James Wood wrote a fine tribute to Keith Moon in the November 29th issue of The New Yorker. An abstract of the article is on their Web site but you'll have to subscribe or buy an issue to read the whole story. Basically it's a celebration of the childlike exuberance of hitting drums with sticks. Keith Moon was all about that.
I've always found him brilliant but apparently some critics have called him sloppy and ill-timed, even during The Who's glory years in the late 60s/early 70s. But I say, if The Who was an improvisational rock band who played with soul, vigor, wit and utter originality, then Keith Moon was technically perfect as their drummer. Wood mentions that you can hear isolated drum tracks of Moon on YouTube, and so you can. Let's listen in, shall we?
All together--like a rock orchestra.
Live. Wood says Moon never played a song the same way twice during concerts. He was thinking it up as he went.
Isolated drums from "Live at Leeds." I'm a drum geek--can you tell?
Everybody join in! My band mate and fellow drummer Suki mentioned to me once that Moon plays like a jazz musician. It's hard to imagine that when he's slapping everything around so, but she's right--he's improvising in fun and surprising ways.
These "Live at Leeds" snippets demonstrate why I'll always think of Moon as the "Mr. Personality" of rock drumming.
James Wood podcast on the antic spirit of drumming.
Keith Moon's self-destruction was legendary, causing his death at 32. Bruce Worden and Clare Cross bid a fond adieu in their picture book, Goodnight Keith Moon.