The Who’s drummer, Keith Moon, was a wild man. A man who lived every single day like it was his last, and when he had an impulse to do something, nothing was stopping him from achieving that goal.
The drummer was extraordinary in every sense of the word. While it is well documented that Moon once famously drove his car through the glass doors of a hotel, then drove all the way up to the reception desk, got out and asked for his room key — this is only one of many crazy stories. The percussionist was a nemesis of every hotel he stayed at and even enlisted the help of New York’s yellow cab brigade to help him destroy one room.
Moon’s character was once perfectly summarised by Alice Cooper, who remarked: “Nobody could compete with Keith Moon. Think of it this way: about 40 per cent of what you’ve heard about me, or Iggy, or Ozzy, is probably true. Everything you’ve ever heard about Keith Moon is true, and you’ve only heard a tenth of it.” It’s a serious claim that truly highlights that Moon was the champion of chaos.
The date was April 30th, 1976; The Who were on tour in the States, and the hedonistic Moon was looking for some fun. His level of boredom had gone through the roof as he sat in his New York hotel room, and he began pondering his next move. But with a pocket full of money and a head full of banana skins, Moon was sure to find an ingenious method to fill that boredom.
The Who drummer took it upon himself to pay nine cab drivers $100 each to block off the street outside the hotel, then, having ensured the road was well and truly blocked, proceeded to go back up to his room where he threw the entire contents out the window. He might have been the definition of a rock and roll icon, a star who was more than happy to trash an entire hotel room, but he made sure he wasn’t gonna harm any pedestrians whilst doing so.
Moon famously said about his ‘eccentricity’ and how it presented itself while on tour with the band. “When you’ve got money and you do the kind of things I get up to, people laugh and say that you’re eccentric,” adding “which is a polite way of saying you’re fucking mad.”
Speaking to GQ in 2018, Roger Daltrey spoke in great depth about what it was like to tour with ‘Moon the Loon’ and how he was a nightmare as well as a diamond rolled into one, “He lived his entire life as a fantasy, he was the funniest man I’ve ever known, but he was also the saddest; I’ve seen Keith in some terrible times. I saw him at his height, but then I saw him at his lowest.”
Adding: “He had an incredible talent but was completely uncontrollable. Not just a little bit uncontrollable, completely uncontrollable. So when it came to the things that he really wanted to do, like becoming an actor, he could do one take and it would be wonderful. But when you’re making a film you have to do that ten times and, of course, every take he did was completely and utterly different. But he was brilliant.”
It’s safe to say they simply don’t make them like Keith Moon anymore. A true rock and roll maverick who lived his life on his own terms, for better or worse. The Who have never really managed to recapture the same magnificence again since his death in 1978, and he now remains a legend in the ether of the golden age of rock.