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History of Smashing Guitars
Transcript of History of Smashing Guitars
Big History of a Small Idea
“The rules of romance say if you love something, set it free. But the rules of rock tell you to smash it to smithereens.”
Although Jimi Hendrix is greatly known for doing crazy things on stage with a guitar, such as lighting it on fire as well as smashing it, he is not the first to have been known to destroy instruments on stage.
In 1956, a billed performer named “Rockin’ Rocky Rockwell” performed on the Lawrence Welk Show. At the end of the performance he smashed his acoustic guitar to smithereens over his knee.
In the 1950s, Jerry Lee Lewis would smash his equipment and instruments on stage. He did smash guitars, but was widely known for setting pianos on fire.
Rolling Stone magazine named this event from the 1960s as one of the “50 Moments That Changed History of Rock and Roll.”
In September of 1964, Pete Townshed of The Who smashed his Rickenbacker guitar during their performance at the Railway Hotel.
In the 1966 film “Blowup,” Jeff Beck who was a member of the Yardbirds was asked to emulate Pete Townshed from The Who. He was reluctant to do so, but agreed to smash a guitar in the movie.
Jimi Hendrix is very famous for his genius guitar playing skills, as well as destroying guitars on stage by lighting them on fire along with smashing them to pieces.
His most famous destruction of his guitar was during the Monterey Pop Festival from June 16-18 in 1967. He ended his performance with the song Wild Things and kneeled down, over his guitar, and began pouring lighter fluid on it. Hendrix then set the guitar on fire and smashed it seven times before throwing it to the audience. Jimi Hendrix gained much popularity in the US after this.
During each tour after each final song, usually “Rock and roll all nite,” Paul Stanley from Kiss usually smashes his guitar. However, he usually replaces the guitar that he uses throughout the show with a cheaper guitar to smash.
Throughout the 70’s Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple and Rainbow would smash his guitars during performances.
Paul Simonon from the Clash smashed his Fender precision bass at a performance on September 21, 1979. It was at The Palladium in New York City. A picture that was taken of him by Pennie Smith went on to become one of their album cover photos. This famous picture is the cover photo of their 3rd Studio Album called London Calling.
In the interview from the video, Paul Simonon explains how he was mad that the bouncers wouldn’t allow the audience to stand up during the performance. He was overcome with frustration and that is why he smashed his guitar.
Kurt Cobain and other members of Nirvana are well known for smashing their guitars throughout the course of their career during performances. During a concert in 1991 in Dallas Kurt Cobain destroyed his guitar midway through their song “Polly” plowing through monitor and even taking his stand to further destroy the monitor. He got annoyed with a sound issue and definitely was able to take out his anger on the guitar.
During an acoustic ballad parody of the song “You Don’t Love Me Anymore,” Yankovic, “Weird Al,” usually will smash his guitar. He usually will hold the guitar and does not play it throughout the song. Weird Al then smashes the guitar at the end of the song. This is just like the ending of the original song’s music video.
In 2007, Arcade Fire performed on the show Saturday Night Live. Win Butler from the band destroyed his guitar at the end of the performance, because one of the strings of his guitar broke during the performance.
A Guinness Book of World Record’s record was broken by Matthew Bellamy from the band Muse, in 2010. He broke the record for breaking the most guitars during a single tour. Matthew Bellamy broke 140 guitars during the Muse tour Absolution.
During the 2012 iHeartRadio music festival, in Las Vegas, Billie Joe Armstrong smashed his guitar on stage. This member of the band Greenday was angry because he felt that they were not given enough time to perform.
The smashing of guitars on stage can be seen by some as amazing and for others a horrible act. It may be just an act of destruction that is a waste of money, but it also can be the perfect expression of intense emotion that usually goes along with a rock and roll show.
“To me, it wasn’t violence or random destruction. It was art.”
Smashing of the guitar will continue to be a part of rock performances everywhere.