How Did The Who Drummer Keith Moon Die?

the who drummer
Keith Moon English rock drummer for The Who in 1975. Image by Jim Summaria on Wikimedia Commons.

Keith Moon, drummer for the genre-defining rock band The Who, changed music not only as The Who drummer but as a groundbreaking musician. His brash and right-up-front style changed the drumming world forever.

He burst into the world with a thumping enthusiasm, driving The Who to the heights of rock stardom. It hardly seems surprising that his death would be much the same.

How did Keith Moon die? What events surrounded Keith Moon’s death? Find out below.

How Did Keith Moon Die? 

The Who drummer Keith Moon died of a prescription drug overdose on September 7, 1978. 

Moon was a manic and larger-than-life personality that pushed life to extremes. He had long battled alcoholism and, on the night of his death, had been taking the prescription drug Heminevrin.

Heminevrin is a sedative that reduces alcohol cravings, and Moon had been using the drug for some time and had successfully cut down his drinking.

However, on the evening of September 6, 1978, the Who drummer attended a party thrown by Paul McCartney of The Beatles to celebrate Buddy Holly’s 42nd birthday, had he lived. The event doubled as a premier for McCartney’s Buddy Holly biopic, The Real Buddy Holly Story.

Moon appeared agitated throughout the premiere and left early to return to his flat with his girlfriend, Annette Walter-Lax.

The Who drummer retired to bed with a vast number of pills. Moon had abused Heminevrin in exactly the same way he had alcohol and other drugs.

He was declared dead of a prescription drug overdose at 5:50 am at Middlesex Hospital in London on September 7, 1978.

Related: How did Janis Joplin Die? The Tragic Story of Her Heroin Addiction and Final Days 

keith moon the who
Keith Moon, MLG, Toronto,10/21/76 Photo by Jean-Luc Ourlin on Wikimedia Commons.

At What Age Did Keith Moon Die?

The Who drummer died at the age of 32. Although his career was short, it is hard to deny the impact the young musician would have on the world of music and drumming.

What Was Keith Moon’s Net Worth When He Died?

At the time of his death, the Who drummer had a net worth of about $10 million. This was an impressive net worth in 1978. 

Considering inflation, it is even more impressive 40 million in 2023 dollars.

Why Did Keith Moon Wear Headphones?

Keith Moon was often seen on stage performances and in photos wearing headphones while he played.

Like most drummers, there are a few reasons that The Who drummer might do that. Moon himself gave some of these reasons in a 1971 CrawDaddy interview.

According to the man himself, he would gaffer tape the cans to his ears to hear the backing tracks and his cues to come in. 

This would also enable him to play with a click track (or metronome) while the band performed live.

To have a look at the Moon with his headphones on, check out this promo video for the band’s 1978 single “Who Are You?”

Related: Jimi Hendrix’s Death: A Tale of the Lost Guitar Legend 


Who Was With Keith Moon When He Died?

The Who drummer died in the home that he shared with his girlfriend, Annette Walter-Lax. 

Keith Moon’s Death Scene

After leaving McCartney’s film premiere early, the couple returned to their shared flat at 12 Curzon Street in Mayfair, London

Moon and Walter-Lax ate together and went to bed. According to Lax, Moon took his usual large number of pills before bed, and they went to sleep.

Moon woke in the middle of the night, agitated, and the couple argued. He again complained of hunger and ate. They then returned to bed, where Moon took yet more medication. 

Walter-Lax spent the rest of the night on the sofa due to Moon’s snoring. However, when she woke, the house was quiet and she found Moon face-down on the bed. 

Despite calling immediately for an ambulance, it was too late, and the Who drummer was declared dead at 5:50 am at Middlesex Hospital, although he had died hours earlier.

Keith Moon Daughter

Keith Moon has one daughter, Amanda Jane Moon DeWolf. She was born on July 12 1966 at Middlesex hospital to her parents Keith Moon and Kim McLagan.

McLagan was a British model in the 1960s, and after meeting, Moon found she was pregnant with his child in 1965. 

This resulted in the couple marrying at the Brent Registers Office on March 17 1966.

The relationship was turbulent, with Moon often becoming violent and abusive. Moon was insanely possessive and jealous, which would eventually lead to the breakdown of the relationship. 

The couple stayed married until 1975.

Keith Moon’s Last Words

The Who drummer was alone when he passed, so we don’t know his exact last words.

Related: The Tragic Story of John Lennon’s Demise 

how did the who drummer die
1967 – The Who – Roger Daltrey (side) with Keith Moon. The boys backstage before their gig in Ludwigshafen, Germany. Image by Klaus Hiltscher on Wikimedia Commons.

Reaction to Keith Moon’s Death

Who bandmate Pete Townsend was predictably devastated by the death of Keith Moon.

He stated in an interview with Ultimate Classic Rock that the events leading up to his death were deeply painful to Townsend.

Townsend had watched his friend battle the excesses of the rock lifestyle and had seen him beginning to make progress. Death by drug overdose was devastating.

According to the guitarist, in the weeks leading up to his death, Moon would call him every night at 11:30 and tell him:

 “Pete, I love you, man. Sleep well.”

Who Are The Surviving Members Of The Who?

Pete Townshend, the co-founder and lead guitarist for The Who, and Roger Daltry, lead vocalist, are both still alive. 

Both musicians went on to have impressive careers.

Townshend has pursued a solo career and collaborated with many artists. He’s also had a successful Broadway career, spearheading an adaptation of The Who’s album Tommy.

Daltry would go on to work on solo music but did not reach the kind of heights that he had with The Who. However, he would go on to a successful acting career.

Bass Player John Entwhistle died on June 27, 2002, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas, Nevada. He died of a heart attack brought on by cocaine.

You might also enjoy:

21 Best 60s Songs of All Time: Music That Defined a Decade 

30 Best 70s Songs: Classic Rock, Punk, Disco, and Some Serious Wild Cards

How Did Bob Marley Die? The Ultimate Guide 

Written by Anna Paulson


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