Keith Moon was a notorious drummer. His main claim to fame was that he was the drummer for The Who, which was an incredibly well-known rock band. However, he was also known for his crazy antics on and off the stage.
He died young, which most musicians who knew him would have seen coming, but his influence on drumming has stayed strong since his death, seeing him included in many accolades alongside other world-famous drummers.
Here’s a quick breakdown of his life, drumming style, musical projects, and gear.
- Drumming for The Who
- Being one of the first few drummers to use two bass drums
- Trashing hotel rooms and drum kits on stage
- Eclectic drumming style
- Heavily influencing rock drumming
Keith Moon was born in London, and he was already demonstrating destructive behavior as a child. He wasn’t very good in school, so he enrolled in a trade school and eventually purchased his own drum set.
He took lessons to get better, and he was heavily influenced by Gene Krupa. Krupa’s overdramatic stage presence was something that he really liked, and he eventually ended up doing similar things on stage when playing.
He joined The Who at age 17 and continued to play with the band until he died at 32.
He played with a few other projects before and during his time with The Who, but none of them compared to the fame and notoriety he gained as the band’s drummer.
Unfortunately, he had drug and alcohol addictions, and those led to his death at a very young age.
Notable Artists That Drummer Keith Moon Has Worked With
Keith Moon joined The Who after sitting in with them at a gig. The band immediately liked him and asked him to quit his job to play a gig with them. He did that and continued playing with them until he died.
There’s a funny story that the band members tell of him not officially being asked to join the band. They joke that he only sat in for them for 15 years.
Keith Moon also sang and provided backing vocals for several songs that The Who recorded. When they performed on stage, he would often use his vocal microphone to crack jokes and cause mischief.
The Beachcombers were the band that Keith Moon regularly played with before he joined The Who. They were a cover band that performed regularly, but all the members also had day jobs to keep themselves going.
Keith Moon was friends with a few members of The Beatles. While he never played drums with the band, he did backing vocals for All You Need Is Love.
He also performed with John Lennon and The Plastic Ono Band after The Beatles had split up.
Keith Moon’s playing style was very eccentric. He always looked like he was having the best time behind the drum kit, but he also looked slightly deranged. His erratic movements would come out in the form of oddly placed drum fills and very loud cymbal shots.
This unique drumming style is what set him apart from everyone else at the time, and it’s still a style of drumming that you don’t see people adopt today.
He hated playing drum solos, which was a fresh approach compared to the other famous rock drummers that were performing at the time, but he made sure to make it look very exciting whenever he played.
You’d always see Keith Moon playing on massive drum kits when The Who performed live. He was actually one of the first few drummers to use two bass drums in his setup, influencing a whole generation of rock and metal drummers.
The two drum brands that he played were Premier and Ludwig, but he mainly played Ludwig sets toward the end of his career.
He then used Paiste and Zildjian cymbals, exclusively using Zildjian in his later years.
While he always played on high-end drum gear, he regularly trashed it during live shows. He was fond of explosives, and the most famous story is the one where he put too much flash powder in his bass drum to cause a big explosion when the band performed for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967.
His personality is arguably the most famous thing about Keith Moon. He was your typical example of a rockstar that was out of control. He loved trashing hotel rooms and smashing musical gear, and he was always using some sort of drug while doing it.
In the Netflix documentary, Count Me In, Ian Paice mentions that Keith Moon was the type of guy that always looked to be having fun, but you knew he wouldn’t live long enough to see retirement age.
Moon’s antics were certainly a crowd-pleaser, but they sadly led to his death in the end.
Who Are You
This was one of the last recordings that Keith Moon did before he died shortly after. This is one of the clearest videos where you can see his eclectic drumming style.
Even though it’s a studio recording, he’s still having the time of his life.
Drum Set Explosion
Here’s the clip of the event we mentioned earlier where Keith Moon took it a bit far with his explosive plan. He ended up with cymbal shrapnel in his arm after the explosion.
My Generation 1967
Here’s a clip of Keith Moon playing with the band in their earlier years. They were already big at the time, and it’s great to see a straightforward performance with them all playing together.
Final Thoughts on Keith Moon
Keith Moon is often regarded as one of the most influential rock drummers ever. He’s also known to be one of the craziest human beings to pick up a pair of drumsticks.
While his drumming wasn’t as technically brilliant as players like John Bonham and Ginger Baker, his presence on stage was always massive. He also wrote incredible drum parts for all of The Who’s songs.