With a career filled with some of the most elusive highs, The Who and its members also experienced some of the most tragic lows. 50 years on, we look back at one of the band’s darker days, the horrendous moment Keith Moon accidentally killed his chauffeur with his Bentley.
The Who’s anarchic drummer was allegedly at the wheel in 1970 when in a freak accident occurred, an incident which led to Moon accidentally running over his driver Neil Boland who was tragically killed as a result.
The sad story starts, as it often does with Moon, in the pub. The rock star, as known for his crazed antics as for immense playing behind The Who’s drum kit, was visiting the opening of the Red Lion pub in Hatfield, Hertfordshire when the trouble started.
Moon was attending the event as a favour to his neighbour’s son who was running the pub. The drummer arrived at the strictly working-class establishment in his flashy Bentley, expensive clothes, and with a penchant for pricey brandy instead of a cold beer. It didn’t take long for the pub’s clientele, an establishment allegedly filled with skinheads, to turn their attentions towards Moon the Loon.
After much more posturing between the groups and a hefty dose more alcohol, the atmosphere of the night soon got darker. Moon’s group jumped into their Bentley only to be confronted by a group of lads throwing stones and coins at the car, rocking it back and forth while preventing them from leaving.
In an attempt to try and defuse the situation, Moon’s driver Boland exited the car and confronted the group at the front of the vehicle. Moon, clearly panicked by the ferocity of the group, took the unusual decision to jump behind the wheel of the car (he didn’t drive even when sober) and attempted a heroic getaway.
In a series of terribly unfortunate and sad events, Boland was trapped under the hood of the Bentley as Moon accelerated and ended up being dragged down the road as the group made their escape. Boland would sadly die as a result of his injuries later that night in the hospital.
Following Boland’s death, Moon was charged with his death alongside charges for drink driving and driving without a license or insurance. Some six weeks later, the death was ruled as an accident and Moon escaped any serious charges, though he did plead guilty to the driving charges.
It would be a tragic event in Moon’s short life and would haunt him until his death at the age of 32. As we look back at the event on it 50 years later, it sadly falls in line with a rollercoaster of a career and a life punctuated by tragedy.