Rock ‘n Roll Suicide? Keith Moon

An open verdict was the inconclusive Coroner’s judgement on the death of The Who’s drummer Keith Moon in 1978. Following a detailed investigation neither suicide or accident could be clearly determined as the cause of death in the early hours of 7th September 1978. His sad demise remains a cause for debate with some commentators stating that his death was a deliberate action that was attributed to his loneliness, his waning instrumental abilities and a realisation that he would never overcome his excesses. Others believe that his death was an accident that was brought about by his lack of understanding of the side effects from the pills that were prescribed to him in an attempt to beat his alcohol addiction.

The theory that suicide was the cause can be judged by the huge amount of Herminevrin that was in his system following the autopsy. Moon had ingested 32 tablets at the time of his death. The prescription clearly stated that the dosage should never exceed 3 per day. In addition, he had been drinking the night before and was fully aware that the drug and alcohol should never be mixed. His demeanour in the hours before his death had been subdued, some say extremely withdrawn, and given that he would normally be the “life and soul” of the party, suggest a man with a heavy burden to contend with.

Those who view his death as a tragic accident point clearly to his inability to understand the possibility of side effects from chemical stimulants. He had famously taken a shot of horse tranquiliser before a concert without ever questioning the physical cost. The practitioner who prescribed Herminevrin to Moon was not aware of his lifestyle and fragile state, a point that band members and friends said had a massive bearing on the dreadful outcome. Max Glatt, an authority on alcoholism stated in The Sunday Times that the drummer should have never been given the drug. Roger Daltrey would go on to say, “He didn’t die a victim. He lost the struggle but he wasn’t just lying back there like Jim Morrison was portrayed as ‘just another junkie victim’. He was fighting his addictions right the way to the end. I think he fucked up because his life never had any structure to it”.

At 32, the world had lost one of the greatest and most charismatic performers in rock history.

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