Fortunately, Gibson helped him out and repaired it for him, ensuring he’d be able to play “Sex On Fire” for another day. Not to be outdone, or appear a loser, I quickly went upstairs and found the half-joint I'd had hidden for over a month. "Yes...I did..." We didn't say another word. Oh boy... now, Pete was furious again. That alone deserves some recognition here at the home of heavy guitar. 1) the first ever 'real' electric guitar I played was a borrowed single-pickup single-cutaway Melody Maker. season 1 # episode 8 # the adventures of pete and pete. The Who’s Pete Townshend has played – and smashed – many different guitar brands over the years. Occasionally, though, he breaks a guitar he really likes. Some, like Kurt Cobain, made an artform out of guitar destruction. According to an analysis by, Townshend broke more than 35 guitars in 1967 alone. It wasn’t, and Russell destroyed the guitar before anyone had the chance to replace it with a cheap equivalent. While Moon and John thrashed around doing the big coda thing, Pete put down the "new" SG and walked over and picked up the headless SG that he'd bashed all those EE E EE E E E 's on, played the entire show on. I was instantly dismayed and deeply disappointed. Like Atlas Obscura and get our latest and greatest stories in your Facebook feed. That Melody Maker really changed my guitar-playing life. But he still plays it all the time. Pete Townshend used (and abused) many Fender Telecaster guitars between late 1965 and 1967. The half-joint laced with angel dust! Jimi Hendrix set fire to his guitar in an effort to outdo The Who, Kurt Cobain smashing his guitar at SNL is a thing of legend. From the mid '60s to mid-‘70s – for many The Who’s glory days – Townshend relied on a variety of Gibson electrics and acoustics. An audience really had to demand an encore. (He can’t play the other; it was stolen from his apartment in 1995.). Moon and Entwistle soon figured out that they had to provide the music and flew off into terrain that I've never heard on any recording... foookin' JAZZ. I knew about two-thirds of them. Sheff, pondering the question of guilt in regards to smashing such an expensive instrument, saw Townshend reveal his plans to auction off the crumbled guitar for charitable causes. ...“She was carried off to hospital. Dang! “My God, they’re throwing guitars out there,” a lyric from the song goes. They launched into "Shakin' All Over" and I mean launched! I can't walk." The roadie was about halfway to the wings when Townshend stalked over and stomped on the guitar, instantly snapping the head off the neck and vehemently shook his head NO! At a show in Tacoma, Washington in 1989, he was windmilling so aggressively that he accidentally pierced his hand with the guitar's whammy bar and needed hospital treatment. Also destroyed was the bass guitar that was used on Hank Williams, Sr.’s last album, the bass that you hear in the song, “Your Cheatin’ Heart“. Well, that’s partly true. We were completely blasted... and thoroughly enjoying ourselves and each other. Problem was, it was a Gibson ES-325, a guitar with massive sentimental value that he frequently plays at shows. What were they doing here ahead of me? (Photo: Slash performing with his band Velvet Revolver. All rights reserved. It came back all original,” Robinson told Music Radar in 2014. The guitar glided in, face first, and I literally caught it by it's two SG horns. With obvious contempt, he spit on the stage. He has claimed he deliberately did it because he “was determined to get the precious event noticed by the audience.” Pete: I proceeded to … The front row was like being in the 8th or 9th row at the Fillmore East. All the ushers from the Fillmore East were there dressed in actual tuxedos, augmenting the clearly-mind-blown staff of the Met. There was an anxious moment when Townshend’s falling Les Paul grazed a young extra’s head. One thing to remember: If you’re going to destroy a guitar, make sure it’s not valuable. for The Met shows. She was horrified.). A damaged guitar. The smashed guitar is currently on display at the EMP Museum in Seattle. That led the band to reach out to a few luthiers who could salvage their treasured instruments. “We can’t believe that it happened. Follow us on social media to add even more wonder to your day. The story of guitar damage, of course, starts with Pete Townshend, The Who’s world-smashing guitarist. Besides, I wanted to go make out with Esther for awhile, put her on the subway, and get myself psyched and ready for the next performance. He stepped back a foot or two, judging the distance of the orchestra pit, and with one Zen motion tossed the guitar high in the air. The Who performing in Toronto, 1980. The song ended. © 2021 Atlas Obscura. I am talking about Pete Townshend of the Who. “It’s about the preservation of American musical history and heritage.”. Carroll fought back, of course, with music: That song created a PR nightmare for the airline, even affecting its stock price; it eventually scored over 15 million views on YouTube. He’s a rock star; he just bought a new one. It was April 1970 and I had slept out for two nights to the immediate south of the marquee of the Fillmore East to get tickets for the Who's Final Performance of "Tommy" at the absurdly ostentatious and downright silly venue, The Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center. When Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012, the band’s storage facility in New Jersey faced a direct hit. Perhaps Pete Townshend’s work for the Who is a paradigmatic example of this duality. on Monday, Bill Graham opened the Fillmore East up to everyone on line and served free coffee and donuts while showing cartoons on the Joshua's Light Show screen. It must've gone up 15 feet. Since then, because he used SG Specials on some of their classic albums, he has become associated with the guitar and as a result, Gibson began working with him to create signature models. Pete's first use of auto-destruction occured when he smashed his guitar at the Railway Hotel in Harrow, West London in September 1964. His first … Virtually every other person on line, and by Sunday afternoon there was almost a hundred of us, were indeed, true Who loonies. Click to expand... Another version is that he chucked it randomly , but roadies went after it and retrieved it. Pete smiled, and with his eyes said, "Nice catch. (Photo: Julio Enriquez/CC BY 2.0). Pete is also responsible for inventing — or at least inspiring the Marshall stack. Whatever had happened while they were offstage, they'd come back out just flaming! Townshend learned not to throw a lot of sentimental value into his rock machines, but every axe-grinder has their own approach to the guitar-destruction process. Amazingly, and, believe me, I remember all of this like video tape, the moment they started playing, the angel dust...just...disappeared. Pete Townshend When it comes to guitar vandalism, Pete Townshend is without a doubt the godfather of them all. The destroyed guitar from the shoot was preserved in Lucite and displayed at the Rolling Stone offices. Probably, no, not probably, the only time that venue ever reeked of reefer. "Esther, we've got to take a cab. I took a deep breath, called Esther, told her how I'd just spent the weekend, and asked her if she wanted to sit in the front row with me on June 7th. This happened by accident, when Pete broke the neck off of his Rickenbacker guitar after banging it on the low damp ceiling above the stage. Carroll fought back, of course, with music: created a PR nightmare for the airline, even, This Ship Probably Won't Be Named 'Boaty McBoatface' Like The Public Demands, When Hard Rock Music Meant Banging on Actual Hard Rocks, 5 Secrets for Mastering the Theremin, From the Legendary Clara Rockmore, Dig This Look at the History of Jazz Slang, Remembering, With Fondness, the 'Worst Orchestra in the World', These Grandmothers Are Preserving Ukraine’s Folk Music Traditions, The Singer Who Topped Charts by Embracing His Stutter, had most of his instruments tagged by Egyptian customs officials, Caleb Followill tore apart his vintage Gibson guitar, Gibson helped him out and repaired it for him, bought two “factory second” six-strings that he could beat up on tour, the band’s storage facility in New Jersey faced a direct hit. When the box office opened, bang, I got the exact seat I wanted for myself for both shows and the seat next to me for the matinee. The deep red curtains opened to reveal three Hiwatt stacks on either side of Moon's enormous drum kit (the Fillmore shows were merely two stacks each). We can all now thank Pete Townshend … A Gibson Les Paul. Wwwwwow! Someone had brought a guitar, and on Sunday night, I treated everyone to the entire "Tommy." Oh boy... now, Pete was furious again. In the first verse, there is an uprising. I was, of course, still living at home in Brooklyn. We made it easy for you to exercise your right to vote! One of Townshend’s hallmarks as a songwriter is his use of intertwined electric and acoustic guitar sounds. About eight weeks later, Sunday, June 7th, 1970... and... it was Show Time. My hideously painful crush on Esther was finally getting some wonderfully tangible relief and hope. 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Never heard the story of the roadies going into the audience to retrieve the guitar; One shouldn't be surprised, though, since it was one of the few Townshend guitars of the time to survive (relatively) intact! And yes, they do get their broken guitars repaired, generally. No purchase necessary. Bill Graham was organizing and promoting the show for the management of The Met. Dang! I nodded. Pete Townshend smashed his guitar up and put the neck into the amp. Deciding that the expensive replica Les Paul guitars that he used on Appetite for Destruction wouldn’t be safe on the road, he bought two “factory second” six-strings that he could beat up on tour. Cobain was a notable user of cheap guitars of all sorts, and he left a trail of busted amps that went back for miles. Pete had calmed down a bit and threw himself into entertaining the rabble that was desecrating the seats of the Met. All rights reserved. Back then encores weren't the horseshit rituals they soon became. Before the Monterey Pop Festival, Hendrix already pulled of and somehow mastered his stunt. As Townshend alludes to, he only does the guitar smashing when he is in the mood to do so, making it a special and almost symbolic moment. (Photo: Dave Carroll, a Canadian singer-songwriter. When the Martin company, who loaned the guitar to the Quentin Tarantino film, found out about the situation, they decided to ban any other movie from borrowing its guitars for any reason. Adams was heartbroken, but in his honor, we’re gonna cut him off a little slice of heaven. At one point, Pete made eye contact with me and sort of jerked his head towards Esther, as if to say, "That your bird, mate?" to the hapless roadie, who scurried away back into the wings. When we walked in, I burst out laughing. As he played, a roadie slithered out onstage on all fours, grabbed the strap of the out of tune SG, and started slowly pulling it offstage, trying hard not to be noticed by Pete. A version of this post originally appeared on the Tedium newsletter. From alligator to zoot suit, jazz musicians speak about the language of the scene. The guitar was eventually repaired, but around the time Nevermind was released, he smashed the guitar again during a live performance of “Endless, Nameless” in Chicago. (Photo: Chris Combe/CC BY 2.0). I can still see Roger looking over at Pete with a look of "Holy Fook" on his happy face. (Photo: Jmann7702/Public Domain). Read More. A Brief History of Rock Stars Destroying Guitars. Jimi Hendrix is waiting backstage while The Who play their set. Caleb Followill on stage with his band Kings of Leon. It was a Who party on the filthy streets of the East Village. This piece of performance art inspired guitarist Pete Townshend of the Who, who was the first guitar-smashing rock artist. I was in Heaven. A huge number of the band’s guitars, amps, and other instruments—60 in all—were damaged and nearly destroyed. (I'd never brought a grrrrl to a Who concert before). The Who's lead guitarist and main songwriter Pete Townshend commonly plays his guitar with a fast windmill motion, inspired by watching Keith Richards' warm-up exercise.

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