44 Years Ago: Keith Moon’s Chauffeur Killed
The history of the Who is littered with tragic events. From Pete Townshend‘s abuse when he was a child to the 1979 deaths of 11 fans in Cincinnati to John Entwistle’s overdose in 2000. One of the lesser known stories occurred on Jan. 4, 1970, when Neil Boland, who was Keith Moon‘s driver and bodyguard, was accidentally run over by Moon’s Bentley.
Moon, with his wife and several friends, had attended the opening of the Red Lion, a pub in Hatfield, Hertfordshire owned by the son of his neighbors. However, the pub was patronized by working-class skinheads, who took offense to Moon’s display of excessive rock star wealth, not only the fancy car but also his preference for expensive brandy over beer.
By closing time, the scene had gotten ugly. Leaving the club, Moon’s party entered the Bentley, which was surrounded by the patrons, who were rocking it and throwing coins, preventing it from leaving. Boland left the car and confronted the skinheads in front of the car’s hood. Moon, who didn’t drive even when sober, nonetheless tried to save his friends and drove away to safety.
Tragically, neither he nor the other passengers realized that as the Bentley moved forward, Boland wound up underneath the car and was dragged down the road. Boland was pronounced dead at the hospital that night.
Moon was charged with Boland’s death, as well as drunk driving and driving without a license or insurance. Six weeks later, it was ruled that the death was an accident, clearing Moon, although he would later plead guilty to the driving charges. The tragedy would continue to haunt Moon until his death on Sept. 7, 1978.
There are conflicting reports as to whether or not Moon was driving, and Boland’s daughter is convinced, through her own research, that Moon’s wife, Kim, was behind the wheel. However, Moon biographer Tony Fletcher interviewed Jean Battye, one of the passengers in the car that night, who confirms that the drummer did, in fact, drive the car.