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Buddy Rich
Neil Peart
John Bonham
Steve Gadd
Ringo Starr
Keith Moon
Carl Palmer
Gene Krupa
Max Roach
Elvin Jones
Ginger Baker
Billy Cobham
Stewart Copeland
Dennis Chambers
Jaki Leibezeit
Terry Bozzio
Bill Bruford
Hal Blaine
Mike Portnoy

Drummer Database

Keith Moon

Name - Keith | Born - 08/1946 | Nationality - British | Genre - Rock

Keith Moon is a drumming legend for sure. Famous for his crazy, and animated drumming style as well as his fun-loving and enthusiastic personality.

However, it is often his personality that people remember when they think of Keith. After all, he did make a pretty big impression.

His exploits include drinking huge amounts of alcohol, not going to bed for days at a time, taking off all his clothes in airports and on tv, trashing hotel rooms, throwing tv's through windows, and being generally ecentric and quick witted.

But, his playing and contribution to music shouldn't be underestimated. He redefined what a being a rock drummer was all about with his patterns, fills, and rolls. His creativity pushed the boundaries, and he wasn't afraid to do or try anything that came to mind.

When he was aksed to give advice to people taking up the drums, Keith famously said "Learn Guitar". Let's have a closer look...


Moon playing live with The Who, friends and fans discuss his life and drumming, and a rare drum solo.


Keith was born on August 23 1946, in Wembley, England. He was brought up in London and was joined by a sister, Linda, when he was 3. At age 12, another sister, Lesley, came along and it was at this time that Keith's musical ability and Hyperactivity was noted by his school teacher.

A year later at age 13, Keith joined the sea cadets and put his musical talent to good use by taking up the trumpet. He didn't stick with it long though, and was quickly drawn to playing the bass drum. He soon became obsessed with everything and anything to do with drums.

Keith later mentioned that his drumming heroes at this time included Gene Krupa, Jo Jones, and Buddy Rich. He loved the seeing the the stick twirling, and showmanship that these and other players used to wow their audiences with. Something that Keith wouldn't lack in years to come.

A couple of years later in 1961, Keith got his first drum set - a pearl blue Premier. He practiced playing by himslef for a year or so and learned the basics. Then in 1962, he managed to get lessons from The Savages wild drummer, Carlo Little, after seeing him play at the Oldfield Hotel music club.

Later that year, with some drumming technique under his belt, Keith decided he wanted to join a band. He found an oppotunity with a group called The Escorts.

A member of the band recalled how outrageous Keith's playing style was, and what a great character he was too. He also described Keith as being a mad genius because he was thrashing around all over the drum set, but it somehow worked.

By the end of the year, Keith was ready to move on, and had responded to an ad to become the drummer for The Beachcombers. When playing with the band, Keith played his set so furiously that it had to be secured to the stage with ropes to stop it moving mid-gig. He was developing an increasingly manic stage presence that was thrilling to see and it was getting him attention - something he enjoyed.

By 1963, Moon was getting heavily into surf music and would import American records by The Beach Boys, The Chantays and others. While playing with he The Beachcombers he worked answering phones and processing sales orders. But, working a 9-5 job wasn't for Keith, and he was eager to play drums for a living.

During early 1964, London based band The Who were going to sack their current drummer Doug Sandom because an interested record company wouldn't give them a deal without a better drummer in place. The group already had a following and needed a replacement quick.

Keith and a friend went to see the band play one evening at the Oldfield Club. Apparantley, Keith's friend went up to the club's promoter Richard Barnes and said that Keith could do a better job on drums. Richard surgested that Keith went up and played a song after the interval. The Who couldn't believe it when Keith went up wearing an all orange suit, orange shoes, with his hair dyed orange and pounded the drums in his crazy style. He was in.

He played for both The Who and The Beachcombers for two weeks until The Beachcombers found a replacement. As much as Keith seemed to fit with The Who, his dad Alf, wasn't at all happy that his son was playing with this much wilder band.

The Who

But, that didn't stop Keith. With The Who, he followed guitarist Pete Townsend's example by smashing up his instrument after gigs. It soon became a feature of their shows, and got them noticed. Big time.

As the band progressed and grew in popularity, they began a residency playing at the now famous Marquee Club in London.

It was shortly after this that they signed a record deal and started there ascent to the top of the rock ladder.

The piercing vocals of Roger Daltrey, and intense guitar playing of Pete Townsend, were matched by the crazed, enthusiastic style of Keith's drumming. And, it was all held in place by John Entwistle's solid bass. A brilliant combination.

In 1965, their first album My Generation was released. Keith demonstrated some excellent drumming on the record, especially on the track - The Ox. In the next year, the band released Substitute which heavy drinking Keith couldn't even remember recording. His already unusual life was starting to become more hetic.

During this time, Keith decided to expand his already large drum set from a single bass drum 7-piece to a bigger 9-piece with double bass drums, and he stopped playing hi-hats at all, instead using crash and ride cymbals along with the bass drums to keep a pulse.

A couple of years later, the young Keith had now cemented his reputation as being one of the top rock drummers around, and The Who were hugely successful. He was now playing on a kit made for him by Premier - the famous Spirit of Lily set.

With success and money now his, Keith celebrated his 21st birthday on August 23 1967, He had a now legendary party with many friends and stars attending.

Keith claimed the event involved him driving a car into a swimming pool, and getting a lifetime ban from the Holiday Inn. Partly fact, partly fiction.

One thing for sure, was that he also tripped over and knocked out one of his teeth during the evening. He then spent the remainder of the night getting it fixed at a dentist. Nice.

Success with the Who continued, as they released Quick One in 1966, Sell Out in 1967, and the double album Tommy in 1969. Keith's stand out performances on the album include Amazing Journey/Sparks, Underture, and Smash the Mirror. Later in 1969, the Who played at Woodstock, but were slated for their poor performance. Still, Keith's playing was noted as being very good, despite the rest of the band.

In Janruary 1970, Keith was involved in a tragic event - the death of his driver Neil Boland. A gang of Skinheads were attacking Keith's Bentley, while Boland was outside of the car attempting to clear an exit. Keith, behind the wheel, hit the accelerator and accidently ran over Boland who was killed. After this, Keith became very depressed and said that he would always have Bolands death on his conscience. Many people have said that keith wasn't the same again.

Later in 1970, the Who recorded the live album Live at Leeds which many believe is one of the best demonstrations of what live rock 'n' roll is all about. This was thanks in no small part to Keith's powerful performance. A year later, Frank Zapper offered Keith an acting role in his film, 200 Motels. Keith enjoyed the experience very much and decided he wanted to become an actor too.

Moon In The Studio

The album Who's Next was released in 1971 with yet more extravagant drumming by Moon.

And in 1972, he returned to acting in the movie That'll Be The Day. Later, he also played the part of Uncle Ernie in a theatre production of Tommy.

With the world becoming more and more interested in the wild man of rock, the BBC recorded Life with the Moons in 1973.

This was Moon telling a collection of jokes, doing routines, and playing a bunch of his favorite music. It all showed off Keith's crazy and fun loving personality to an eager audience.

Later on in 1973, The Who released yet another album Quadrophenia which includes Keith singing on the track Bell Boy, as well as giving good drumming performances on The Real Me, and Love Reign O'er Me. Keith had a scare during a tour in November 1973 when he collapsed whilst on the San Francisco leg due to exhaustion from his relentless partying, drinking, drug taking, and little sleep. Keith wasn't in control of his life and it was starting to effect his family and the band.

Keith continued his acting in 1974 by appearing as Uncle Ernie in the movie version of Tommy, and he was also in Stardust which was the sequal to That'll Be The Day. It's also about this time that Keith famously rented a beach house in Santa Monica with Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and Harry Nilsson where Keith's appitite for non-stop fun, and drink continued. His popularity in the US was something Keith liked to use to his advantage, and he loved the attention.

Following this, Keith decided to move out to live in Los Angeles permanently where he wanted to pursue his acting career further. The rest of The Who weren't too happy about it as the distance made it difficult for the band to work. The other band members had all done some solo projects so Keith wanted to record his own solo album too, and in 1975, he released - Two Sides of the Moon. It featured Keith singing all the tracks including an original song by John Lennon. He got musicians from whatever bands were also in the recording studios at the time to help him and play on the record, but unfortunately it wasn't very successful.

By the end of 1975, The Who had managed to get back together and released another album called The Who by Numbers. Keith's stand out tracks include In Hand Or Face, Dreaming From The Waist, and Success Story. A couple of years later, another album followed - Who Are You, which was the last album that Keith Moon played on with The Who, as his chaotic life was about to take a turn for the worse.

After having spent most of his time in the US getting hugely drunk, partying with his rock star friends, and spending a small fortune, Keith returned to the UK with little money left, looking overweight and a shadow of his former self. His out of control lifestyle had caught up with him and taken it's toll. Sadly, in September 1978, after attending a party hosted by Paul and Linda McCartney, Moon took an overdose of a prescription drug and died in his sleep. He left behind him a legacy, and an army of fans that is as strong now as the day he passed away.

Keith was a great rock drummer, he is not only remembered as one of the greatest characters in rock drumming, but also as one the greastest characters in all of rock music ever. Truly unique.


Drums - Premier | Cymbals - Paiste

Moon's Set up

Keith's set-up has changed a bit over the years, but probably his most memorable set-up was a Premier kit made for him in 1965 - the famous 'Spirit of Lily'.

It included two 14"x22" inch bass drums, three 8"x14" mounted toms, two 16"x16" floor toms, a 5"x14" Ludwig Supraphonic metal snare drum, and occasionally an extra floor tom, usually 16"x18".

In 1973, Moon added a second row of tom-toms (first four, then six) and, in 1975, two more timbales to his set-up. This really made his set quite big, but it suited his manic style well.

As for cymbals, Keith often used two 18" Paiste crashes and a 20" ride. He stopped using hi-hats all together, and just used his cymbals and double bass drums to keep a pulse.


Click to enlarge (opens in new window)

Keith playing live Keith posing Keith's huge kit Live outdoors Nice coat! Keith with The Who
Keith in the studio In the studio Keith playing live An action shot
Having a smoke Keith in London Keith recording with The Who Keith in the early days Confused Keith?

Selected Discography

* My Generation (The Who)

* A Quick One (The Who)

* The Who Sell Out (The Who)

* Tommy (The Who)

* Who's Next (The Who)

* Quadrophenia (The Who)

* Two Sides Of The moon (Moon)

* Live At Leeds (The Who)

* The Who by Numbers (The Who)

* Who Are You (The Who)

Books and Dvd's

* Dear Boy: The Life Of Keith (Book)

* Moon: The Life & Death Of A Rock Legend (Book)

* Keith Moon Stole My Lipstick (Book)

* The Who: The Kids Are Alright (Dvd)

Keith Has Played With...

* The Who

* Pete Townshend

* Roger Daltrey

* John Entwistle

* The Beachcombers

* Jeff Beck

* Dave Carlsen

* Bo Diddley

* Flash Fearless

* Roy Harper

* Mike Heron

* John Lennon

* Nilsson

* Screaming Lord Sutch

* The Beatles

* And More...


"I told people I was a drummer before I even had a set, I was a mental drummer."

"My friends call Keith, but your can call me John."

"I was a rust repairer. I was a rust repairer and full-time survivor. I survived all the major earthquakes, and the Titanic, and several air crash."

Keith talking about his solo album - "I didn't feel any pressure to do it, it was know...a sort of drunken night at the whiskey-a-go-go in Los Angeles. I mean only one, I don't do it every night, I have sundays off...'cos they're closed."

Keith accepting an award on behalf of the Beatles:- "I've got a telegram from the lads...'We finally made it Keith. And everybody that has given us this prestigious award is enhanced by the beauty of your receiving it for us.' I've got an open invitation to any other houses, so afterwards the best looking in the audience will be selected and will be going there for a late luncheon and an early breakfast."

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