former fashion model who worked in their quadrophonic recording studio, Ramport, in Battersea and in 1974 Moon began dating Swedish model Annette Walter-Lax.
At age 12, Moon joined his local Sea Cadet Corps band as a bugle player but traded his position to be a drummer. Moon started drums at 14 after his father bought him a kit. He received lessons from one of the loudest drummers at the time, Carlo Little, paying him 10 shillings a lesson. During this time he joined his first serious band The Escorts. He later spent 18 months as the drummer for The Beachcombers, a London cover band notable for renditions of songs by Cliff Richard.
Moon 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, particularly Hal Blaine of Wrecking Crew. However, he played faster and louder, with more persistence and authority. Moon's favourite musicians were jazz artists Gene Krupa and Sonny Rollins.
At 17, Moon joined The Who, replacing Doug Sandom after the band received the news that they could not expect a recording contract without a better drummer. Early in The Who's career, as they gained a following, they sought to set themselves apart from other bands of the time. When their live sets culminated in what they later described as "auto-destructive art", with Townshend (and Moon delightedly following suit) destroying their equipment in elaborate fashion, they made a name for themselves in the press and gained the attention they had lacked. It was an act that was imitated by other bands and artists including Jimi Hendrix (who had just signed with the same label) in his breakout performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Moon showed a zeal for this, kicking and smashing his drums. During the end of their 1967 appearance performing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Moon had explosives loaded into one of his kit's two bass drums. During the finale of "My Generation", he kicked the other drum off the riser and then set off the charge, with the intensity of the explosion surprising even himself. He singed Townshend's hair and embedded a piece of cymbal in his own arm. The blast has been speculated as starting Townshend's tinnitus, though Townsend himself attributes his hearing loss to years of headphone use in the recording studio. During one of his only drum solo performances on television, Moon filled clear acrylic drums with water and goldfish, playing them for the audience. Antics like these earned him the nicknames "Moon the Loon" and "Mad Moon". Cultivating publicity for his behaviour, he became one of the most well-known drummers in his generation, and the other members of the Who benefited from the exposure as well.
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. He can be heard singing lead on several tracks, including "Bell Boy" (Quadrophenia, 1973), "Bucket T" and "Barbara Ann" (Ready Steady Who EP, 1966), and the high backing vocals on other songs, such as "Pictures Of Lily" and "Guitar And Pen".
Moon was credited as composer of "I Need You," which he also sang, and the instrumental "Cobwebs and Strange" (from 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). He also co-composed the instrumental "The Ox" (from the debut album My Generation) with Townshend, Entwistle and keyboardist Nicky Hopkins. "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 it in live concerts, and on the film version of Tommy. He also produced "Baba O'Riley"'s violin solo (which he had suggested), performed by Dave Arbus, a friend.
Daltrey said Moon's drumming style held the band together; that Entwistle and Townshend "were like knitting needles... and Keith was the ball of wool."
Many rock drummers have cited Keith Moon as an influence, including Neil Peart, and Dave Grohl. The Jam paid tribute to Keith 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 Keith Moon's face; The Jam's record was released about a month after Moon's death.
Moon led a very destructive and irresponsible lifestyle. He laid waste to hotel rooms, the homes of friends and even his own home, throwing furniture out of high windows. In one case, the band were due to perform at a Charlton Athletic football ground, and the band were waiting in the dressing room for Moon to arrive. A witness described the drummer's sudden entry: "Suddenly, there was a great crash and Keith Moon dropped through the ceiling, having smashed his way through the corrugated iron roof."
Along with his drum sets, Moon's infamous (and favourite) calling card was to flush powerful explosives down toilets. It has been estimated that his destruction of toilets and plumbing ran as high as USD$500,000, and his repeated practice of blowing up toilets with explosives led to Moon being banned for life from lodging at several hotel chains around the world, including all Holiday Inn, Sheraton, and Hilton Hotels, as well as the Waldorf Astoria. Moon became so notorious for this practice that when Nick Harper was asked about his childhood memories spent around The Who, his first recollection was, "I remember Keith blowing up the toilets."
“One day I was in Keith’s room and I said, ‘Could I use your bog?’ and he smiled and said, ‘Sure.’ I went in there and there was no toilet, just sort of an S bend, and I thought ‘Christ, what happened?’ He said, ‘Well this cherry bomb was about to go off in me hand and I threw it down the toilet to stop it going off.’ So I said, ‘Are they that powerful?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, it’s incredible!’ So I said, ‘How many of ‘em have you got?’ with fear in me eyes. He laughed and said, ‘Five hundred,’ and opened up a case full to the top with cherry bombs. And of course from that moment on we got thrown out of every hotel we ever stayed in.”
Pete Townshend, from the book Amazing Journey: The Life of Pete Townshend by Mark Wilkerson
According to Tony Fletcher’s biography, Moon’s toilet pyrotechnics began in 1965, when he purchased 500 cherry bombs. In time, Moon would graduate from just cherry bombs to taking out toilets with Roman candles and M-80s. Eventually, Moon began using sticks of dynamite, his explosive of choice, to destroy toilets. “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." In a very short period of time, Moon developed a reputation of “leaving holes” in bathroom floors, completely annihilating the toilets, mesmerizing Moon and enhancing his reputation as a hellraiser. Fletcher goes on to state that, “no toilet in a hotel or changing room was safe” until Moon had burned through his supply of explosives.
Unknown to many people at the time, Moon was often able to cajole John 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." During one incident between Moon and hotel management, Moon was asked to turn down his cassette player because The Who were making "too much noise." In response, Moon asked the manager up to his room, lit a stick of dynamite in the toilet, and shut the bathroom door. 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 a different occasion in Alabama, Moon and Entwistle loaded a toilet with cherry bombs because 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...'"
The acts, though often fuelled by drugs and alcohol, were his way of expressing his eccentricity, as well as the joy he got from shocking the public. In Moon's biography, Full Moon, longtime friend and drum technician Dougal Butler, who tended Keith's drum kit, observed: "He would do anything if he knew that there were enough people around who didn't want him to do it."
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Drum Dungeon Bio - KEITH MOON
Keith John Moon (23 August 1946 – 7 September 1978) was the drummer of the English rock group The Who. He gained acclaim for his exuberant and innovative drumming style, and notoriety for his eccentric and often self destructive behaviour, earning him the nickname "Moon the Loon." Moon joined The Who in 1964. He played on all albums and singles from their debut, 1964's "Zoot Suit", to 1978's Who Are You, which was released three weeks before his death.
Moon was known for dramatic, suspenseful drumming—often eschewing basic back beats for a fluid, busy technique focused on fast, cascading rolls across the toms, ambidextrous double bass drum work and wild cymbal crashes and washes. He is mentioned in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the greatest of all rock and roll drummers.
Keith John Moon lived in Wembley, London. As a boy he was hyperactive and had a restless imagination. As a youth, the one thing that could hold his attention was music. In a report from his secondary modern school, his art teacher commented: 'Retarded artistically. Idiotic in other respects.'
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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." 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. Moon failed his eleven plus exam, and left school in 1961.
On 17 March 1966, Moon married his pregnant girlfriend Kim Kerrigan in secrecy. Their daughter Amanda was born on 12 July 1966. Kerrigan left him in 1973. She took Mandy with her to live in the house of Faces keyboard player Ian McLagan, with whom she was having an affair, and divorced Moon in 1975. (Kerrigan and McLagan married in October 1978, one month after Moon's death. She herself was killed in a car crash in Texas in 2006.)
Moonies last LIVE performance with The Who before his passing.
Says "drum solo" but just the standard fills that Keith wrote and belong to the song
Keith's bandmates speak about their lost friends brilliance as a drummer
Famous clip of The Who on the Smothers Bros. variety show where Keith put too much explosives in his kit [second explosion at the end] that purportedly robbed Pete of a majority of his hearing in one ear.
Aside from his romantic relationships, although his behaviour was outrageous, it was in the humorous vein as his friend Vivian Stanshall, of the Bonzo Dog Band claimed. Moon produced Stanshall's version of Terry Stafford's Suspicion.
According to Townshend, Moon's reputation for erratic behaviour was something he cultivated. Once, 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 returned, Moon ran to his room, grabbed the TV while it was plugged in, threw it out the window and into the pool. He then jumped back into the limousine, sighing "I nearly forgot."'
In 1967, Moon set in motion events which would become one of rock's most famous legends. According to the book Local DJ, a Rock & Roll History, Moon, drunk at his 21st birthday party in Flint, Michigan, allegedly drove a Cadillac (according to Moon's own account, it was a Lincoln Continental) into the Holiday Inn pool, and blew the toilet in his room to pieces, leaping out of the bathroom at the last possible moment to avoid porcelain toilet shards. While Moon had established a notorious history of blowing up toilets at other Holiday Inns, the car incident led to them being banned from Flint and The Holiday Inn for life. The Who had just opened for Herman's Hermits. Author Peter C. Cavanaugh, who was there and witnessed the event firsthand, recalled the events for a documentary on the '60's rock scene. According to the book, The Who In Their Own Words, Moon said the incident was at the Holiday Inn in Flint, Michigan. He said this was how he broke his front tooth. Other people who attended the event, including Who bandmate John Entwistle, cast doubt on the veracity of the car-in-the-swimming-pool story, but confirm some other parts of the tale. Another version of the night was recounted by Moon biographer Tony Fletcher in the book Moon: The Life and Death of a Rock Legend; "It was (after a cake fight) that the cry came to 'debag' the birthday boy... Various members of (Herman's Hermits and The Who) launched themselves on Keith, pinned him to the floor and successfully pulled his trousers down...As the teenage girls began gasping and giggling and the cops started grunting their disapproval, Keith, naked from the waist down, made a good-natured dash for it out of the room...and smashed one of his front teeth out."'(p.p. 210) It was after Moon went to the dentist and the party was disbanded that the 30-40 guests filed out, a few taking fire extinguishers to cars and dirtying the swimming pool.
On 4 January 1970, Moon was involved in a car-pedestrian death outside the Red Lion pub in Hatfield, Hertfordshire. Trying to escape hostile patrons from the pub who had begun to attack his Bentley, Moon, drunk, attempted to take control of his car, which in the melee, ran over and killed his friend, driver, and bodyguard, Neil Boland. Although the coroner said Boland's death was an accident and Moon was given an absolute discharge having been charged with driving offences, those close to him said Moon was haunted by the accident for the rest of his life. Boland's daughter spent a significant amount of time investigating and questioning each witness from the police blotter, and concluded that Moon was not the person behind the wheel of the car. However, Keith never recovered from feelings of guilt. Pamela Des Barres, a groupie with whom Moon had an ongoing relationship over the course of three years in Los Angeles, was alarmed by his frequent nightmares, which woke them both during the night, with Moon convinced that he had no right to be alive.
It was Keith Moon who recommended the name "Led Zeppelin" to Jimmy Page who intended to name his new band 'Mad Dog'. According to Oxford lexicographer Susie Dent Moon and John Entwistle were speculating with Page about the possible formation of a supergroup when Moon remarked that a particular suggestion had fallen like a "lead zeppelin" (i.e. "lead balloon"). Page later adopted the term, but spelt "lead" as "led" because he thought otherwise it would be mispronounced (as /li:d/) in America. Although Moon's work with The Who dominated his career, he participated in minor outside projects. In 1966, he did his first work 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", released as a single-double later that year. He also played timpani on another track, "Ol' Man River" (credited on the back of the album as "You Know Who").
On 15 December 1969, Moon joined John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band for a live performance at the Lyceum Ballroom in London for a UNICEF charity concert. The supergroup also consisted of Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Nicky Hopkins, Yoko Ono, Billy Preston and Klaus Voormann. The band played Lennon's Cold Turkey and Ono's Don't Worry Kyoko. The performance was eventually released in 1972 as a companion disc to Lennon & Ono's Some Time In New York City LP.
He joined Led Zeppelin on stage and drummed with John Bonham for encores in a show on 23 June 1977 at the L.A. Forum (recorded on Led Zeppelin bootlegs, For Badgeholders Only/Sgt. Page's Badgeholders Only Club).
In 1974 Track Records/MCA released a solo single: "Don't Worry, Baby" b/w "Teenage Idol", the former a reflection of his love of The Beach Boys.
Valentine's Day 1974, Moon performed on drums with Jimmy Page, Ronnie Lane, Max Middleton and fellow drummer John Bonham on acoustic guitar for the gig premiering Roy Harper's album Valentine.
In 1975, 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.
In late 1975, he played drums on the track "Bo Diddley Jam" on Bo Diddley's The 20th Anniversary of Rock 'n' Roll all-star album.
In 1971, he had a cameo role in Frank Zappa's film 200 Motels. He acted in drag as a nun fearful of death from overdosing on pills. In 1973 he appeared in That'll Be the Day, playing J.D. Clover, the drummer at a holiday camp during the early days of British rock 'n' roll. Moon reprised the role for the sequel Stardust in 1974. The film co-starred Moon's friend Ringo Starr of The Beatles. He appeared as "Uncle Ernie" in Ken Russell's 1975 film adaptation of Tommy. In a bar about 1975, he asked Graham Chapman and Bernard McKenna to do a "treatment" for a "mad movie". They asked a thousand pounds, Moon pulled the cash from his pocket and gave it to them. This was the start of the project that would become the movie Yellowbeard. Moon wanted to play the lead but the movie took many years to develop, and by that time he was in physically poor shape, and unsuitable. In 1976, he covered the Beatles' "When I'm Sixty-Four" for the soundtrack of the documentary All This and World War II. He impersonated a camp fashion designer in Sextette (1978), starring Mae West.
Moon once owned a hotel, the Crown and Cushion in Chipping Norton.
Moon was Paul McCartney's guest at a film preview of The Buddy Holly Story on the evening of 6 September 1978. After dining with Paul and Linda McCartney at Peppermint Park in Covent Garden, Moon and his girlfriend, Annette Walter-Lax, returned to a flat on loan from Harry Nilsson, No.12 at 9 Curzon Place, Shepherd Market, Mayfair in which Cass Elliot had died a little more than four years earlier. Moon then took 32 tablets of Clomethiazole (Heminevrin). The medication was a sedative he had been prescribed to alleviate his alcohol withdrawal symptoms as he tried to go dry on his own at home; he was desperate to get clean, but was terrified of another stay in the psychiatric hospital for in-patient detoxification. However, Clomethiazole is specifically contraindicated for unsupervised home detox because of its addictiveness, tendency to rapidly induce drug tolerance and 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. He had given Moon a full bottle of 100 pills, and instructed him to take one whenever he felt a craving for alcohol (but not more than 3 per day). The police determined there were 32 pills in his system, with the digestion of 6 being sufficient to cause his death, and the other 26 of which were still undissolved when he died.
Moon died a couple of weeks 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 (as discussed in Tony Fletcher's book Dear Boy) - the chair also hauntingly has stenciled on it "Not To Be Taken Away" .
Keith Moon was cremated after his death in September 1978. His ashes were scattered in the Gardens of Remembrance at Golders Green Crematorium in London.
• While Moon was alive, The Who performed with four members. After his death, Moon's drumseat was filled by Small Faces/Faces drummer Kenney Jones and later Simon Phillips. The Who also added keyboardist John "Rabbit" Bundrick to the live band. The Who's drum position is currently occupied by Zak Starkey, son of Ringo Starr. Starkey was taught by Moon and referred to him as "Uncle Keith".
• Daltrey recorded a song, "Under a Raging Moon", as a tribute to Moon and the "Middle Bar" in the London Astoria was named after him.
• A biography was written about Moon by Tony Fletcher, entitled Dear Boy: The Life of Keith Moon. "Dear Boy" became a catchphrase of Moon's when he started affecting a pompous English accent around 1969, particularly when ordering drinks.
• In early 2006, Moon's signature Pictures of Lily drum kit was reissued by Premier Percussion under the name Spirit of Lily.
• Moon's ex-wife, Kim, was married to Ian McLagan of the Faces in 1978, the year that Moon died. She was killed in a road traffic accident near Austin, Texas on 2 August 2006.
• Daltrey is producing a biopic about Moon called See Me Feel Me: Keith Moon Naked for Your Pleasure, which will be released in 2012. Comedian Mike Myers will play the main role and may have to take drumming lessons to suit the character.