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36 Years Ago: Keith Moon’s Last Who Show

Polydor Records/

Keith Moon played his final tour date with the Who on Thursday, Oct. 21, 1976 at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Canada. It was the final date on the band’s 1976 tour. Within two years, Moon would be found dead from an overdose of Heminevrin, a sedative used to combat his alcoholism. Though Moon would perform with the Who in a couple special gigs filmed for use in the documentary, ‘The Kids Are Alright,’ this would be his last official Who date.

After tours spotlighting mammoth works like ‘Tommy’ and ‘Quadrophenia,’ the 1976 trek was more of a back to basics jaunt and by most accounts, a truly rocking round of shows. The tour, however, was not without its share of incidents. The band crossed the U.K. and Europe before heading to the U.S. By the time the tour made it to the States, Moon had become ill, forcing the rescheduling of the opening date. Despite such drama, the band were still capable of the firepower that made them so great, as live recordings from that tour confirm.

Moon embodied the spectacle and glory that made the Who such an amazing live act. In the early days, he and Pete Townshend would often try and one up each others stage antics. Townshend stated in the 1979 documentary ‘The Kids Are Alright,’ “As soon as I started smashing something up, Keith, who’s a great sort of joiner-inner used to smash up his drum kit!”

“A lot of people really, really, really, have never understood how important Keith’s drumming style was to the Who,” said Roger Daltrey in the ‘Classic Albums – Who’s Next’ DVD. “I kind of describe it as, if you imagine Pete and John as two knitting needles, and Keith was the ball of wool. He would kind of keep it all together.” Townshend humorously added, “Keith Moon’s drumming was an expression of his personality and his ego and his grandiosity and his ridiculousness and his theatricality and his sense of humor.”

The band’s onetime manager Chris Stamp put it best: “He was, in a sense, the soul of the band.” Moon died Sept. 7, 1978 at age 32, and rock and roll hasn’t been the same without him.

Next: Top 10 the Who Songs of the ’60s

Hear the Who Perform ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ in Toronto


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