NOT TO BE TAKEN AWAY: Moon The Loon, Gone Too Soon

BLOG OPERA? Even though we didn’t actually plan it this way, this essay commemorating the birthday yesterday of late, great Who drummer Keith Moon seems to tie in nicely as a thematically linked companion piece with our weekend post on “Who’s Next.” So, taking a page out of Pete’s playbook, we’ll offer it again here to make it a double album of sorts. In thinking about the style and substance of the man — who for so long seemed forever young of mind, temperament, and spirit and yet who suddenly grew sadly, cruelly, old so fast –I’m drawn to a line in one of the Who’s early compositions, “Substitute”: “The simple things you see are all complicated / I look bloody young but I’m just back-dated, yeah.” So is this piece, but pay no mind. Just add two years to Moonie’s would-be age and raise your glass to toast Rock’s Greatest Gonzo Drummer; a man who played his drums as fully, joyfully, and with the same furious sense of headlong abandon on stage, as he lived his life off of it.

RPM: Jonathan Perry's Life in Analog

The four-headed hydra at rest.  (L-R: Keith Moon, Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle). The four-headed hydra at rest. (L-R: Keith Moon, Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle).

Manic Moon Mauls Melody, pictures at 11. Manic Moon Mauls Melody, pictures at 11.

Don't even THINK about swiping my scotch Pete. Don’t even THINK about swiping my scotch Pete.

Before Keith tested whether his Lincoln Continental could swim in the hotel pool. Before Keith tested whether his Lincoln Continental could swim in the hotel pool.

Keith Moon builds a Premier fort of drums, circa 1967. Keith Moon builds a Premier fort of drums, circa 1967.

British bangers and mash, Who style: one voice, one guitar, one bass, one humongous drum kit. Add dynamite and stir. Serves a full house. British bangers and mash, Who style: one voice, one guitar, one bass, one humongous drum kit. Add dynamite and stir. Serves a full house.

The sound of a jet taking off? Nope, it's just The Who in full flight. The sound of a jet taking off? Nope, it’s just The Who in full flight.

Really? We blew out THAT many eardrums? Really? We blew out THAT many eardrums?

Keith's bass drum after a long day. Keith’s bass drum after a long day.

Keith Moon with his carry-on luggage at Heathrow Airport. Keith Moon with his carry-on luggage at Heathrow Airport.

Double Trouble: Moon and Pop out on the town in the 1970s. Double Trouble: Moon and Pop out on the town in the 1970s.

Better than a girlfriend: Playing the drums brings Keith's "O" face! Better than a girlfriend: Playing the drums brings Keith’s “O” face!

The court jester at work, mid '60s. The court jester at work, mid ’60s.

Not To Be Taken Away: The cover for the "Who Are You" LP, 1978, Keith's last photo session. Not To Be Taken Away: The…

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