He put a motorcycle in a pool. He destroyed his drums on stage. He once flung donkey poo at a school bus. And those are just the PG-rated parts of the Keith Moon legend.
For all his excess, the key to Keith Moon is not to focus on what he did, but what he played. Tony Williams once said that if all you could do is keep time, you might as well be a plumber. Keith, for sure, was no plumber. He was a colorist. He slung drum sounds the way Jackson Pollock slung paint. More than any drummer in rock, Moon was a lovely, deranged, melodic, one-man orchestral-percussion section. As often as not his patterns reflected the vocal and guitar lines, not the rhythm, making him the perfect foil for rock’s operatic muse, Pete Townshend. Even on the raw headbanging classic "Live At Leeds," you can hear how Moonie co-creates with the guitarist and leaves timekeeping to bassist Jon Entwistle.
Born August 24, 1947, Moon was the last piece of the puzzle in the making of The Who. Townshend and Entwistle had junked their jazz band to join Roger Daltrey’s group, The Detours, in 1962 (Daltrey was a guitarist at the time). Moon joined in ’64 — a couple of name changes later, they were The Who, and had released the punkish “My Generation” (with the classic sentiment, “Hope I die before I get old"). Moon took that advice more seriously than most, sadly, and his drumming had already begun to deteriorate by 1973, a casualty of his rock and roll–excess lifestyle. He died September 6, 1978 after taking a sedative he was using to cure his drinking.