The Day Keith Moon Died
Rock music lost one of its best drummers, and one of its most outlandish characters, when Keith Moon died on Sept. 7, 1978. The Who legend defined the term "one of a kind," not only in his ability and style behind the drum kit, but in his utter irreverence and over-the-top way of life.
Moon was born on Aug. 23, 1946. By the time he was in his teens, was already turning heads as a drummer. His joining the Who was nothing short of perfect. He added a much needed component to their equation, acting as the comic foil to the often very serious Pete Townshend. Moon's drumming style gave the music the chaotic edge it needed to stand out from the Who's contemporaries.
Unlike the subtle, yet effective, approach of contemporaries like Charlie Watts or Ringo Starr, Moon took an entirely different sensibility to the drum kit, inspiring countless future musicians along the way. Add bassist John Entwistle, and the Who had themselves a rhythm section with the range of an orchestra.
Moon's short, sweet life came to an end after a night of partying – and to be fair, a lifetime of testing his own limits. Ironically, his death was caused from an overdose of pills that were intended to combat his alcoholism. The medication was primarily a sedative, only a handful of which would have caused death. Police reports indicate that he took nearly a third of his 100-pill prescription.
"It was a silly mistake," said Townshend in the 2007 documentary Amazing Journey. "He just always took pills in handfuls. It was just a habit that he had." Heminevrin, the prescribed drug in question, disabled his esophagus. That prevented Moon from vomiting, and he suffocated.
While Moon was no stranger to chemical intake, he never hit on hard drugs, preferring alcohol and pills to be his demon. "He was never going to grow old gracefully," manager Bill Curbishley said. "I don't think he was destined to make old bones. I suppose he was designed in such a way to be remembered as he was."
Sadly, the band had just begun a new chapter in their career with the release of the Who Are You album just weeks prior to Moon's death. At the time, fans cryptically noted that on the cover, Moon is sitting on a chair that has the words "Not To Be Taken Away" stenciled on it.
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