The Beachcombers although often referred to as a close harmony surf band, actually used to 'belt out' some hard Rock 'n' Roll tunes. The close harmony 'Beach Boys' numbers were performed at the end of the evening. The obligatory 'slow dance' songs. However, Keith loved surf music and it would remain a personal preference throughout his life. His drumming had such a character of it's own that Keith was regularly told to calm down and stop playing so loud! Keith had a variety of jobs ranging from an apprentice electrician to a plaster salesmen.
I had been informed that around this time, The Beachcombers released their only record, 'Mad Goose' on the EMI label, and joined the same club circuit as another group of the time; The Who. However, I have been reliably informed that the single was never released as the band was on the verge of winding up. Wild stories about this group who destroyed their equipment at the end of their shows were abundant in London at the time. When Keith heard that The Who were auditioning for a new drummer, he set his heart on joining them. In fact, it was the lead singer of The Beachcombers who suggested to Keith to audition for the role of drummer with The Who.
The Who were auditioning at The Oldfield Hotel in Greenford, so Keith and his mum made the trip to the audition. Keith walked up to Pete Townshend who had just finished a set and stood at the bar with Roger Daltrey. "I can do better than 'im" Keith said. "OK, can you play Roadrunner?" asked Pete. Keith could, and with a couple of large drinks inside him, dressed head to toe in orange, Keith took his place behind the drums onstage. In Keiths words " I just went up on stage and went aaaaaarrrrrrGGGGGGGHHHHH!" Keith broke the Bass pedal and two drum skins. He left the stage scared. " I thought that would be it" Keith said some years later. However, Roger Daltrey approached him and asked what he was doing the following Monday. Keith replied "Nothing." "OK" said Roger, "I'll pick you up in the van at seven...you'll have to give up work." Keith replied "All right, I'll pack in work." And that was it..Keith was in. His mother on the way back home offered Keith some wise words of wisdom "Don't expect too much will you, success in the pop world is like winning the pools." Later on in his career, Keith would joke that he had never been asked to join The Who, so he wasn't really sure if he was a
member of the band. " All they said was we'll pick you up at seven.......I sort of knew I was in the band by instinct."
It's Only Rock 'n' Roll;
Within months of joining, Keith proved that he was 'the missing link' in the band. His style of drumming suited The Who to a tee. When Pete Townshend started to smash his guitars on stage, Keith immediately began to join in. In the early days, onlookers thought that Keith was very shy, not happy unless he was onstage performing, or off stage performing to his new friends. Onlookers saw that Keith relied on his 'looning' to get people laughing and so, be on his side. Keith married in secret to Kim Kerrigan, an ex-model. Friends of both thought it was truly a 'match made in heaven' they were very much in love.
The Who became bigger and bigger which gave Keith the funds to carry on with his wild ways, always for a laugh though. His hotel, car, plane and drum kit wrecking are world famous. Many times throughout his career hotels refused admission to The Who as his reputation went before him. Keith began to drink and take more drugs. At one Who venue, Keith took a handful of purple hearts, an amphetamine. Moments later he had collapsed at his drum kit and taken to hospital. In a few of the early appearances of The Who on television, it is clear to see that Keith 'is not there'. His drumming was faultless...but the empty stare gives everything away. Keith released a less than successful solo album, 'Two Sides Of The Moon' and appeared in a couple of films; 'That'll Be The Day' and 'Stardust' where his legendary mooning continued. For a while, Keith and Kim shared a flat where they had a daughter Mandy. They then bought a house 'Tara' where Keith instructed that it should be a permanent party. Every room had it's own stereo which blasted out different music. Many, many wild parties were to be held at 'Tara' with many celebrities helping Keith get through many bottles of champagne and brandy. Keith's drinking had become a serious problem. He had regular arguments with Kim and broke her nose on three occasions. One afternoon he chased Kim around the grounds at 'Tara' with a loaded shot gun. She was terrified and soon, Kim left him.
Keith was losing it. He was in and out of re-hab on several occasions. Even the members of The Who had noticed the fact that his drumming was suffering too. Keith moved to America for a short period and bought a beach house at Trancas, Los Angeles. He took with him, his new girlfriend Annette Walter-Lax. His drinking and drug taking continued to the extent that one evening, Annette had to call round to a neighbours house for help. Larry Hagman, of Dallas fame, came round to Keiths house to find him in a 'fairly' normal state. " I hear you're having a bit of a problem here?" Hagman enquired. "Yes, I was wondering if you could take me to
re-hab dear boy?" was Keiths reply.
The Who were becoming more and more frustrated with Keith. His stay in America had made itvery difficult for The Who to produce another studio album. Roger was almost convinced that Keith should leave the band. However, Keith returned to the U.K and rented a flat, with Annette, in London's Mayfair.
Although Keith was back in the UK after his scare in America, his looning continued. On stage with The Who, he was still untouchable but everyone noticed how unfit and out of condition Keith had become.
The last studio album by The Who, with Keith on drums, was Who Are You. His drumming on the album was the original Keith Moons brilliance. Rehearsals however were fraught with Keith being late to sessions and days where his drumming did not come up to scratch. Ironically, the picture on the front of the album has Keith sat on a chair while the other members of the group stand round him. Stencilled on the chair is: 'Not To Be Taken Away' A month later, Keith would be dead.
In honour of Buddy Holly's birthday, Keith attended an evening with Paul McCartney and his wife Linda, Kenny Jones, who would later replace Keith, David Frost as well as other celebrities for the premiere of 'The Buddy Holly Story.' Keith was excellent company and very charming. Quieter than usual. Mid-way through the midnight screening, Keith left the show along with Annette, returning to his flat. He sat and watched 'The Abominable Dr. Phibes' on video before making a sandwich and taking some of his anti-alcohol medication. Keith woke up during the night and took more medication. Annette woke the next morning , the 7th of September 1978, to find Keith was in bed in the next room. The house was completely silent. She knew......Keith had passed away. Keith Moon had accidentally overdosed on the medication that was to be helping him over his alcohol addiction. His family, members of The Who and friends were told about his tragic death. Everyone was stunned. The wild man of rock, once regarded as indestructible was dead. Tributes came in from all over the World.