Before The Ice Age, There Was A Keith Moon


It’s Keith Moon week at The Truth Barrier. So is next week.

I figured we need a little break from my relentless bludgeoning. So I searched for a clip I longed to watch, of Keith doing such a cute little dance, to this song from Tommy.

He was a warm, desperate, brilliant soul, and the more I watch his comedy, the more I realize he could easily have been a Robin Williams, a comedic juggernaut, but he was assigned by the gods to be the drummer of the Who, and to blow out Pete’s left ear with actual explosives on live television.

I do think Keith was genuinely insane, and if you listen to his drumming and try to understand what is going on between Keith Moon and what we call “time,” you may discover that he played outside of “time,” and outside of possibility.  Like some people can actually fly. My mother told me that about Nureyev. She said he hung in the air.

I interviewed Pete Townshend in 1993, at great great length, mostly about Tommy. A lot about Tommy anyway. SPIN magazine published a feature, two years later (when I finally finished transcribing it) and I have been meaning ever since to publish outtakes.

But like I said, it’s Keith Moon Week!

7 thoughts on “Before The Ice Age, There Was A Keith Moon”

  1. My first exposure to the Whom, (my pet name for them) was watching ‘The Kids Are Alright’ (the one about the who, not the one about the lesbian couple) on Nightflight back when I was 12.

    I was instantly blown away. Keith Moon was so captivating to watch even while lip syncing.

    But then you’d see them actually playing live and his playing didn’t make any more sense.

    You’d hear this drum roll and his hands would be above his head. Turns out he was using the double bass drums to do a drum roll.

    He’s a force of nature.

    1. John,

      This appreciation you sent me was very helpful to me. Thank you. I love the conversation that has emerged from it. I need to remember the aspects of this life journey outside the War Of Continuation. I’m not such a serious and grave person, at heart, and I want us all to remember laughter.

  2. One of The Who’s concerts I attended in ’73, ’74, or ’75 (can’t recall the date, exactly, due to the irrelevance of dates and times at that age, and with that much THC replacing all other brain atoms and molecules), it was the only concert I’ve ever been to which required me to rip out the lining of the pockets of the coat I was wearing on that winter day at L.A.’s Forum, to cram that lining into my ears, for some measure of relief from the explosively, horrendously disorienting sound volume.

    Withput the pocket liners stuffed as tight and as deep as humanly possible, into my ear canals, the sound really, truly felt like it was going to crush and melt and vaporize my whole head at any instant.

    I’ve never experienced that ominous physical feeling of imminent annihilation, in any other setting, at any other moment in my life.

    Being a drummer at that time, my visual focus that night was exclusively on Moon.

    I loved that guy. I felt a kinship with his unabashed, unsophisicated, unruly, un-“manly” relaxing within the persona of the clownish, de-sexualized rock-drumming nerd in a sea of pretty-boy, image-obsessed rock prima donnas.

    “Before the ice age, there was a Keith Moon.” Warm memories, for sure: Dust of Moon’s hot desert sandstorms on a different planet too close to the sun. He’s never gone. Never far away from this unruly rebel’s heart.

    I join you in the toast.

      1. I would be too, brother Stephan, if I’d missed that concert. It sold out in slightly more than an hour after tickets went on sale. Myself and a few friends paid another friend to camp-out at the Forum’s ticket office starting two days before sales began. Also, I did find the correct dates, just for triva’s sake. There were Who concerts at the Forum on successive nights: November 22nd and 23rd, of 1973. I have no recollection of which one I went to. The set list is one of the first Google results you get, when you search for “the who at forum 1973”, in case you’re idly curious about such a thing. Buenos dias, hombre.

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