Keith Moon, one of the great drummers in the annals of rock and roll history with his explosive and innovative backbeat for the original incarnation of The Who, died 35 years ago today on September 7, 1978 of a prescription drug overdose.
For Moon, it ended a life that was filled with what was basically a boilerplate for the excess that was surrounded by a glorious sense of attitudinal debauchery. Moon’s sex and wanton times, alcohol imbibing and drug ingesting manifested to the point of no return, was also filled with destructive behavior that included decimating hotel rooms and basically walking around and presenting himself and the world with an outgoing personality that definitely overshadowed the classic rock The Who was brewing up during his tenure with the band, but never surpassed it. Ultimately, it metaphorically caramelized and solidified an existence, albeit brief, of a man rightfully and ever so perceptively known affectionately as “Moon the Loon.”
Happy 68th Birthday today to one of the greats of rock and roll, British and otherwise, a true genius and original in his craft, who not only showed the world what he could do with an electric guitar, but what could also be done with the rock song itself in the way it could be elevated to operatic mythos and all its glories, the man, the leader of The Who, guitarist Pete Townshend.
It’s kind of incredible when you think about the work of Pete Townshend and the overall underrated kind of perception he and The Who have when it comes to one quickly rattling off the names of the great bands and musicians during the arguable golden age of electric rock and roll, the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s. For sure, there are a handful of Who songs that remain blended in with the all-time classics on compilations and classic rock radio and the like, but when you really take into account a band and a man who put so much craft, energy, scope, influence, and sweat and grit into the amount of work that made their bands what they are, Pete Townshend becomes a figurehead who towers high above the rest.
While on a flight recently, I caught an airing of VH1 Rock Honors – The Who, a 2008 tribute concert to the British classic rock band that featured performances by Incubus, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Flaming Lips, Adam Sandler, and Tenacious D. The surviving members of The Who — singer Roger Daltrey and guitarist Pete Townshend — also performed their hits “Baba O’Riley,” “Who Are You,” “Behind Blue Eyes,” and “My Generation.”
The entire concert is actually online at VH1, and you can watch it all here below.