The late Keith Moon’s legacy is drenched in scandal, but, according to The Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood, those famous stories about the drummer only tell a portion of the truth about him.
While we’ve all heard about Moon’s wild escapades, the other side to his personality is less told. The nickname ‘Moon the Loon’ was extremely fitting and only heightened the larger than life persona which had started to build around him. However, it did ignore the more tender side that also existed.
It’s understandable how the narrative has been built when on his 21st birthday, he recklessly decided to drive a Lincoln Continental into a swimming pool at a Holiday Inn while inebriated rather than being nuanced. Before Wood went on to join The Jeff Beck Group, The Faces, and latterly, The Rolling Stones, he was the guitarist in The Birds who played on the same circuit as The Who.
In his 2015 memoir, Wood reflected on his memories of the Ealing Jazz Club, which was at the epicentre of the London scene during the early ’60s where he and Moon cut their teeth.
“Keith Moon actually sat in with us one night, he used to be a big supporter,” Wood recalled. “I remember one night, the Who came down. They had a hit with ‘I Can’t Explain’, and they all came in the Ealing Club saying ‘We’re number one! We’re number one!’, and we’re going ‘You bastards!’ from the stage’. We had a friendly rivalry with them,” he wistfully reminisced.
During an interview with Rolling Stone, Wood talked more deeply about his relationship with Moon and explained why he’s a misunderstood character.
“He was a hell-raiser, but a hell of a gentleman at the same time,” The Stones guitarist commented. “It was hard to think that the same guy that was really polite to your mother in his smoking jacket was also the guy that was drilling through the hotel room to get in bed with [John] Entwistle because he didn’t want to be lonely.”
In 2000, Wood paid tribute to Moon by drawing the late drummer and reiterated this point in the description for the artwork. He explained: “He was a lovely gentleman. He was very polite and would just go mad. But that was the other side of his lovely personality.”
Since Moon has passed, he has almost been dehumanised and morphed into this cartoonish caricature. However, Wood’s remarks are a moving reminder that his nonsensical antics only showcase a small window into his life and don’t reflect the full Moon.