Keith Moon Plays His Last Who Concert
Keith Moon played his final tour date with the Who on Oct. 21, 1976, at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. It was the final date on the band’s 1976 tour. Within two years, Moon would be found dead from an overdose of Heminevrin, a sedative used to combat his alcoholism. Though Moon would perform with the Who in a couple of special gigs filmed for use in the documentary, The Kids Are Alright, this would be his last official Who date.
After tours spotlighting mammoth works like Tommy and Quadrophenia, the 1976 trek was more of a back-to-basics jaunt and by most accounts, a truly rocking round of shows. The tour, however, was not without its share of incidents. The band crossed the U.K. and Europe before heading to the U.S. By the time the tour made it to the States, Moon had become ill, forcing the rescheduling of the opening date. Despite the drama, the band was still capable of the firepower that made it so great.
Moon embodied the spectacle and glory that made the Who such an amazing live act. In the early days, he and Pete Townshend would often try and one up each other’s stage antics. Townshend stated in The Kids Are Alright, “As soon as I started smashing something up, Keith, who’s a great sort of joiner-inner used to smash up his drum kit!”
“A lot of people really, really, really, have never understood how important Keith’s drumming style was to the Who,” said Roger Daltrey in the Classic Albums – Who’s Next DVD. “I kind of describe it as, if you imagine Pete and [bassist] John [Entwistle] as two knitting needles, and Keith was the ball of wool. He would kind of keep it all together.” Townshend added, “Keith Moon’s drumming was an expression of his personality and his ego and his grandiosity and his ridiculousness and his theatricality and his sense of humor.”
The band’s onetime manager Chris Stamp put it best: “He was, in a sense, the soul of the band.” Moon died Sept. 7, 1978, at age 32, and rock ‘n’ roll hasn’t been the same without him.
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This Day in Rock History: October 21