As well as being the mercurial drummer of The Who on stage, Keith Moon also took on the role of the group’s madman off stage. Yet, when he took to the stage with The Who on May 25th, 1978, nobody could’ve imagined it would be his last.
The iconic drummer would die just four months later as the result of his excessive rock and roll lifestyle and leave this, The Who’s performance at Shepperton Studios, as the last time the group would ever perform as their iconic line-up.
The performance came as part of the group’s documentary The Kids Are Alright as The Who were filming pick-up shots for the film. A short performance that would be marred by tension and a serious lack of cohesion within the group that had started out life as a rock and roll gang.
The session was an undeniably tense one. With a small audience in attendance, the group were being put under intense pressure from the documentary’s director, Jeff Stein. The filmmaker wanted the performance of the band’s 1970 anthem ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ to have a little more swagger and demanded The Who added some more verve to their rendition of the track.
Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwhistle and Keith Moon declined at first and argued the validity of re-shooting a live performance. Yet, they soon relented and gave Stein the fiery finisher the director desired, providing a captivating last song for the small crowd. Afterwards, with Stein sated, Keith Moon climbed over his drum kit, took a bow and shook hands with some members of the audience before walking off stage. Sadly, for the very last time.
It’s a performance which hangs heavy over the heads of The Who fans and friends. One such friend was Chris Glen who, while performing with Michael Schenker Group, had shared the last years of Keith Moon’s life with him.
“It’s very emotional, and sadly it’s far from his best,” said Glen in an exclusive interview with Ultimate Classic Rock. “He’d put on a lot of weight by that time … and the worst bit was that the Who hadn’t been together for a while. I saw him the week after the recording and he told me, ‘I wish we’d got together before it, just hung out together for a bit, and that would have made it better.’”
Watch Keith Moon’s last performance with The Who as they take on ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ for their documentary The Kids Are Alright.