People have told me I march to the beat of a different drummer. I’ve usually responded “Yes, I do. He was Keith Moon”.
The right people get the joke.
It was forty years ago today that Keith Moon died – too young, but also probably later than he should have.
I had just barely discovered The Who at the time. Pete Townsend was a self-obsessed overdramatic post-adolescent with a flair for the dramatic. And I was a self-obsessed overdramatic adolescent. It was a match made in heaven. Ask anyone I knew in high school – I was a Who fanatic.
And I don’t think I’m overstating it – The Who died forty years ago today. Townsend’s pompous mini-operas needed the raw, unpredictable, “what’s gonna happen next?” power of Moon’s inimitable style to seem like anything but the caterwauling of a guy griping about getting old without dying first.
Moon had been declining for a while, as his legendarily-dissipate lifestyle had been
Even close to his soggy, saggy, alcohol sotted, drug-sodden end, though, Moon still had distilled blasts of pure brilliance:
And the band onstage desperately needed the comic relief Moon provided.
Townsend, Roger Daltrey and (for another 25 years or so) John Entwistle played on, and even made the occasional good/great song. And Townsend made a couple of essential solo albums in the next decade and change – but those were written around the styles of different drummers. Great different drummers – Mark Brzeziczki, Simon Baker, Jason Bonham and a who’s who of other great British sidemen played on Townsend’s solo records, all of them superb in their own way.
But without Moon, The Who always felt like a nostalgia band.
The Kenny Jones edition of the band was the first big-time rock concert I ever attended, in October of ’82 at the old Saint Paul Civic Center (29th row tickets on the floor, $15). I loved the show – I loved the event, really – but for The Who, there really was no going back.