"That film was the only time I saw the way Krupa worked- all that juggling. (...) Gene Krupa, Jo Jones, Buddy Rich - to me they were the best. I'd see a big band with a double bass drum setup, twirling the sticks, all the theatrics. They're the people I really dug, growing up."Autumn of 1961, Moon bought his first drum kit, a pearl blue Premier kit. Moon began practicing on his own. In 1962 Moon would gain admission to the Music Club at the Oldfield Hotel where Moon would watch various drummers and in particular, Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages' drummer, Carlo Little. Moon asked Little for drum lessons and Moon would take lessons from Little for a few months.
"Of the major British invasion groups, the Who were initially the most musically competent. They developed and used the power trio format (using only one guitar, drums, and bass) long before Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Led Zepplin made it popular. Their definitions of the instruments' respective functions were different than traditional classic rock definitions - typified by the rhythm guitar, lead guitar, bass, and drums used by the Beatles and Stones. The Who's relatively complex harmonic structure, regular use of three-part vocal harmonies, and development of the "rock opera" format were innovative and sometimes overlooked."Keith Moon was another who possessed innate musical talent; he learned trumpet and started drums by age fourteen. His idols were big band drummers Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich and Hollywood session player Hal Blaine, the man who played on many of the early surf music hits. Dave Marsh, in his creditable Who biography "Before I Get Old" notes that Moon not only tried to emulate their technique, power, and flamboyance - Krupa's twirling drumsticks, for example - but also copied their large drum sets, which at times included double kickdrums.
"He never seemed to be able to get offstage. He always had to be Keith Moon. He was playing the part of Keith Moon, because he couldn't remember what it was like to be normal. The only time he was normal was before two in the afternoon. After two, he became the alter ego.""The Loon" once took eight animal tranquilizers in San Francisco, 1973. At the Cow Palace show he collapsed. Keith couldn't move, couldn't play. He was in a wheelchair for two days. There is a Super-8 film of when Keith's bandmembers brought him off the plane in a wheelchair: the doctor from Free Clinic says, "His heart is only beating once every 30 seconds! He's clinically dead!" And Keith only mumbles "Fuck off."
"I don't really see a full synthesized kit. But they're great to add colour and that's important. I've got 16 drums in my kit and on every song I use a different set of four or five so eventually I've used all 16 drums. Sometimes I use the timpani, sometimes the timbale, sometimes I do runs that'll go right around eight drums and sometimes I'll just use bass drum, snare drum and hi-hat. I've got everything I need there. I can cover from a roar with the timpani right up to the smallest timbale which is about 6". That's why I have so many drums onstage because, with The Who, there's Pete who plays a lot of chords and John who plays very intricate bass figures that I work with and we have this empathy between us."Another topic is the way Keith Moon used his cymbals. Quite often he started a break on cymbals alone without the bass drum behind it, which was something alien to most drummers at the time. Keith in the same interview:
"If you hit the bass drum as well, you bring in some bottom; the cymbal gives you top and with both, you get something in between which is neither fully cymbal nor fully bass drum. Sometimes I do a single-stroke roll on cymbals for a "whoosh" effect. Again, we get back to colour. I believe very positively in colour in drumming. You know, there's so many drummers that can go through the routine but they don't add colour anywhere. They don't paint with the kit. That's what I like doing. I like painting, adding colour and effects and shocking people. Constantly, while I'm playing, I'm thinking two bars ahead. That gives me a chance to, if I'm in the middle of a roll, to do something I've already thought out so I can get out of the roll and into whatever I was already thinking about. Then when I'm there, I'm thinking another two bars ahead.A third topic Keith covers in the interview is the tuning of his drumkit and his preparations to limit the damage done by his hard hitting drum-style:
"I work very closely with Bill, my roadie. I'll go around and tune the drums and then go out front while Bill plays them. I just tell him, "Use the blunt end and whack it as hard as you can." I get the tuning right and if we have three or four dates and we can't get to the hall in time for a soundcheck and I can't really walk on stage in front of the audience and start tuning the bloody things up and Bill knows how it should be tuned and he tunes it for me. After a show sometimes when the crew are breaking everything down, I occasionally go up and have a look around the kit and see if any heads need changing or anything. That happens quite a lot. We change the heads on every second show because I play very hard. What happens is the skin itself tends to lose its resonance after a couple of shows. You've thrashed the life out of it and it just gives up, really. We don't change all 16 drums, only the tom toms, snare drum, bass drum and one of the floor toms that I use a lot. The timbales are usually OK, but I suppose no skin stays on longer than a week. They do lose their tone after a while and I do tend to hit them hard.On the evening of September 6, 1978, Keith Moon and his girlfriend Annette Walter-Lax attended a party thrown by Paul McCartney in honour of the movie "The Buddy Holly Story". It would be Keith's last night out.
Everything is tightened down and nailed and strengthened with extra screws drilled in. Everything is double braced so I can get up, as we do at the end of the act, and actually stand on the kit without breaking the fittings or ripping them away from the wood. Inside each drum I have a metal plate to support them so I can actually stand on top of the kit. The whole thing is solid as a rock."
"When we started playing with him, somebody counted a tune off and I'd never heard anything like it in my life when he came in. Because he doesn't play like most drummers: quarter-notes on drums and basic snare with a couple of fills. He plays full-out as soon as he starts: eighth-notes on bass drums and fills all over the place. It was intense."Keith Moon was replaced in the Who's lineup by Kenney Jones, who was known from his work in the 1960's mod band The Small Faces, as well as some of the work that Kenney did for the "Tommy" movie project in 1974.
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