'Moon the Loon' tops poll as rock's most excessive rogue

Chief Reporter,Terry Kirby
Wednesday 31 December 2003 01:00

With stories of Rolls-Royces in swimming pools and televisions lobbed from hotel windows, not to forget the wrecked drum kits, Keith Moon was always seen as the ultimate wild man of rock and roll.

But now it's confirmed: the Who's former drummer, dead at just 31 after a life of hell-raising, has topped the list of the 100 Most Insane Moments in Rock, compiled by Q magazine.

The list is an enlightening record of rock'n'roll's wacky and weird moments - from Michael Jackson conducting a voodoo ritual to fatally curse his enemies, to Elvis Presley's predilection for mounds of jam and peanut butter sandwiches, via Freddie Mercury's offstage sexual thrills and Diana Ross being arrested at Heathrow.

Also included are the drug-fuelled deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, and the bat-biting of Ozzy Osbourne. A chunk of the list compiled by Q's experts consists of some of the appallingly naff album covers - Cher and Yoko Ono - and bad taste costumes - Elton John and Grace Jones - that have so embarrassed rock.

But for "Moon the Loon", his whole short life - from joining the Who aged 16 to his death in 1978 from an overdose of pills prescribed to control his alcoholism - is enshrined as an Insane Moment.

Outlining his daily routine to a doctor, Moon once said: "I always get up about six in the morning. I have my bangers and eggs. And I drink a bottle of Dom Perignon. And half a bottle of brandy. Then I take a couple of downers. Then it's about 10 and I'll have a nice nap until five. I get up, have a couple of black beauties [speed], some brandy, a little champagne and go out on the town. Then we boogie. We'll wrap it up about four."

This diet of alcohol and pills fuelled antics such as setting off smoke bombs onstage and fireworks in hotel corridors, leaving a pig's head in someone's bed, having a naked food fight with police in a Holiday Inn on the night of his 21st birthday, and dressing up as an SS officer to go on a bar crawl.

Oliver Reed, the actor who accompanied Moon on some of his wilder moments, and no slouch with the bottle himself said: "Before we met, I knew the path to the bar, not to the bizarre. Keith showed me the way to insanity."

The worst moment for Moon came in 1970 when, attacked by a gang of skinheads, he accidentally ran over and killed his chauffeur. He was cleared of responsibility. But the craziness continued at his homes in Los Angeles and Surrey, eventually descending into depression and suicide attempts as he tried to kick the bottle and the lifestyle.

"Not only was he rock's most excessive rogue, but the first real rock star, someone whose entire life, on and off stage, was dedicated to maintaining a myth," says Q.


1 KEITH MOON A whole life dedicated to excess, via wrecked hotel rooms, cars and drum kits, surrounded by fireworks, Nazi uniforms and sundry madness, before alcoholism, depression and death at 31

2 PRINCE A Jehovah's Witness who has turned his back on raunchy routines. In October, he called at a house in Minnesota and lectured a Jewish family in the middle of their Yom Kippur meal for 25 minutes

3 MARILYN MANSON Allegedly, the Goth rocker and his band once invited a young deaf groupie into their room where they dressed her in assorted cuts of meat and indulged in "pure meat cavorting"

4 MICHAEL JACKSON Said to have paid a voodoo chief to curse 25 of his enemies, including Steven Spielberg, in a ceremony involving the slaughter of 42 cows and the singer being cleansed with sheep's blood

5 ELVIS PRESLEY One night in the early 70s, the King and his entourage flew in his private jet from Memphis to Denverto get 22 plates of a local speciality sandwich - a toasted loaf filled with jam, peanut butter and bacon

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