My Dad, Keith Moon, Part 2: Swimming Pools, Nanny Moon & ‘Uncle Keith’

Keith Moon's daughter never was much for the celebrity world of which she has brief memories, before her father died when she was 12. But Amanda de Wolf, or Mandy as she's known, has come to terms with the Who drummer's often manic lifestyle, partly through overcoming challenges of her own.

“It was hard for us to go out much without being recognised,” she says of the years she and her mother Kim spent living with her dad at Tara, their house in Chertsey, Surrey. “I was sort of embarrassed by it. I didn't like being picked up from school in a Rolls-Royce.

Keith Mandy Kim“Maybe now I'd be 'That'd be great.' But when you're the only one...for a while after we left him, there was talk of some sort of kidnapping, so I had to have a bodyguard at school.”

Mandy was speaking to uDiscover to mark the publication by Omnibus Press of A Tribute To Keith Moon: There Is No Substitute, compiled by author Ian Snowball. In this concluding part, she says with trademark candour that she hopes the book will be seen as a celebration of Moon the musician and human being, not as the familiar Moon The Loon caricature.

Musing on Keith's early demise at the age of 32 in 1978, she says: “Hopefully people can learn from that. [The lifestyle] seems fun and excessive, but it's dangerous. You can't carry on living like that. Unfortunately, I didn't inherit the drumming talent, I inherited the Jekyll & Hyde drinking personality. But I've been sober for a long time.

Moon book“When I was younger, I think I had a lot more anger towards the way he treated my mum, but then [when] I started drinking myself, I realised that unfortunately I have that Jekyll & Hyde thing too. I've said and done so many things that I didn't mean, and I've been violent, and I'm not a violent person.

“Now I can empathise more. When you're little, I just didn't want him to treat mum like that. In the book, it was really nice to hear from people who knew him and could tell stories about him, and not just about smashing up hotel rooms and throwing things out the window.”

She adds with a laugh: “I know everyone says 'He drove the car into the swimming pool at your house,' and I keep saying 'He couldn't, there was a giant wall!' They're actually talking about the pond down the road. He drove a car into another swimming pool, at a hotel...”

Much of the time Mandy and her mother lived with Moon was anything but glamorous. “There was a lot of leaving in the middle of the night, and fighting, quite violent stuff,” she says. “But it was what it was. Nanny, my grandmother, his mum, was always like 'You're not angry with him, are you?'

“Even the other day, I was sitting down with her, she's 95, and she was like 'He was a good boy, really, he just got in with the wrong crowd.' I said 'I'm not angry at all.' She used to think I was.”

Mandy olderDe Wolf now works with children who have physical and mental disabilities, and teaches yoga. As a lifelong horse-lover, she also works in equine therapy. “I've always said, I'm worried people might be disappointed, 'She's Keith Moon's daughter, she's so boring!'”

“In my early 20s, I did play drums,” she adds. “I've been married three times and my second husband was a drummer. He was my drum teacher and we ended up getting married. I was in an English heavy metal band called No Shame for a while, and I'm not heavy metal. They all had their long hair and leather, and I was wearing a pink mini-skirt and tennis shoes.”

Asked if she inherited any other of her father's characteristics, Mandy says with her endearing directness: “No, I just look like him! I look like him if he'd lived a lot longer.”

She now enjoys listening to The Who and seeing them live in their latter-day incarnation. “It feels like full circle, the fact that Zak [Starkey] is playing with them, because Keith taught Zak to play. Zak used to call him 'Uncle Keith.' And Zak is lovely.

“People say to me, 'Why are they still together?' and I say 'What are they going to do? They're not going to be plumbers.' This is what they do. I think it's great they're doing it, they're enjoying it.”

Paul Sexton

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