Keith Moon’s Maple Leafs Gear Goes up for Auction
The custom-made Leafs jacket and wool cardigan, given to The Who’s late drummer Keith Moon is now for sale.
“These items are quite unique, quite exotic,” said David Brewis, co-owner of San Diego-based RockStarsGuitars.com.
“The Who have to be included among the top five bands in the world and everyone knows they had strong connections to Toronto.”
The iconic group — Moon, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and John Entwhistle — made its first T.O. stop at the Gardens in its 1968 North American tour.
Several gold records later, with Woodstock, the rock opera Tommy and so many defining (and destructive) moments in music to their credit, The Who were back on Oct. 21, 1976, still one of the best live acts in rock.
Each member was presented with the fancy jackets and cardigans, as well as the Harold Ballard-era Leafs sweaters that all major acts were given before a show. The Who, ABBA, the Eagles and Linda Ronstadt were all photographed with Leafs gear on stage (ABBA as part of its induction film at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), although it was usually Concert Productions International, co-run by Ballard’s son Bill, that arranged for visiting artists to get such souvenirs.
In Townshend’s 2012 biography, Who I Am, he happily recalled strutting through old Malton airport after the ’76 concert and a night of debauchery, wearing high-heeled boots and “my puffy blue Maple Leaf Gardens ice-hockey jacket (which) gave me the chest of a football player. I had never felt so omnipotent.”
Townshend wore a Leafs sweater at other concert venues and often referred to Toronto as “my second home,” with The Who staging its “farewell” concert at MLG in 1982. But the surviving members did return to the city to perform in various entities.
The 24-song set The Who played in ’76 opened with I Can’t Explain, ended with Won’t Get Fooled Again and included an early version of Who Are You during the encore. But for the ailing Moon, worn down by both his frenetic drumming and lifestyle, the Gardens concert signalled his exit. Already too wasted to complete some shows on the tour, he retired from the road and died in London in 1978 from an overdose of a drug prescribed to battle his alcoholism.
Moon’s mother, Kit, had first possession of the Leafs items among his many other personal effects. She gifted them to one of Moon’s drum technicians, a long-time roadie who had risen through band ranks.
“He’s kept them since the late 1970s, but decided it was time to move them along,” Brewis said. “I have a long-standing relationship with many members of The Who crew and have helped (Daltrey and Entwistle) sell items, particularly to benefit the Teenage Cancer Trust charity in the U.K.”
Given that a leather jacket belonging to Moon recently fetched a price of $10,000 US for their company, Brewis figures that will be a reasonable opening price. Among other Who items that have been for sale are one of Moon’s drum kits from 1974 and Entwhistle’s White Warwick Buzzard bass.
“Where possible, we try and make sure such items will go to a good home, not just wind up hidden in some rich person’s basement,” Brewis said.
Brewis has already been in touch with at least one prominent sports and music collector in Toronto and it’s likely Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment would take a look as it considers a new display of Leafs-themed artifacts at the Air Canada Centre.