Back in November, there was a great article in the New Yorker Magazine by James Wood about Keith Moon. It was great to read a scholarly, yet impassioned piece about one of my drumming heroes. I would post a link to the article, but you would have to get an online subscription to read it (the buggers!). I'm sure if you really want to read this thing, you can dig it up somewhere and it's worth seeking out if you're a Keith Moon fan.
In the article, Woods makes an interesting comparison between Keith Moon and Glenn Gould (the eccentric pianist from the classical realm). Lately I've been digging some Glenn Gould - and he was a pretty weird character, but I don't think he ever threw any TV sets out of hotel windows. Now, I understand that Gould cut his performing days short (due to a phobia about performing in front of an audience) and focused on recording. Keith Moon certainly had a (relatively) brief experience as a performer also, but that's where the similarity would seem to end. I'm no expert on Glenn Gould, but to me there might have been a better analogy to the classical realm for Keith Moon.
(And here it is) : With all due respect to Mr. Woods, I propose that Keith Moon was (to the Who and the concert audiences) more like THE CONDUCTOR than any given performer. From my understanding, it was mainly THE CONDUCTOR that classical audiences went to "see" - they were the ones that would put on "the show". The Conductor of any given orchestra determines the tempo, the pacing, what details are given attention to in any performance - AND has the option to earn "style points" with the audience while doing their business. Toscanini, Stokowski, Reiner, Bernstein..........these are just a few of the more popular conductors of the last 100 years in classical music. They all drove their orchestras like Keith Moon drove the Who - with taste, class and balls! Audiences would not want to take their eyes off the conductor. Likewise - in any given live footage of The Who you've ever seen, do you really watch anybody else in the band besides Moon? Check out this great clip of the Who live in 1970. I dare you not to look at Keith - it's impossible. His performance is riveting - he determines the pace of the music which happens to be - hit the ground running!! This was traditionally the first song of any given Who set of the era. Truly brings a tear to the eye - they're not making them like this anymore, folks! Enjoy!