Guide to British Music of the 1960s

December 2018

Book Review: A Tribute to Keith Moon - There is No Substitute Compiled by Ian Snowball


The word "legend" is frequently used when discussing the Who drummer Keith Moon. He is famed for his off-screen antics as much as for his drumming. Although many have said that Keith was a quiet individual in private, he did like to entertain and would play up to his media image. This is not a biographer of Keith Moon and those wishing to learn more about his life would be advised to read Tony Fletcher's superb Dear Boy. This volume is more of a tribute to Keith Moon by other drummers and those who knew or who were influenced by him. As such the book focuses much more on Moon as a drummer. Contributors include Clem Burke, Kenney Jones (his replacement in the Who), Mick Avory, Rick Buckler, Jack Bruce, Don Powell and many more. The introduction was written by Pete Townshend.

Was Keith Moon the greatest rock drummer? This is always contentious. He himself claimed to be the best "Keith Moon-style" drummer. What is clear that he did have his own style that was perfectly suited to the Who but it would not have worked with many other groups. What was different about the Who was that every member was a lead player. If anyone is unsure about the drums as a lead instrument listen to I Can See for Miles! The drums were always upfront and Moon played them differently. He made little use of the hi-hat, preferring to use the ride cymbals. He made use of a double bass drum, not just for the sound but also for the greater stage presence. The body of work created between 1965 and 1978 are a fitting tribute to Moon and show just how important he was to the group's sound. His place in the Who is all the more evident by his lack of work outside the band. He lived for the Who and struggled more when the band was not touring.

The overall impression given is that Keith Moon was a truly great drummer who created his own style and sound that made a major addition to the sound of the Who. He should be remembered for this unique contribution to rock music rather than his more manic antics on and off-stage.

Published by Omnibus Press

ISBN: 978.1.78558.148.9

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