Upon Meeting Mr. Moon
I misspent much of my high school and college careers at Who concerts all up and down the East Coast, riveted to the antics of the flambouyant, bug-eyed dummer who clearly was more than just a little bit nuts. As mentioned in posts above, the DVD of the Isle of Wight Festival of 1970 captures Keith Moon's stage presence perfectly. This shows him as I remember him in the late 60s, full of energy, upstaging his chums, and clearly having more fun that anyone else at the concert. The fact that Moon was such a comedic showman makes it hard for many to take him seriously as a drummer. It's almost like everyone thinks of him as the Spike Jones of rock.
But, to call him sloppy is to do him a disservice. Granted, he quickly lost his edge in the mid-70s but look closely at how disciplined he is on the Isle of Wight DVD (1970). Sure, it looks like he's just flailing away at will, but he is very much in synch with his mates and clearly drives the music forward. Would he fit in with any band of that era? Probably not. It is hard to imagine him with the Beatles, Doors, Rolling Stones, Kinks, or even the Yardbirds. Each band had their own style and Moon was a perfect fit for the Who sound and stage show.
Speaking of which, one of my fondest memories is sitting in the back of the RKO Theater in NYC and talking with Keith Moon during intermission at the 1967 Murray the K Easter Show. The week-long show was the Who's first US appearance and they were largely unknown outside of a few geeks like myself who traveled from my home outside Wash, DC specifically to see The Who in the flesh. To make a long story short, I talked Keith into sitting down for a few minutes at the back of the nearly deserted theater and I am sure that I impressed him with the fact that I, too, played drums (although for a group with considerably less talent and far less of a future).
At the time, he was just a twenty-year old British kid on his first trip to the States hoping to make it big with this very loud band. He was quiet soft-spoken and maybe even then a little out of it. Then, when other fans began gathering around us, he excused himself and walked out the front door of theater and onto the streets of NY in company with some roadie. It occurred to me later that I probably could have tagged along and had quite an adventure to tell my kids had I survived it.