Monday, August 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Keith Moon (1946-1978)

With regrets to Kenneth Arrow and Robert Solow, two of the most important economists of the twentieth century, both of whom I'm happy to say are still with us, as an ex-drummer myself, I simply could not overlook the birthday of the greatest drummer in rock and roll history, and one of the most influential drummers in any genre during the twentieth century. Tony Williams, one of the world's greatest jazz drummers, reportedly said that Moon was his favorite drummer. The accolade from a jazz drummer was appropriate because Moon was the first drummer in rock to use jazz techniques such as playing across the bar.

The 1971 album Who's Next captures what might be the single greatest performance of rock drumming across a series of songs in music history. Other drummers laugh with joy hearing Moon's playing on tracks like "Bargain" and "Going Mobile."

Tommy was the first record album I ever bought (in 1969). Keith Moon quickly became my favorite drummer, and still is 40 years later. I got to see him play live with the Who three times before he died. When I was in college in LA, I would sometimes see him at public functions in and around Hollywood. Once, he showed up driving a WWII-era tank for the premier of the rockumentary "All this and World War II." Moon played the drums like no one else before or since. Often imitated, never duplicated, he was a one-of-a-kind, mad genius. Noel Gallagher from Oasis called Moon the "Jimmy Hendrix of the drum kit." That pretty much hit the nail on the head.


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