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Keith Moon: the man behind the myth

In an exclusive extract from the new book Keith Moon: A Tribute, Kenney Jones, Pete Townshend, Richard Cole and Mick Avory remember The Who’s great drummer

The Friend

By Kenney Jones

Small Faces / Faces / The Who

“What's the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Keith Moon? The first thing is I wish he was still here. I wish I could pick up the phone and arrange to meet up with him this afternoon. Keith was a very close friend and he is very much missed.

“I saw Keith at the Buddy Holly film party and that night he was still fun to be around. We had this relationship where he would never take the piss out of me. We could sit and talk without him feeling like he needed to be on show. I mean, I saw plenty of Keith Moon ‘the showman’ too; you couldn’t stop him, it was in his genes. We talked frankly about things and about both of our new projects. I was just starting up a new band with a couple of American guys and he was very interested. We were both talking very enthusiastically about what each other was doing. I remember it being a very positive conversation. Then we went off to watch the film and then I saw him again in the foyer on the way out.

“The next morning I got up and turned on the TV and the news about Keith’s death was all over it. ‘Keith Moon found dead from a drug overdose.’ I didn’t believe it, I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was another one of Keith’s hoaxes. I just kept telling myself that it couldn’t be real. I mean I had only been with him a few hours earlier. But sure enough as the day developed, sure enough the news of Keith’s death was true.

“From what I could gather he had taken one of the pills that he was on, gone to sleep, then woke up and thinking it was the morning, he took another one and this was dangerous to the extent that it slowed his heart down, until it stopped. So in the end it was an indirect overdose of drugs that contributed to Keith’s death. Now they may have found some other bits and bobs in his body, but I must say he really was trying to keep himself together. And what I like to think is that he would have been on the road to recovery. I suspect he would have had a couple of relapses, because that was Keith, but I think he would have kept going in the right direction and made larger leaps as time passed. That’s what I like to believe.

“When The Small Faces had our first hit record, The Who had only had theirs a few months earlier. The press at the time thought it would be good if they made The Small Faces and The Who out to be rival bands. I think they based this on the fact that we were both from opposite ends of London. The funny thing was that because we were from the East End we thought anything outside of the East End was posh. So we thought The Who were posh. Little did we know what Shepherd’s Bush was really like.

“The press tried to paint some kind of picture about how both bands hated each other’s guts, but of course it wasn’t true. In actual fact it was the complete opposite and when both bands did meet up we all got on like a house on fire. Pete Townshend used to ring me up and ask me to play drums on some of his demos. At the time he was living in a little house in Twickenham and he had his equipment set up in a small room upstairs. There was a fireplace in the room and I used to put the bass drum in the fireplace so that the sound would go up the chimney and help keep the boom noise down a bit.

From the archive

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