isolated drum track on The Who’s Pinball Wizard

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Iconic Who drummer Keith Moon is often seen as a rock and roll character rather than a leader in instrumentation. His off-stage antics have often eclipsed his performances on stage, some have even been drastically affected.

The drummer may have earned his nickname “Moon the Loon” with incredible acts of debauchery as well as some of rock’s greatest legends, but we mustn’t forget that he was a monster behind the drums. The duality of his career ensures that Moon remains an iconic figure in music to this day.

Widely regarded in the annals of rock percussion greatness alongside behemoths such as Ginger Baker, John Bonham, and more, Moon has always had his detractors. The Who drummer has always had a way of ruffling feathers. Whether it was off the stage, where his notorious antics would see him driving cars into swimming pools, putting explosives in drum kits, and even passing out in the middle of shows, or behind the kit where he refused to perform. in the traditional way. Never turn away from the work at hand.

The problem for one corner of the percussion world is that Keith Moon, despite being one of the best that has ever lived, is a bit, well, how do you say that? Negligent. For much of the band’s spirited debut on stage, this was attributed to excitement, as they got older, their apparent lack of timing was labeled under the effects of alcohol and drugs. In reality, it was just an idiosyncratic style unique to Moon.

On The Who records and without audiences, where the band are free to tighten and manipulate Moon’s drums as they see fit, it’s even more textured and sprinkled with artistic flourishes. The drummer intends to apply his own style to each piece he performs. He brought the anarchy he felt and chased the group into the very center of his playing whenever he stepped behind the drums.

The isolated track below from the band’s iconic number, “Pinball Wizard,” sees Moon in mercurial form. The track is taken from their 1969 rock opera Tommy and the lyrics offer a glimpse of their main protagonist Tommy Walker in the middle of one of his legendary play sessions. It’s one of the band’s most beloved songs.

While Pete Townshend once called the trail, “the most awkward handwriting [he’d] ever done ”it remains one of the most beloved Who songs of all time. A focal point of the opera, much of the power of the song comes from Moon’s outrageous fills.

Much like The Beatles’ Ringo Starr, Moon’s timing and cadence is, if not always millisecond perfect, filled with passion and power.

The rhythms and fills he chooses for a song of such magnitude are not only amazing, but unique to Moon. So when Keith Moon once described himself as “the world’s best Keith-Moon drummer,” he was right about the money. It is this ability to live completely in the moment, if only for a short time, that transcends Keith Moon in the realm of genius.

Listen to Keith Moon’s isolated drum track on The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” below.


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