On 30th April 1976 Keith Moon paid nine cab drivers to block off both ends of a New York City street so he could throw the contents of his hotel room out the window. Moon spent a lot of his time in New York, usually staying at the Hotel Navarro.
First out of the window was the record player, disappearing into darkness before shattering as it hit the ground 12 storeys below.
Next came the chairs, a glass-topped table and pictures ripped from the walls. Then the TV, always a highlight, blasting into a thousand pieces like a small bomb.
Before the hotel management realised the contents of their luxury suite were being systematically hurled to destruction, the piece de resistance was being made ready.
A cherry bomb — a high-powered firework — strategically placed inside the toilet bowl in the suite’s bathroom was detonated with such violence that it blew the receptacle off the waste pipe.
What happened in a other new hotel was when the noise from Keith’s room got particularly excessive one day, the Wilshire management cut off his electricity. Infuriated, Keith responded with a now famous course of action. He moved himself and his furniture out into the hallway, plugged his stereo into the sockets there and sat down in his armchair – naked. It was altogether easier for the hotel to let him return to his room to make a noise than invade everyone else’s personal space.
When the band was staying at the hotel during the abortive attempt to record Lifehouse (the follow-up to Tommy that ultimately morphed into Who’s Next), Moon was frustrated by his inability to get into the sound engineer’s room to hear some of the demos.
Since the rooms were adjoining, Moon simply started carving a hole in the wall with a knife stolen from room service until he eventually loosened a brick and, covered head to toe in dust and looking like an Ealing comedy villain, appeared in the room to retrieve the tapes.
“Keith lived his entire life as a fantasy,” says Roger Daltrey. “He was the funniest man I’ve ever known, but he was also the saddest; I’ve seen Keith in some terrible times. I saw him at his height, but then I saw him at his lowest. Keith is someone I love deeply, but who was a deeply troubled character.
I think he was possibly autistic, maybe even with a touch of Asperger’s. He had an incredible talent but was completely uncontrollable. Not just a little bit uncontrollable, completely uncontrollable. So when it came to the things that he really wanted to do, like becoming an actor, he could do one take and it would be wonderful. But when you’re making a film you have to do that ten times and of course every take he did was completely and utterly different. But he was brilliant.”