Keith Moon was a Lunatic: A Review of Anyway Anyhow Anywhere

‘Essential reading for the fan’ as they say.

Anyway Anyhow Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of the Who by Andy Neill and Matt Kent. Virgin Books, 2007. 485 pages.

This is a tome, but in a good way. On putting it down I was left with the feeling that little was left to be said. The people who were there can write what they saw and thought and felt, but as a record of what’s on the record — what the band did, where they went, what they recorded, who they played with, that kind of stuff — this is unlikely to be replaced, except perhaps by a later edition of itself.

Whether you want to know all that, well…

The main feeling I was left with on putting it down was sadness at what happened to Moon. This is partly because the book takes his death, roughly coinciding with the release of Who Are You, as the end of the chronicle, but it is also because his escapades take up a disproportionate amount of the book. The authors are not unduly fascinated by the escapades; they just take a lot of pages to outline. Moon clearly desperately needed to be loved, watched, laughed at. And the times when that was not happening were so unbearable that nothing could fill the gap, not even horse tranquillisers. His anxiety and insecurity must have been towering. They killed him at 32, overweight, worn down by his own excess. An overdose of a drug designed to fight the craving for alcohol killed him. He would have lasted longer had he just kept drinking (even if he was taking champagne, brandy and amphetamines for breakfast). He was supposed to take one, to a maximum of three per day, to still his cravings for alcohol. When they found him six had dissolved in his stomach at once, killing him. There were more than twenty others still undissolved…

The book deals with all these big stories by being plain. It lays out the facts pretty baldly. A few opinions are put forward here and there, but rarely. If you’re interested in the band, or in ‘classic’ rock of the 60s and 70s, it is an interesting read, encyclopaedic. In a quite way it fights the glory that is stupidly heaped upon the likes of Moon, Winehouse and Cobain and so many others. Just by telling it plainly.

The picture of Townshend on the cover makes him look about 12.


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About Darren

I'm a scientist by training, based in Australia.

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