24 January 2009
In memory of the gorgeous, talented, frantic, inspiring drummer who had a thing for Holiday Inns..
My mother met him years and years ago at Convention Hall in Asbury Park where she was lucky enough to see The Who in their heyday. She was sitting by the beach when suddenly Mr. Moon decided to run over to the ocean and take a swim with all his clothes on. My mother was starstruck and ran over to the dripping wet drummer and simply asked to shake his hand. She tells me he was very cordial and extremely funny (apparently he made some type of joke but she doesn't remember what it was). She said he had crazy eyes. Oh my. I love crazy eyes and dreamy faces. God Bless Him.
At 17, Moon joined The Who (in April 1964), a replacement for Doug Sandom. Without a drummer the remaining members hired a session drummer to fulfill shows they had agreed to play. Moon attended one of these shows. Pete Townshend described him as looking like a "ginger man" with his hair dyed ginger and wearing ginger-coloured clothes. As stated in Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who, Moon looked up to Roger Daltrey during the show and said "I hear you're looking for a drummer. Well, I'm much better than the one you've got." The band knew they needed Moon after seeing him practically smash the drum kit to pieces.
Early in The Who's career, live sets culminated in "auto destruction", members destroying their equipment in elaborate fashion, an act that was imitated by other bands and artists including Jimi Hendrix in his breakout performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Moon showed a zeal for this, kicking and smashing his drums. For a performance on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour television show, he loaded explosives into one of his kit's two bass drums. During the finale of "My Generation," he kicked the other drum off the riser and then set off the charge, singeing Townsend's hair and embedding a piece of cymbal in his arm (the blast has been speculated as starting Townshend's tinnitus). Another time, he filled clear acrylic drums with water and goldfish, playing them for a television appearance. When an audience member asked "What happens with your goldfish?" he replied with a grin, "Well I mean, you know...even the best drummers get hungry." Antics like these earned him the nicknames "Moon the Loon", and "Mad Moon".
His determination to add his voice to Who songs led other members to banish him from the studio when vocals were recorded. This led to a game, Moon sneaking in to join the singing. At the end of "Happy Jack," Townshend can be heard shouting "I saw you!" It is said that he noticed Moon trying to join in Moon can be heard singing on several tracks, including a section of "A Quick One While He's Away" (A Quick One, 1966), "Armenia City in the Sky" (The Who Sell Out, 1967), "Bell Boy" (Quadrophenia, 1973), "Pictures of Lily" (1967), "Instant Party Mixture" (My Generation Deluxe Edition, 1965), "Bucket T" and "Barbara Ann" (Ready Steady Who EP, 1966).
He was credited as composer of "I Need You," which he also sang, and the instrumental "Cobwebs and Strange" (from A Quick One, 1966), the single B-sides "In The City" (co-written by Moon and Entwistle), "Dogs Part Two" (1969) (sharing credits with Townshend's and Entwistle's dogs, Towser and Jason) and "Wasp Man" (1972), and "Girl's Eyes" (from The Who Sell Out sessions; featured on Thirty Years of Maximum R&B and a 1995 re-release of The Who Sell Out). He also co-composed the instrumental "The Ox" (from the debut album "My Generation") with Townshend, Entwistle and pianist Nicky Hopkins. "Tommy's Holiday Camp" (from Tommy) was credited to Moon, who suggested the action should take place in a holiday camp. The song was written by Townshend, and although many think Moon sings on the track, the version on the album is Townshend's demo. However Moon did sing it live and on the Tommy film. He also produced "Baba O'Riley"'s violin solo (which he had suggested), and was recorded by Dave Arbus, a friend.
Daltrey said Moon's drumming style held the band together; that Entwistle and Townshend "were like needles... and Keith was the wool."