Who Drummer Keith Moon’s Cherry Bomb Antics Remembered On His 65th Birthday
Drummer Keith Moon of the Who would have been 65 years old today had he not died at the age of 32 in 1978. The band's most eccentric member is remembered as a wild and talented artist, perhaps the best rock drummer ever.
However, most conversations about Moon quickly steer toward his rock-star behavior. Has anyone in rock history ever been as destructive and reckless as Keith Moon? For example, in Pete Townshend's book 'Amazing Journey: The Life of Pete Townshend' the Who guitarist recalls the beginning stages of Moon's long-running war on porcelain fixtures:
“One day I was in Keith’s room and I said, ‘Could I use your bog?’ and he smiled and said, ‘Sure.’ I went in there and there was no toilet, just sort of an S bend, and I thought ‘Christ, what happened?’ He said, ‘Well this cherry bomb was about to go off in me hand and I threw it down the toilet to stop it going off.’ So I said, ‘Are they that powerful?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, it’s incredible!’ So I said, ‘How many of ‘em have you got?’ with fear in me eyes. He laughed and said, ‘Five hundred,’ and opened up a case full to the top with cherry bombs. And of course from that moment on we got thrown out of every hotel we ever stayed in.”
Eventually Moon would graduate to dropping dynamite down toilets, getting him banned from all Holiday Inn, Sheraton, and Hilton hotels, plus the entire city of Flint, Mich. There are plenty more tales of destruction to be told, but this is a birthday piece, and the tales of his drumming are equally legendary. Reportedly, the band had to strap down his tom drums to prevent them from bouncing around from the force of his blows.
On stage and off, 'Moon the Loon' contrasted the other, more stone-faced members of the Who with a mischievous smile across a boyish face. The video below, a performance of 'I Can See for Miles,' shows him at his best, pounding away on the drums with a power and precision that few have replicated since.
There are a few quirks to be pointed out. First, the band plays behind, not in front of, Moon's drum kit. Second, Townshend's white overalls seem to indicate he just finished up work on a house-painting crew. Most bizarre is how uninterested the audience seems to be. They dance like geriatrics at an nursing home.
Surely Moon, had he been allowed, would have had just the thing to put a little spring in their step. Instead of cherry bombs we recommend lighting 65 candles to celebrate Moon's birthday. Or just go listen to the 'Who Are You' album and remember him with a cold beer.