It was 45 years ago today — May 25th, 1978 — that the Who took the stage for the final time with drummer Keith Moon. The band had grouped at their Shepperton Film Studios to shoot the climactic live finale for their official career-spanning documentary, The Kids Are Alright.
The band’s eight studio album, Who Are You, was released on August 18th, 1978 — with Keith Moon dying the following September 7th due to an accidental overdose of Heminevrin, a medication prescribed to help alleviate alcohol withdrawals, mixed with alcohol.
The Kids Are Alright director Jeff Stein had filmed the band performing a 15-song set back on December 15th, 1977 at the Gaumont State Theatre in Kilburn, London to less than-satisfactory results, with the sorely under-rehearsed Who performing a brilliant — yet ramshackle — show for Who die-hards. The May 25th film shoot at Shepperton featured the band tearing through 10 songs — including two takes of John Entwistle‘s Who’s Next standout, “My Wife” and a pair of run-throughs of “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
It’s evident in the footage of “Baba O’Riley” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” that Keith Moon was far from the peak of his powers, bloated and struggling to muster the magic that had graced the Who’s greatest live performances.
Roger Daltrey and Keith Koon watched a rough cut of The Kids Are Alright just three weeks before Moon’s death. Daltrey remembers the famed drummer being beside himself as he watched his physical disintegration chronicled on the silver screen: “He was deeply, deeply shocked by it, I think, because for him it must’ve been a very weird experience, because he watched himself, really, go from a young good looking boy — ‘Cause he was, he was only 18 (when he joined the band), he was a really unbelievable personality and he turned into this spitting image of (character actor) Robert Newton in literally, 14 years. I mean, it must’ve been kinda scary for him to watch. And he knew. . . he knew that, kind of, the last things we played together, which was shot at Shepperton — I don’t know. It shook him up really bad, I know that.”
Kenney Jones was named Keith Moon’s replacement in November 1978. He performed his first gig with the band on May 2nd, 1979 at London’s Rainbow Theatre.
After years of delays, the long-awaited Keith Moon biopic is finally set to begin filming in June, according to Variety. Moon’s surviving Who bandmates and manager Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will serve as executive producers, with the film being directed by Paul Whittington — best known for his work on The Crown and White House Farm.
The Real Me was written by British screenwriter Jeff Pope, who was nominated for an Oscar for his script for the 2013 film, Philomena. The Who’s longtime manager Bill Curbishley is among the film’s producers with the L.A.-based White Horse Pictures serving as the movie’s production house. No release date has been announced.