Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Who Smashed the First Guitar on Stage?

December 2, 2015

Smashing a Perfectly Good Guitar Pendant | UncommonGoods

Who smashed the first guitar? Yes, they did.

Pete Townshend, legendary guitarist of the classic British band first destroyed his instrument on stage in 1964…by accident. Soon, the Who was known for the instrument-smashing melees that punctuated their exuberant live shows, including Keith Moon’s exploding drum kit, live on the Smothers Brothers Show. Since then, the annals of rock history have been full of violent instrumental sacrifice, with other performers getting more and more inventive with their destructive showmanship: Jimi Hendrix set his Strat on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival, Keith Emerson abused his Hammond organ with a dagger he carried for just that purpose, and Kurt Cobain made an art form of reviving Townshend-style guitar sacrifice. Today, busted-up basses and six strings are mostly relegated to museum collections, but in the classic rock era, no axe was truly safe in the spotlight.

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  • Reply Lauren December 2, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page was once asked how he felt about all that guitar smashing and he was horrified. He said he would never purposely injure one of his guitars! 😉

  • Reply Jacque December 14, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    The smashing of guitars always perplexed me. I couldn’t understand why artists purposely did this when often times the sound a guitar makes does not duplicate exactly within the sounds of another guitar. Why would this not change the sound of the music?

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