It was 38 years ago today (September 7th, 1978) that the Who’s drummer Keith Moon died at age 32. Moon’s death, which was ruled accidental, was caused by an overdose of Heminevrin, a medication prescribed to help alleviate alcohol withdrawals, mixed with alcohol. According to police reports there were 32 pills found in Moon’s system, some of which were not yet dissolved. He died while staying in Harry Nilsson’s London apartment — which coincidentally was where “Mama” Cass Elliott had died four years earlier. Moon was survived by his daughter Mandy and his fiancee Annette Walter-Lax.
On August 18th, 1978, the Who released their final album with Moon, called Who Are You. Earlier that month, Moon and Pete Townshend appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America to promote the new album. Although Moon was bloated and heavily made up, he tried valiantly to offer a positive spin on the band’s future as a live act when asked if he still had the urge to tour: “Yes I would, I enjoy going out on the road very much. But only under certain circumstances and certain conditions. I like to play certain halls and certain towns. Y’know, do a few gigs in London, some in the States.”
Earlier this year, the first ever Keith Moon signature drumstick was issued. The stick has been produced by Vic Firth Co., which is the world’s largest and leading manufacturer of drumsticks and mallets, and according to the stick’s press release, “Moon was posthumously inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1982, becoming only the second rock drummer to be chosen. In 2011, Moon was voted the second-greatest drummer in history by a Rolling Stone readers’ poll.”
The new official drumstick was produced at the invitation and with the full cooperation from the Moon estate and matches the Who drummer’s exact specifications: “The Keith Moon Signature Stick is unique in its design with the combination of a medium shaft, fast-sloping medium taper and a length just short of 16 inches. Crafted in hickory with an oval wood tip, this stick packs plenty of punch when needed and can work in a variety of musical settings.”
Newly released is the latest biography on Moon, titled, Keith Moon: There is No Substitute, which was compiled by Ian Snowball with the authorization the Keith Moon Estate and Keith’s daughter Amanda de Wolf. Pete Townshend supplied the forward for the book.