Cover image for Moon : the life and death of a rock legend
Moon : the life and death of a rock legend
Fletcher, Tony.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Spike, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiv, 608 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
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Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
ML419.M66 F54 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Keith Moon was an exception to every known rule. He revolutionized the concept of the drummer in rock & roll, leading from the back rather than offering mere support. With the Who, he achieved far greater international fame than his instrument was meant to inspire, only to treat his celebrity as an ongoing opportunity to send up the whole notion. He sneered at the dominant British stiff upper lip while appropriating it effectively enough to delete his working-class background at will. He tempted fate with an almost unparalleled intake of alcohol and drugs, beckoning the world to laugh with him at his apparent charmed existence. More than twenty years after his death, Moon is still revered as the greatest drummer in rock history and the single wildest personality in an age of pop excess. His life and work have become the stuff of legend. Here, in the pages of this masterful book, is the unvarnished truth.

Music Journalist Tony Fletcher has spent more than three years researching Keith Moon's life and interviewing dozens of Moon's friends, colleagues, and associates. The result is an instant classic, the definitive biography of one of rock's seminal figures, a work that brilliantly illuminates both the tender and self-destructive sides of this singular personality.

Wielding the force and propulsive power of a novelist, Fletcher leads the reader through Moon's whirlwind career, making his incredible creative trailblazing easily understandable even to nonmusicians. His clear-eyed reporting of Moon's hyperactive, peripatetic offstage life is compelling and comprehensive, remarkable in its ability to remain fixed on the very human being at the center of the maelstrom.

This is the story of one of the most outrageous rock stars ever born -- and one of the greatest rock biographies ever written.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

With the explosive playing of drummer Keith Moon and guitarist Pete Townshend, the Who expanded the boundaries of rock-and-roll performance. Fletcher follows the drummer from a fractious but secure childhood to his discovery of pop music and the drums to world fame, concluding that perhaps Moon was hyperactive. He was, at any rate, an archetype of rock-star dissipation, and during the heyday of swinging London and rock glitterati club-hopping and partying, he set high standards for outrageous behavior. "Moon the Loon" did not misbehave alone, and Fletcher names appropriate names--tastefully. But hell-raising was his avocation; drumming was his passion. He was a surf-music fan whose madcap, multirhythmic flailing was anathema to stodgy British recording engineers of the early '60s, who preferred the drummer as human metronome. By the time Moon drank and drugged his life away, his manic percussion style had become a touchstone of rock musicianship. Heady and extremely well documented, Moon is rock biography near the top of its form. --Mike Tribby

Publisher's Weekly Review

Unlike other memorable figures of 1960s rock and roll, Keith Moon's one-dimensionally hedonistic persona presents quite a challenge to his biographer. Fletcher does a noble job, having gone to scholarly extremes to offer a thoroughly detailed portrait of the talented but self-destructive drummer for the Who. But no amount of detail can surmount the problems Moon poses as a subject. After all, Moon was a drummer; despite Fletcher's enthusiastic attempts, descriptions of drum fills quickly grow tedious. Fletcher focuses instead on Moon's legendarily hell-bent lifestyle, but perhaps due to the biographer's commitment to accuracy, the rock star's childish escapades soon become repetitive and monotonous. Still, students of the era and of the Who will delight in Fletcher's painstaking researches, even when they lead him to debunk legends that Moon himself created. One famous tale of destruction in a hotel whose manager dared to call the Who's music "noise," for instance, turns out to be no more than Moon's self-aggrandizement. Readers who feel that they missed a grand party by being born too late to enjoy the 1960s, on the other hand, will be disillusioned to discover that drunks were just as boorish and sad 30 years ago. Fletcher reveals Moon not as a spokesman for his generation but rather as a casualty of the empty-headed glorification of youth. This revelation ultimately inspires a greater appreciation for those aging rock stars who have indeed managed to grow up and grow old. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Keith Moon. The mere mention of the name conjures up images of smashed hotel rooms and rock'n'roll excess. The Who's drummer is best known as rock music's most outrageous hedonist, an image that often obscures his status as arguably the greatest rock drummer ever. Fletcher, the author of books on R.E.M. and Echo & the Bunnymen, has written a major biography. He finds the truth behind oft-repeated myths while uncovering the complexities of this larger-than-life figure. His tireless research separates fact from fiction while explaining why Moon's playing was so revolutionary and how his inability to break away from the image he had created for himself led to his death in 1978 at the age of 32. Although Fletcher conducted over 100 interviews for the book, two of the most important people in Keith Moon's life, his mother and Who leader Pete Townshend, refused to participate. Still, Fletcher has written what will surely stand as the definitive word on one of the century's most colorful entertainers. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/98.]‘Lloyd Jansen, Stockton, San Joaquin Cty. P.L., CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.