September 7, 1978 – Keith Moon. The legendary drummer of The Who, Keith Moon, died from a drug overdose at the age of 32 on September 7, 1978. Keith John Moon was born to working class parents in Wembley, London, England, on the 23rd August, 1946. At the age of 12, he had joined the Sea Cadet Corp and was given his first musical instrument, the bugle. He left school by 15 and was in his first band, The Beachcombers; this was around the summer of 1963. There was rumour that Keith was self-taught, but history says otherwise, he was shown how to play by the late Carlo Little (1938-2005), Carlo was the original drummer in The Rolling Stones and David Sutch’s band, The Savages.
By the age of 18, he had joined a local London band, The High Numbers; this was to consist of what is now known as The Who.
With his own unique style of drumming, rolling the sticks along the skins as to banging the typical beat, he was to become extrovertly charismatic in his life as well as his playing. He was one of the first to play drums as a lead instrument in an era when drums were supposed only to keep the back beat. With a desire, more of an obsession, to be the center of attention, this hyperactive, and largely, self destructive personality became his own worst enemy.
With a flair for theatrical and ridiculous behavior, he was the center point and self-publicist for, if they liked it or not, The Who.
In the meantime, he had fathered a daughter, Mandy, to Kim. He may have been the perfect showman, but behind the scenes, he was often a very aggressive man to live around and with. Kim soon left him, taking their young daughter with her.
He started to live the high life in California, with the likes of John Lennon, Harry Nilsson and Ringo Starr. Ringo’s son, Zak, was his godson; ironically, it was Zak who played with The Who in their later career, during the nineties and beyond.
His on-stage aggression, destroying his drum kits while still playing them and wrecking hotel rooms, apart from being an obvious publicity stunt, was fuelled with an over use of drugs and alcohol. This addictive side to his nature flowed into the 70s, playing against the band, his family and friends. His drumming became irregular and unpredictable. He put on weight, so much so as to have him sit in a chair with the backrest toward the camera, to hide his paunch, on the cover of the last The Who album with Keith, the 1978 Who are You.
He died at age 32 on September 7th, 1978; his death was an accident, by the overuse of the prescribed medicine that was designed ease him off his drink addiction. He died in the same London apartment as Cass Elliot, from The Mamas and the Papas, who had died there some four years earlier. (overdose of heminevrin prescribed to combat alcoholism. A post-mortem confirmed there were 32 tablets in his system, 26 of which were undissolved).