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The history of the art of guitar destruction

What’s the one object you love more than life itself - an object you simply couldn’t bear to see smashed to pieces? For musicians, the answer has to be their instruments. They are expensive, sometimes irreplaceable pieces of equipment that make it possible for you to do what you love most in life. 


That’s precisely why these moments of brutal guitar destruction made such an impact on audiences around the world, leaving them stunned.


Pete Townshend, 1964 (and always)

Well, at least it started out as a crowd shocker when The Who’s Pete Townshend damaged his guitar on accident and then thought, “What the hell. I’ll just get a new one anyway,” and proceeded to smash it to bits. He would go on to destroy many, many more, and start a trend. Thanks Pete!


Green Day, 2012

Not everyone is destroying guitars on stage these days, but it’s happened enough times that it’s more of a crowd-pleasing stunt of awesomeness than something that would surprise concert goers. Green Day really pulled off this gimmick to cheers at the iHeartRadio Festival in 2012.


Jimi Hendrix, 1967

But guitar destruction has also had its moments as a more symbolic act of protest and political commentary. The master of guitar destruction in these circumstances would have to be Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival, where he didn’t just smash his already priceless instrument for the hell of it, but more methodically doused it in lighter fluid and set it on fire. Then he smashed it. The best guitarist of all time was also possible the best guitar destroyer of all time.


Richie Blackmore, 1977 (and others)

Possibly even unintentionally, guitar destruction has been used artistically itself, like the time Richie Blackmore broke his guitar to bits on a camera, giving the audience at home as well as the audience in attendance, a show they will never forget. Today we have movies in 3D, but back then, that would have felt like having the guitar smashed right on your head. Then of course there was Munich in 1977 when he continuously speared the broken guitar neck into the stage, mirroring the rage Germans had experienced in a divided country for more than 30 years.


So, are you ready to get out there and smash your guitar anytime soon? We only suggest you scout out a replacement first to minimize the heartbreak.