On this day 8th March, 2009, A blue plaque in honour of The Who drummer Keith Moon was unveiled on the site of the Marquee Club in Soho, London, where in 1964 the band played the first of 29 gigs there. Fans on scooters turned up to pay tribute to Moon, who was 32 when he died of an accidental overdose in 1978. The blue plaque, which means the site is of historic importance, was awarded by the Heritage Foundation.
Moon’s drumming is outstanding throughout the group’s début album My Generation and on several Sixties singles, most notably ‘Happy Jack’ (1966) and ‘I Can See For Miles’ (1967), but it is on the double album Tommy (1969) that his talents are best utilised. On Townshend’s celebrated rock opera he becomes an orchestra within himself, driving the band along with an intelligence and sureness of touch that defies analysis. On Who’s Next (1971) Moon is reined in somewhat but his playing on the bridge on ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ and throughout both ‘Bargain’ and ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ ranks with anything he ever did.
He played quite differently to his peers, turning his massive kit into a lead instrument, and his up-front technique was crucial in establishing the Who’s passionate style. Its been said that Keith Moon was to the drums what Jimi Hendrix was to the guitar – a complete original. Moon’s kit was the biggest in rock, at one stage boasting at least 10 tom-toms, twin bass drums, twin timpani, snare, half-a-dozen cymbals and a gong.
Did Keith really drive that car into a hotel swimming pool? Well Roger Daltrey recently stated in an interview that the event did in fact take place, insisting: “It flaming well did happen, we got the $50,000 bill for it – he could have gone to jail for three years.”
According to the story, The Who were on tour and were at a Holiday Inn (from which they’ve subsequently been banned) in Flint, Michigan. It was the drummers 20th birthday, although it’s often reported it was his 21st (this was probably due to the fact you have to be 21 to drink in America). The day saw a party that begun in the morning and carried on right through to the evening, with several bands, groupies, roadies and stage crews in attendance, and all (particularly Moon) were highly inebriated. As the party got more and more out of control, the police were called to put an end to the festivities. Moon, ever keen to avoid the boys in blue snuck outside and got into a Lincoln Continental Limousine (or a Cadillac depending on who you believe) and attempted to make a getaway. Unfortunately, in his inebriated state he was unable to properly control the vehicle and as he released the handbrake, the car lurched backwards and began rolling towards the pool. Moon simply sat back and waited, as the car crashed through the fence around the pool and into the water.
Moon couldn’t drive and never had a drivers licence.As Moon came out of the car and back to the surface, he was greeted by a police sergeant holding a gun. You’d think with a gun in his face and a stomach full of pool chemicals he’d have given up, but even then Moon tried to run, eventually getting caught when he slipped, somewhat ironically, on some of his own birthday cake.
Keith died on September 7, 1978, from an accidental overdose of the prescription drug Heminevrin, prescribed to combat alcoholism. He died in the same flat in Curzon Place in London’s Mayfair (belonging to Harry Nilsson) that Mama Cass had passed away in during 1974.Keith died on September 7, 1978, from an accidental overdose of the prescription drug Heminevrin, prescribed to combat alcoholism. He died in the same flat in Curzon Place in London’s Mayfair (belonging to Harry Nilsson) that Mama Cass had passed away in during 1974.
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