If you can make it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art before the October 1st, 2019 closing date of its attendance record-setting exhibit, Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll you will find that it is so much more than just a collection of famous guitars. For me, the Oh, Wow factor is summed up in the true work of art that is Keith Moon’s Pictures of Lily Drumkit circa 1967. Jesus god, look at this beautiful thing. Just look at it.
Inspired by the song of the same title, Pictures of Lily is nine-piece Premier kit — comprised of a snare, two bass (or kick) drums (which are reproductions of the originals), three floor toms and two mounted (rack) toms, with two Paiste cymbals, which appear to be one ride and one crash — with custom artwork.
Floor Toms Artwork Detail
Keith Moon received this drum set at the beginning of The Who’s 1967 U.S. Tour and used it extensively for the performances that followed. The artwork features nude photos of Lily Langtry, the subject of the single “Pictures of Lily.” The psychedelic design incorporates a Union Jack and the text “Keith Moon Patent British Exploding Drummer,” a reference to Moon’s tendency to pack his drums with shells and flash powder in order to detonate them onstage. The two original bass drums are lost, possibly destroyed buy Moon’s pyrotechnics.
I love Keith Moon and everything, and this tatt is a pretty realistic likeness, but…I’m not sure how I feel about it. Keith’s face has a little bit of an Ed Grimley thing going on. It is kind of creeping me out. What do you think?
On This Date, January 4th, in 1970: Who drummer Keith Moon accidentally ran over and killed his friend and bodyguard Neil Boland while trying to escape a gang of skinheads outside of a pub in Hatfield, U.K. Although Boland’s death was ruled an accident and no criminal charges were ever brought against him, those close to Keith say he was haunted by the accident for the rest of his life.
On This Date, October 23rd in 1972: Filming began for the British film That’ll Be the Day, a coming of age story set in the late 50s / early 60s starring David Essex (of “Rock On” fame) and Ringo Starr, with Keith Moon in a memorable, drum playing cameo. That’ll Be the Day is a fairly bleak look at life in post-war Britain and, more importantly, the central character, Jim (David Essex) isn’t a very nice guy. But if you’re a fan of The Beatles, this film is a fascinating re-creation of the environment in which they and the entire British Invasion came of age. Of further interest to fans of The Beatles and The Who, the film is somewhat based on the early life of John Lennon, and Pete Townshend wrote the song “Long Live Rock” for the soundtrack.That’ll Be the Day has never been released on DVD but you can stream it online if you subscribe to Netflix. The story moves a little slowly, but it is worth checking out.
Who drummer Keith Moon was born on this day, August 23rd, in 1946. The photo above was taken on the occasion of Keith’s 21st Birthday in 1967. Legend has it that Moon’s birthday party celebration got wildly out of control and, in an trying to avoid the police, Keith climbed into a Lincoln Continental Limousine (the exact car model is up for debate) and attempted to make a getaway. Unfortunately, in his intoxicated state he released the handbrake, and began rolling towards the pool. Moon simply sat back and waited, as the car crashed through the fence around the pool and into the water. RIP, Keith, you are still missed.
On This Date, September 7th in 1978: Keith Moon, drummer for The Who, died in London of an overdose of Hemenephirin, a drug he was taking to cure his alcoholism. He was 32. I still remember that day like it just happened; what a fucking tragedy. In an oddly related story, on this same date in 1985, drummer Zak Starkey (son of Ringo Starr) and his wife Sarah welcomed their first child, daughter Tatia Jayne. Starkey has played drums for The Who since 1994, and actually received his first professional drum kit from Moon, who is also his Godfather. That kit later sold at Sotheby’s auction house for £12,000.
On this Date, June 25th in 1967: An estimated 400 million people in 26 countries saw The Beatles debut “All You Need is Love” as part of the One World satellite broadcast. Among those who provided backing vocals on the track were Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton and Keith Moon. As a side note, I also very much enjoy The Rutles’ parody of this song, “Love Life.” Love is the meaning of life/ Life is the meaning of love…