Keith Moon Hot Licks: Miraculous Thrashing

Keith Moon was the irrepressible force that helped The Who become one of the most important bands of the ’60s, alongside The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. His self-destructive antics are legendary, from his alcohol abuse, to passing out midway through a concert after taking horse tranquilizers, to the widely believed myth of him crashing a Rolls Royce into a swimming pool. He trashed homes, cars, hotel rooms, dropped explosives down toilets, and annihilated countless drum sets before he finally destroyed himself at the age of 32 by overdosing on medication ironically intended to help wean him off alcohol. His drumming style was tribal, primitive, and impulsive, with him often stomping the bass drums and pounding his wall of toms like a madman. Yet his drumming was often surprising and always made an impression. Moon’s contribution to The Who’s music and his influence on other drummers cannot be overstated. He was one of a kind. Here are some of his most memorable moments.

“I Can’t Explain”
from Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy
This Townsend-penned song was The Who’s first single, and first exposed the world to Moon’s aggressive style of drumming. Here he plays a groove that explores variations on a common ’60s twist beat, identified by its signature double snare hits. The track also reveals Moon’s tendency to stomp his bass drums during his fills to add more impact to them, which became a trademark of his drumming style.

“Who Are You”
from Who Are You
For the intro of this popular song, Moon plays an accented two-handed sixteenth-note hi-hat part. His play on the verse is notable, because while most drummers would use a more consistent pattern, Moon changes his from measure to measure. Surprise and spontaneity were strong characteristics of his drumming.

Please log in to comment.

Commenting is currently only available to the DRUM! community. Sign up today!.

  • Nice! Keith may have not been the best role model, but he was a great drummer. He played with heart, and every time he played he took you on a wild ride. Call it primitive if you want, but he changed rock drumming forever.

  • keith moon was a legend and will always remain one in the drum world. im just upset that his self destructive atitudes finally ended something that could of kept blowing mind’s for many years to come. HE is one of my favorate drummers even despite me not likeing the who !

  • I would like to be able to buy the complete transcripts of these songs. Are they available anywhere? Thanks for posting this.

  • Kieth was the king of rock drums back in his day..Once asked why he never does a solo He answered “everything I do is a solo” so true.. Lost before his time

  • Truer words have never been spoken.