The life and times of Keith Moon, the imperious drummer in The Who, is one marred in tragic lows and buoyed by ecstatic highs. A true rollercoaster career that would epitomise the folly of being a rock star, Moon has remained a tragic figure ever since. His life was a truly tumultuous ride.
It would be an undulating pattern that would see the late, great Moon’s life end far too early. Here, we’re taking a look back at Moon’s very last TV interview, just weeks before his death and reflecting on the devastating effect drink and drugs had on his life. It robbed him of his sparkling talent and pulsating personality.
Keith Moon gave the final TV interview to David Hartman, the anchor on Good Morning America, who had welcomed both of The Who’s formidable lunatics, Keith Moon and guitarist Pete Townshend, onto the show to promote their then-new album Who Are You. The interview would provide a sad image of one of the greatest drummers to have ever lived, ravaged by the excess he had so intently pursued.
That image is one that truly belies the drummer’s actual age of 32 and sees him look at least ten years older. Bloated, and above all else, broken by the abuse he welcomed on his body, Moon cuts a saddening figure of chemical dependency. As part of a two-person promotion team taking on both radio interviews and television appearances, Moon is clearly nearing the end of his tether as he is faced with a somewhat humourless Hartman.
After Moon, always trying to lighten any mood, made a joke about being out of control and Hartman, seeing his opportunity for an exclusive, pushed the drummer for further comment. “Are you in control of your life at all?” asks the host Hartman. “On certain days,” replies Moon, seemingly unsure of his answer and the road it will lead him. “Certain days? What are you like the other days?” asks the interviewer, likely very aware of the answer to come.
Moon’s reply may well have been a trite and funny remark when he was still a raging ragamuffin looking to party. But as an ageing (looking far older than his age) rock star, it was becoming a painful trope for the drummer to keep on working through. Moon replied: “Quite out of control. Amazingly…ah…drunk.”
It’s a statement that is desperately true and deeply painful. Sadly, this jovial attitude contributed to the drummer’s demise, as his partying was often shrugged off with a joke or smirk, a resignation to his fate as an archetypal rock star.
Moon was seemingly keen on getting over his substance abuse, however, and did try to get clean during the final months of his life. But even that offered its pitfalls and, in a tragic twist of fate, sadly led to his death after he took 32 clomethiazole tablets (a drug meant for help fighting alcohol withdrawals) and ended a life filled with tremendous highs and pitiful lows.
The Who, while finding ample replacement for the drummer, would never be the same again and the legend of Keith Moon would live on in infamy.
Watch below Keith Moon’s last interview in 1978.