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Kenney Jones: Filling Keith Moon’s Shoes

Kenney Jones is tired of talking about Keith Moon. “He never did me any favors,” the former drummer for The Who, The Small Faces, and The Faces jokes, with only a hint of regret. His position is quite understandable, after Roger Daltrey called Kenney’s drumming “simplistic and stifling” in the July 1989 issue of Musician magazine.

From the moment that Kenney Jones was asked to become a full-fledged member of the Who following Moon’s death, he had to suffer unfair comparisons to the Who’s original drummer. As is now well known, tensions within the band led to Kenney’s eventual falling out with his former band members. But, he explains, his relationship with the Who hadn’t always been so strained:

“It wasn’t as socially difficult as people thought when I joined the band, because they were all good friends of mine. Over the years we had toured together when I was in The Small Faces. I’d also done some sessions for The Who privately, like the Quadrophenia film soundtrack.

“After Keith died, they didn’t want anyone to replace him because he was irreplaceable. He had his own style of drumming, which nobody could mimic, because he played thousands of mistakes that sounded great. But I’m more of straightforward, solid drummer. When I do a fill it’s noticeable, rather than being a permanent drum solo. So I thought that the best thing I could do was to play the way I play. That’s being honest.

“I tried to take the best of Keith Moon – all his great fills, which you have to do in certain songs – and use them selectively. But the style would finally be me. And that’s all I could do, I couldn’t do no more.

“But as far as Roger was concerned, I think he desperately missed the frantic, nutty playing of Keith. And he also missed his dynamic personality, because onstage Moon spoke to the audience and was a real personality. I couldn’t give anybody that, because I’m not that kind of person. I’m just me.

“It was two years after I joined the band that we started to make an album. Pete was writing material that was kind of weird – it wasn’t good enough for a Who album. We ended up sounding like The Who go Eagles. My drums were flat-sounding – typical Eagles drum sound. I tend to feel that everyone points the finger at me because the two albums we made [Face Dances, and It’s Hard] were not that great.

“Keith was a unique drummer. I especially liked him in the early ’60s when he was playing ’Can’t Explain ’ and that sort of stuff. He was playing a lot simpler and tighter on a smaller kit. When he got more and more outrageous, each time you’d see him he’d have more drums around his kit. That’s when he changed his style, really, from being simpler to just trying to justify his huge setup by bashing as many drums as possible. But I thought he was a great drummer and a great character. He was a very good friend of mine. I actually miss him and feel it’s sad that he’s no longer with The Who. The whole thing’s a bloody tragedy.”

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