1964: Pete Townshend Starts Smashing Guitars
One of the most iconic images of rock and roll is when the frontman smashes his guitar. It was in the mid-1960s that guitarist Pete Townshend of ‘The Who’ became the first guitar-smashing rock artist. Rolling Stone Magazine included Townshend’s smashing of his guitar at the Railway Tavern in Harrow and Wealdstone in September 1964 in their list of “50 Moments That Changed Rock & Roll”.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Townshend spoke of his decision to start smashing guitars. He said, “It happened by complete accident the first time. We were just kicking around in a club which we played every Tuesday, and I was playing the guitar, and it hit the ceiling. It broke and it kind of shocked me because I wasn’t ready for it to go… And I was expecting everybody to go, “Wow he’s broken his guitar,” but nobody did anything which made me kind of angry in a way, and determined to get this precious event noticed by the audience. I proceeded to make a big thing of breaking the guitar. I pounced all over the stage with it, and I threw the bits on the stage, and I picked up my spare guitar and carried on as though I really meant to do it.”