Keith Moon, drummer for the English rock band the Who died in September 1978 aged 32 after overdosing on prescription medication. Acknowledged for his unique drumming style and eccentric, often self-destructive behaviour. Keith influenced countless drummers including Ginger Baker, Mitch Mitchell and John Bonham. Animal, the drummer from Dr Teeth and The Electric Mayhem (the house band from the Muppet Show) is reportedly based on him.
If the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom then Keith could be considered the lord of the wise. Dubbed “Moon the loon” Keith took copious quantities of alcohol and drugs, trashed hotel rooms including nailing all the furniture of a hotel room to the ceiling; blowing up toilet bowls with fireworks; driving his car into a swimming pool; and visiting London pubs dressed in full Nazi uniform.
Keith’s repeated practice of blowing up toilets with explosives led him to a life ban from several hotel chains worldwide, including all Holiday Inn, Sheraton, and Hilton hotels.
The Who’s early stage act relying on smashing instruments, and owing to Moon’s enthusiasm for damaging hotels, left the group in debt for much of the 1960s; Even when the band became relatively financially stable, Keith’s recklessness with money continued with his profit from the group’s 1975 UK tour reported to be £47.35.
During the 1970s Keith’s typical breakfast included sausages & eggs, a bottle of Champagne, a half a bottle of Corvoisier, and two Dexedrine tablets. Alice Cooper was astonished at Keith’s stamina recalling “he never got tired, and it wasn’t because of drugs necessarily, he was just one of those guys who never got tired. You’d be passing out and going ‘enough’ and he’d be going ‘let’s go out!”
In 1977 his intake of drugs and alcohol increased to a point that he overdosed a couple of times, however weeks of inpatient treatment failed to remedy his addiction.
Keith wanted to get sober but had a fear of psychiatric hospitals so chose to do it at home. A Doctor who was unaware of Keith’s lifestyle prescribed a bottle of 100 clomethiazole pills, which prevent symptoms of acute alcohol withdrawal, instructing him to take one pill when he felt a craving for alcohol but not more than three pills per day. Chlomethiazole is particularly toxic and alcohol multiplies this effect meaning an overdose and can be potentially fatal.
On the night before he died Keith and his girlfriend returned to their flat after socialising with friends. Keith watched a film and feeling hungry asked his girlfriend, to cook him steak and eggs; she refused, Keith is reported to have replied “If you don’t like it, you can fuck off!” – his last words.
Keith then took 32 clomethiazole tablets. When his girlfriend checked on him the following day, Keith was dead. In an interesting coincidence Keith was renting Harry Nilsson’s flat in Mayfair where Cass Elliot had died four years earlier.
Keith was divorced from the mother of his only child; he was living with his girlfriend of 3 years when he died. In the United Kingdom in 1978 when someone died intestate leaving a spouse and children the spouse would take the first £250,000 and personal belongings and is entitled to use the property of the estate or to receive its income until their own death at which point the property passes to the deceased’s children who take the other half of the balance upon the death of the intestate.
Keith’s estate is worth $70million and is managed by Artists Legacy Group. If Keith had created a Will it would have made a difficult time for his loved ones somewhat easier.