Keith Moon's greatest moments
February’s Rhythm features the great Keith Moon, as we celebrate 50 years of The Who and remember their unique founding sticksman with contributions from other Who drummers and those who knew and loved him.
We asked you on Facebook for some of your favourite ever Moonie moments – and here we present 10 of the best, with video footage! Enjoy!
Keith and The Who appeared on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour TV show on September 17th, 1967.
As if their performance of their establishment-baiting battle-cry ‘My Generation’ wasn’t enough to shake US TV audiences, Keith stuck a load of cherry bombs in his kit – something he was already in the habit of doing. But on this occasion, he’d packed several times the normal amount in, and as Pete Townshend set about smashing up his guitar, Keith began dismantling his kit in a way we wouldn’t recommend before triggering a super-loud explosion that singed Townshend’s hair, possibly caused his deafness and certainly shocked everyone else.
Won't Get Fooled Again
Surely one of Keith’s finest moments with The Who – from their 1971 album Who’s Next?. For starters, he’s playing along to sequenced tracks, something otherwise unheard of back then.
After the sequenced keyboards for 17 bars, Keith comes in with a crash on beat 1 then proceeds to fill around the kit before launching into the inventive main groove. Classic Moonie, made even more exciting by the fact that he never plays the same fill twice!
That'll Be The Day
Moonie plays the drummer in David Essex’s band, and steals every scene he’s in. As JD Clover, sticksman in fictional rock’n’roll band Stray Cats, he gets to hang with his mate Ringo Starr, who plays the band’s manager.
In a way, Keith’s chanelling Ringo himself, and though he appeared in the follow-up film Stardust, he was relegated to a minor bit-part. If he’d kept at it, we’re sure Keith could have made a secondary career as one of the great British character actors.
Yet another Who’s Next classic, the album’s opener once again makes pioneering use of sequencers and has the fantastic line 'Don't cry, don't raise your eye, it's only teenage wasteland’, which was apparently about acid casualties at Woodstock.
It was Keith’s idea to have a violin solo at the point where the song goes folky. Brilliant, from start to finish, and Keith never sounded better.
Who keeps goldfish in their drum kit? Keith Moon, that’s who! Taking advantage of the clear plastic Vistalite drums, Moonie decided to take his pet fish on tour with him. Quite what fishy though of Keith’s thunderous tom fills is anyone’s guess, but to the fish the fills were definitely different every time.
Live At Leeds
The Who’s most comprehensive live performance on record –one of the all-time great live recordings – features this track by jazz artist Mose Allison, which the band proceeded to make their own. The whole of Live At Leeds is, of course, well worth checking out.
Who Are You?
Recorded shortly before Keith’s tragic death, this video, shot in the studio, shows Keith still at his gurn-tastic, p**s-taking best as he thunders round the kit in his inimitable style. A clown till the end, it's one of the reasons he continues to inspire.
Behind Blue Eyes
Check out the way Keith comes in on this track – another classic from 1971’s Who’s Next? Beginning with acoustic guitar, with bass and ethereal keys building the atmosphere, it’s when Keith comes in with his pounding snare attack – or in the case of this live clip, the toms – that the track really kicks it.
Brilliant drum breaks and the classic reckless abandon for which Keith was known – it has always amazed us how close to a trainwreck Keith could sound, yet he never was, and it helped give his drumming – and the music of The Who A real edge.
Bassist John Entwistle’s signature track is also a superb demonstration of Moonie’s incredible drum talent. An instrumental and largely improvised track, ’The Ox’ was originally a B-side but appeared on the band’s debut album My Generation and stands as a classic.
Read more about Keith Moon in February's Rhythm!