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Week in Rock History: Keith Moon Dies

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September 7, 1978: Keith Moon dies of a drug overdose
The drummer of the Who was an innovative drummer and an even more accomplished madman. His heavy, intense percussion managed to be suspenseful and tactful, and it anchored the rock band’s biggest hits in a momentum all their own; his enthusiastic abandon helped redefine rock & roll in the 1970s as a genre of experimental bombast and also of joy.

Moon was infamous for his debauchery: he fired explosives in hotel room toilets, smashed drum sets to pieces, smashed his front tooth while diving into an empty swimming pool and basically followed his id into danger countless times. He abused drugs and alcohol to the extent that they started unmooring his performances on the band’s 1973 Quadrophenia tour.

On the evening of September 6, 1978, shortly after the release of the Who album Who Are You, Moon accompanied Paul McCartney to a screening of The Buddy Holly Story. He then spent the night with his girlfriend at singer Harry Nilsson’s house in London and overdosed on a sedative that his doctor had prescribed him for his alcohol withdrawal symptoms. He was 32.

September 9, 2003: Simon and Garfunkel announce a reunion tour
Simon and Garfunkel had been disbanded for 20 less-than-amicable years when they announced their plans for a reunion road trip. Called the Old Friends tour, it was based on one of the most sentimental tracks on their resoundingly successful 1968 album, Bookends. The announcement followed their performance of "The Sound of Silence" at the Grammy Awards on February 23rd, 2003, their first appearance together in a decade; they also received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement award that evening. 

The Old Friends tour spanned forty shows across the United States and Canada from October 16th through December 21st, 2003. The duo repeatedly played the rarities "Hey, Schoolgirl" and "Leaves That Are Green," and the reception was so overwhelming (not least financially) that the pair reconvened for a European extension tour in the summer of 2004. The final show of that leg was held in the Coliseum in Rome, one of their largest audiences ever.

LAST WEEK: U2 Releases Debut EP

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Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

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