DEAR BOY: The Life of Keith Moon
The British paperback edition of the Keith Moon biography has been updated with a New Afterword. Available at all good book stores, amazon co.uk, amazon.com, and musicroom
INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW EDITION
The first edition of Dear Boy was published precisely twenty years after Keith Moon's death. This was less a matter of cold calculation than cool circumstance: I worked on the book for years, and when I finally finished writing it, my UK editor saw that the likely publication date would fall so close to the unfortunate anniversary of Keith's death that it may as well be rendered exact.
As it turned out, I wasn't the only one looking to mark Keith's death by honoring his life. The same week that Dear Boy was published, in early September 1998, a Who fans' convention, only the second of its kind, took place in Central London; and Mojo magazine likewise marked the 20th Anniversary of Keith's death by elevating the drummer to the status of cover star and running a ten-page story on him inside. With Dear Boy receiving substantial coverage in the national press, then for a while that September, Keith Moon seemed to be everywhere in the media, just as when he was alive. And at the very moment it appeared that he would slide from public view again
Interest in Keith Moon kept growing.
In America, Keith "starred" in a regularly repeated episode of the memorable VH1 series Behind The Music. In the UK, Channel 4 commissioned a similar, though more sensationalist, documentary called The Real Keith Moon. Radio 2 (yes, Radio 2) led off its Real Wild Child series with a profile on Keith. And then BBC2 decided that Keith was worthy of profile in a series called Real Lives, though his episode was abruptly pulled when Pete Townshend was arrested over the matter of illegal Internet downloads.
And Dear Boy kept selling, quickly transcending the relatively finite world of Who fans for a wider public - people either intrigued by rock'n'roll in general, or by this specific tale of a gifted, loveable but ultimately self-destructive talent. I'd always hoped that Keith's story might resonate so far afield, but never dared assume it would achieve its goal. I was, understandably, thrilled.
One of the inevitable by-products of this success was that, beyond those people I had originally interviewed for the book, a new crop of acquaintances, associates and paramours of Keith Moon now made themselves known, eager either to fill in the gaps in Keith's life or to question my facts. As such, it seems necessary, or at least useful, to add an Afterword to Dear Boy so as to clear up some loose ends and, in the process no doubt, raise further questions about certain key issues.
To those who may wonder why I didn't find these people first time around, it's worth noting that Dear Boy was one of the last big music biographies to be fully researched (and mostly written) before the spread of the Internet. When I started work on the book, in the early 1990s, very few people were using e-mail; those who did were generally tied to slow modems operating over unreliable phone lines, at such expensive rates, that few of them braved the potential universe of knowledge cruelly dubbed the World Wide Wait. Similarly, there was no Friends Reunited to track down Keith's old school pals or band mates; every time I met someone who knew Keith I would grill them for other contacts, leading to an often fruitless series of follow-up phone calls and letters. There was no Google or other reliable search engine to check on concert dates, obscure album track listings, school records or the precise location of a foreign address; gathering such information required extensive use of the telephone, the pen, the mail man and a core group of rock archivists. And there were none of those NME/MM Specials in which every IPC press cutting from time immemorial is collected together in a bumper edition to celebrate an individual act such as honoured The Who in 2003; instead, it was necessary to spend what seemed liked entire weeks at The British Library in Colindale (or the Performing Arts Library at the Lincoln Center in New York) poring through the entire back catalogues of British music papers to find every possible mention of Keith Moon.
Equally, at the time of the book's publication, readers could only contact the author through their own detective work, or by sending letters via my publisher. (Who did, indeed, send them on.) Now, like so many other writers, I spend too much time maintaining my web site, and rarely a day goes by when I don't receive an email adding to, asking about or merely commenting upon Keith Moon's life story. My thanks to everyone who made contact over these last few years, who volunteered their information, and who trawled through their memory banks to help make this edition of Dear Boy that much more precise.
EXCLUSIVE TO THE iJAMMING! SITE, JULY 2005: My interview with Jean Battye, who was with Keith Moon, Kim Moon and 'Legs' Larry Smith when their driver Neil Boland was killed under the wheels of the Bentley, January 3, 1970.