On This day – Keith Moon

On this day in 1978 Keith Moon died. He overdosed on a drug called Heminevrin. Ironically this had been prescribed to help him over alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

“Moon the Loon” joined The Who in 1964 after Doug Samden left and played on all their albums from “My Generation” (1865) to “Who Are You” released just 2 weeks before his death. His style was not conventional, eschewing the traditional focus on back beats in favour of dramatic fast rolls across tom toms and cymbals. He was never still behind the drum kit, always looking to add drama and urgency into the songs.

Although a rock drummer of distinction it is for his destructive tendencies that Keith Moon seems to be mainly remembered. he had a fascination with destroying toilets. He used to blow them up with explosives starting with penny bangers (cherry bombs) and graduating to dynamite. So obsessed was he with blowing up toilets that he and the band were banned from several hotel chains and named hotels.

His most famous escapade, however, involved a car, not explosives. On the occasion of his 21st birthday (he was actually 20 but wanted to be able to drink in all the states in the USA, so, naturally he said it was his 21st). Moon was drunk and decided that what he really needed to do was to drive a car into a swimming pool. Variously said to be either a Cadillac or a Lincoln Continental it was this act, as well as serial toilet destruction incidents, that led Moon to be banned from the Holiday Inn chain, for life.

Keith Moon died after spending an evening with Paul and Linda McCartney. They had been to a preview of the film The Buddy Holly Story and then to dinner. After returning to their flat Moon and his girlfriend went to bed. Before going to bed Moon took 32 tablets of Clomethiazole (Heminevrin). This was prescribed drug to help Moon with alcohol withdrawal symptoms. He had been told by his doctor never to take more than 3 tablets in any 24 hour period.

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