Keith Moon: One-Man Wrecking Crew

Keith Moon, whose death has shaken the rock world, spoke to Rolling Stone in 1972

keith moon one man wrecking crew
Michael Putland/Getty Images
Keith Moon outside the BBC Broadcasting House in London.
By |

The who were one of Rolling Stone's original favorite bands. I saw them at their American debut at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and later that year at the Cow Palace in San Francisco (after which I interviewed Pete Townshend for the fourth issue of RS). I got to know Keith Moon through Pete, mainly backstage and at postconcert raveups. But I first met Keith through a bit part in a typical drama – rounding up my own doctor to minister to Moonie at the last minute so he could go on with the show.

Keith was one of the sweetest people ever, then and on every occasion thereafter. His fearsome reputation as a total raver was deserved, but there never was anything precious or phony about him, never anything that wasn't devoted to his love of the good times. No one can recall anything he did with ill wil. And all who knew him, especially his fellow musicians, thought him one of the true princes.

Keith Moon: Different Drummer

My last encounter with Keith was on the set of the Rolling Stone television special. Our writers had come up with a rock-star-destroys-hotel-room sketch, and I suggested Keith. Through two days of rehearsals, a sober Moon went through costuming, script readings and other professional tedium – to the trembling amazement of the pros, who had feared that he would sink the network and cremate their careers. But I had taken Keith aside on the first day and told him, 'On the day of the actual filming, let go, do whatever you want.' And of course he did, and would have no matter what I had said. It was the classic take on the thing he loved most, next to music. Amid the soapsuds and broken furniture, the studio audience, technicians, cameramen and censors all were totally, lovingly taken into a moment of laughter and happiness that no one will ever forget.

That was Keith Moon. He did that for everyone who ever had the pleasure of his company. Keith did not share his agony, whatever it was, so it is hard to think of him and his death in terms of tragedy and terror. I think he lived a happy life; we will miss him because he was a good man.

Keith Moon Bites Back

In 1972 we published a long interview with Keith done by Jerry Hopkins, one of the RS originals. The following is a short excerpt that fairly represents the full talk and shows that, more than any other single rock & roller of our time, it was Keith Moon who seemed to be loving every minute of it, having a great time.

Read the full story here.

This story is from the October 19th, 1978 issue of Rolling Stone.

From The Archives Issue 276: October 19, 1978