Why is Keith Moon such a legend

Keith Moon for the seventieth, the wild clown among drummers

From Laf overland

He was considered the greatest rowdy in rock history: Keith Moon, drummer for The Who. (imago / stock & people)

Keith Moon is considered the greatest rowdy in rock history: The drummer of the rock group "The Who" stood for excesses and orgies of destruction on and off the stage, but also for virtuoso drumming. He would have turned 70 on August 23.

On his 21st birthday, The Who drummer Keith Moon lost an incisor when he ran away from a local sheriff at the Hotel Inn in Flint, Michigan and slipped on a piece of marzipan. Before that he had - accidentally, as fellow singer Roger Daltrey protested - sunk a Lincoln limousine in the hotel pool. Well, it can happen.

The fact that drummers have to endure a lot of ridicule goes back to the time of jazz combos, when they were at the bottom of the hierarchy. The genre of drumming jokes comes from that time, a very popular one is: You, I wrote a piece like that ...

Drums almost completely without hi-hats

Ringo Starr had also written this piece once. He's not a good songwriter at all, but he was the first famous pop drummer to introduce the drums as a serious instrument - gentle, melodic, stoic and yet accented.

Shortly afterwards, Keith Moon came along, and his approach was a little less sensitive: His drum kit gave the music of The Who this aggressive, chaotically tingling punch - almost completely without hi-hat, with constantly pounding double-bass drum and suddenly breaking out Tom-Tom Cascades.

The British rock band "The Who" (from left to right: Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, Keith Moon (Drums)) on September 26th, 1965 in Copenhagen (second from right not identified). (picture alliance / dpa / Erik Petersen)

In practice, Keith Moon is always playing a solo! With wild grimaces and all violence, he pounds his drums and cymbals almost simultaneously, it seems. And since he keeps throwing up while doing his fooling around, there are buckets to the right and left of the drum stool.

But "he sounds like more than the best drummer in rock history", once the US great critic Greil Marcus said, "he sounds like the only one."

A savage! An animal behind the shooting gallery! However, his power play did not stop after the performance, and the reports and legends of his failures populated the counters of rock fans for a long time.

The drums exploded with fireworks

Tradition seems quite fanciful that he nailed the furniture to the ceiling out of boredom on a US tour. What is true, however, is the thing about the firecrackers: Moon The Loon loved to throw TVs out of the windows and blow up hotel toilets with firecrackers - with cherry bombs, which have long since been illegal fireworks. And he also liked to put one or two of them in the foot drum and set them on fire.

At her first TV show in the USA, Moon packed ten times the amount of Cherry Bombs into his bass drum - which nobody knew - and thereby temporarily paralyzed the nationwide station at the end of "My Generation" made The Who famous in America with a bang!

A certain eccentricity in the form of joy in wildness cannot actually be denied to the species of gifted drummers: The wild drumbattles alone were sometimes high-performance sport with funny shows - and that since the jazz films with people like Gene Krupa ... (They were yes, too, who had induced young Moon to switch from the horn to the drums.)

The drummer as a tough, wild rock animal

And this Moon then contributed significantly to the emancipation of the drummer as a tough, wild rock animal. In the seventies it even happened that every second rock LP in the last, insanely long piece had a drum solo on page 2: probably at the end of the album, because women always quit when a drum solo came. That was before the alternate drum groups came up ...

And from that time comes the fallacy that drummers were crazy: They were all so on it, back then, when rock music and revolt against the decent establishment were one and drugs were part of the food.

Except that Keith Moon wasn't an overwhelmed rock star who occasionally went nuts; he actually had a lot of fun with his rascal pranks, in which he occasionally put intensive preparation. And some jokes were Monty Python-ready, for example when he disguised himself as a priest and shouted obscenities to old women in the street ...

Actually, this crazy drummer Keith Moon was a tender, dear clown and lively - only mostly under alcohol. When he died at 32, it was caused by an overdose of heminevrin - a psychotropic drug for alcohol withdrawal problems.