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The Legend of Keith Moon:His 1967 Birthday Party
One of the wildest stories in rock and roll history
This is possibly the most infamous story of rock and roll debauchery. Many believe this one incident is what set the bar for the unwritten contest of outrageous stunts, and stories of rock stars on tour. The antics of Keith Moon, are to this day, so excessive and out of control; that incomparison to say... the likes of stories of Ozzy Osbourne. Keith makes Ozzy look like Mother Teresa. This is only one story of many, about the man who was lovingly nicknamed, "Moonie" and "Moon the Loon." Keith Moon was by far one of the greatest rock and roll drummers of all time. Keith also was a man who was fighting many internal demons. The demons beat Keith on September 7th, 1978.
The Who had been traveling around the country, during their first American tour in 1967, as the opening act for, believe it or not, Herman's Hermits. The tour just so happened to arrived in the unsuspecting town of Flint, Michigan on the day of Keith's 21st birthday, which was actually his 20th birthday,I would think his age was "bumped up" for legal drinking age reasons. Such an monumentous occaision, could not be overlooked by the touring bands and entourage. So, an instant party was planned at the hotel that the band was staying, which according to the story was a Holiday Inn. By ten o'clock in the morning, both bands,The Who and Herman's Hermits, and their road crews had gathered to celebrate around the swimming pool of the Holiday Inn. Of couse, in true rock and roll fashion, the booze, that had been given to Keith as birthday gifts, started flowing. Soon morning drifted into the afternoon, more guests started to arrive bringing presents, mostly of more alcohol. As the sun began to set as evening approached, the party began to continue to escalate into a celebration of insanity. People still fully dressed began to jump into the pool, and dozens of bottles of various alcoholic beverages were dumped into the pool's cool waters, The Flint, Michigan Holiday Inn, soon found itself to be, the home of the world's largest martini.
As the day's celebration continued, a huge birthday cake, which was a gift from the Premier drum company, was wheeled out in the honor of Keith's special day. Keith, barely able to walk from his day-long festivities, summoned up all of his remaining strength...picked up the entire cake and dumped its five layers on an unsuspecting group of victims, who were all sitting together in a drunken stupor. The incident seemed to inspire everyone to catch a "second wind," resulting in huge gobs of cake being hurled from every imaginable corner of the besieged hotel. The main dining room had become a war zone, and the action started to spilled into the hotel lobby, which soon was left covered in cake and icing. Somehow during these festivities Moon had managed to lose all of his clothes(rumor has it some of the road crew had something to do with that), and so he pranced around bare-assed. Finally, the police arrived to break up the party.
Keith decided, that instead of waiting around to be arrested. That, he, the ever sly, quick thinker, dashed out into the night and jumped into a *Lincoln Continental limousine parked in the hotel parking. As he released the handbrake, he suddenly realized that the car was rolling backwards, and that he didn't have the keys to start the engine. In his highly drunken state he failed to realize that he could step on the brake and stop the car's backwards motion. He just patiently sat back in the front seat of the car, and waited. The car, with Moon inside crashed through the swimming pool's protective fence, and rolled into the water of the swimming pool.
The car rapidly began to sink in the pool's deep end. It looked like the short, glorious career of our hero, Keith Moon was about to reach an untimely end of the line. Even in his state of unimaginable drunkeness, his instincts for survival somehow kicked in, and as the car was about to totally submerge, he took a gulp of air, pushed the car door open and swam to the pool's edge. As Keith emerged from his "swim" he was greeted by a police sergeant and the sergeant's gun. Deciding that valor was still the better part of discretion, Keith again attempted to make a run from justice. Keith's escape was ironically thrwarted by a piece of birthday cake frosting. Upon which he slipped, causing Moon to fall forward and knocking out one of his his front teeth. After finally being apprehended, he was forced to spend the rest of the evening in jail.
The following morning Keith was released from jail. The sergeant still had one more birthday gift to present Moon with. The gift was a bill from the hotel for damages totaling about $24,000 dollars (which was good money in 1967), as well as,a stern warning never to return to Flint.
In the course of one eventful day, The Who had been banned from all Holiday Inn Hotels and the City of Flint, Michigan. All Keith could offer was a missing tooth smile.
*in some versions of this story the car is a Cadillac, and even in a couple stories I read during research the car was a Rolls Royce