January 25, 1999 12:00 PM

by Tony Fletcher

The Who’s notorious drummer Keith Moon helped create the archetypal image of the anarchic rock star, modulating from likable prankster and good-time Charlie to philanderer, wife beater and perpetually zonked bad boy before his death in 1978 from a drug overdose.

In the skilled hands of British-born music journalist Tony Fletcher, the richly anecdotal Moon is a terrific read. Absorbing, too, is the detailed treatment of the social and cultural scene in 1960s and ’70s London. But despite these strengths, the author treats his subject a bit too reverentially, dismissing Moon’s destructive, manipulative and often thuggish behavior—he broke his wife’s nose three times—in favor of extended passages analyzing his talent, which Fletcher calls “unique yet impenetrable.” And though he interviewed over 100 people in researching the book, the testimony of outspoken bandmates Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, two indispensable voices, is unforgivably missing. (Avon, $30)

Bottom Line: Despite flaws, this Moon casts a glow

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