Keith Moon was only 18 when he joined The Who, but even before the drummer teamed up with Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, and John Entwistle, he’d already built up a reputation in the London scene after playing with an array of different bands.
Moon had only started drumming at the age of 15, yet, he knew that there was nothing else that he wanted to do with his life apart from playing the instrument to a professional standard. However, his career wasn’t accelerating as fast as he’d hoped, and once he caught the attention of The Who, things suddenly started to kick in place.
The band’s first drummer was Harry Wilson, and he lasted around a year in the line-up before Doug Sandom replaced him in 1962. However, neither man was a natural fit, and despite Sandom previously playing semi-professionally, he didn’t last much longer than his predecessor.
Things turned sour for Sandom, however, after Fontana Records criticised his drumming after the band’s failed audition, and this prompted Pete Townshend to tell him to fix up his playing, which led to him walking out of the group in anger.
Soon after, they met Moon during a show at the Oldfield when they were using a stand-in drummer, and after they invited him to join a session with them, he soon became their new member. At the time, he was already a member of the group, The Beachcombers, and Moon tried to juggle both bands for a brief period. However, his schedule got too hectic, and he decided that The Who needed to be his sole focus.
Speaking to Drum Magazine in 1972 about his first band, Moon recalled: “I don’t think we actually had a name. If we did it was something like the Mighty Avengers or the Escort or some polite name,” he said, adding: “We played Shane Fenton or Johnny Kidd And The Pirates or ‘Spanish Harlem,’ and Shadows stuff, and Zoots. We played local town halls or factory dances, weddings a specialty. I played in several different groups and I joined one called the Beachcombers”.
After meeting Moon through being on the same circuit as The Beachcombers, he proved to be the final piece of the jigsaw that the group needed, and his addition gave them a much-needed lift. “My whole style of drumming changed when I joined the band,” he admitted. “Before, I had just been copying straight from records, but with The Who I had to develop a style of my own. I took [the idea] from Gene Krupa with all the stick twiddling and thought it was great. The sticks used to fly out of my hands because I was sweating like a pig. They’d just slide out. All these things had an effect on the audience”.
The Who wouldn’t have been who they are if it wasn’t for Keith Moon, and if it weren’t for them coming into his life, the drummer would never have risen to his full potential either. However, if it weren’t for his time with The Beachcombers, then their worlds would never have overlapped, and that experience allowed this sliding doors moment to occur.