In 1956, on the Lawrence Welk Show, a zoot-suited performer billed as "Rockin' Rocky Rockwell" did a mocking rendition of Elvis Presley's hit song "Hound Dog." At the conclusion of the song, he smashed an acoustic guitar to smithereens over his knee. Ira Louvin was famous for smashing mandolins that he deemed out-of-tune.
In the mid 1960s, guitarist Pete Townshend of The Who was the first guitar-smashing rock artist. Rolling Stone magazine included his smashing of a Rickenbacker guitar at the Railway Hotel in September 1964 in their list of the "50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock & Roll". A student of Gustav Metzger, Townshend saw his guitar smashing as a kind of auto-destructive art.
Keith Moon, The Who's drummer, was also known for destroying his drum set. The most spectacular episode of this occurred during The Who's debut on U.S. television on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967. Moon overloaded his bass drum with explosive charges which were detonated during the finale of the song, "My Generation." The explosion caused guest Bette Davis to faint, set Pete Townshend's hair on fire and, according to legend, contributed to his later partial deafness and tinnitus. Moon was also injured in the explosion when shrapnel from the cymbals cut his arm. VH1 later placed this event at number ten on their list of the twenty Greatest Rock and Roll Moments on Television.
Jeff Beck, then a member of the Yardbirds, reluctantly destroyed a guitar in the 1966 film Blowup after being told to emulate The Who by director Michelangelo Antonioni. Jimi Hendrix is also famous for destroying his guitars and amps. He famously burned two guitars at three shows, most notably the Monterey Pop Festival.
Paul Stanley of Kiss is also noted for destroying his guitars after playing the final song of each tour which is usually Rock and Roll All Nite, although he frequently replaces the one he's been playing for a cheaper smashable one.
Instrument destruction has also featured in other musical genres. Towards the end of Peter Maxwell Davies's monodrama Eight Songs for a Mad King, first performed in 1969, the vocalist seizes the violin from one of the musicians and smashes it. And New Zealand-born American Composer Annea Lockwood performed a series of pieces in the late 1960s in which pianos were "creatively" destroyed, e.g., by burning, sinking in a swamp, hacked to pieces, etc.
Later instrument destruction
When on tour, "Weird Al" Yankovic frequently performs an acoustic ballad parody, "You Don't Love Me Anymore", holding a guitar, but never actually playing it. At the song's conclusion, he smashes the guitar, emulating the conclusion to the song's original music video.
In 2012, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day destroyed his guitar at the end of a live performance of iHeartRadio music festival in Las Vegas as a sign of outburst of not given enough time for his performance. 
- Gallagher, a comedian who regularly smashes watermelons on stage as part of his act
- Shock rock
- List of musicians known for destroying instruments
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- Fontenot, Robert. "Did Jerry Lee Lewis really set his pianos on fire onstage?". About.com.
- Wynn, Ron (1994), "Jazz Venues", in Ron Wynn, All Music Guide to Jazz, M. Erlewine, V. Bogdanov, San Francisco: Miller Freeman, p. 717, ISBN 0-87930-308-5
- Friedlander, Paul (1996). "The Who: People Try To Put Us Down". Rock and Roll: A Social History. Westview Press.
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- "The Who, Smothers Brothers, 1967". Ready, Steady, Go!. Archived from the original on 2009-01-06.
- VH1[dead link]
- Neill, Andy; Kent, Matt (2005). Anyway Anyhow Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of the Who 1958-1978. Sterling Publishing. p. 66.
- "Hendrix's burnt guitar for sale". BBC News. 2007-08-25.
- "Gallery of Guitar Destruction". Parade. 2007. p. 4.
- "Gallery of Guitar Destruction". Parade. 2007. p. 6.
- Marin, RIck (1993-10-31). "The Ax Murders". The New York Times.
- Nirvana frontman "Kurt Cobain's smashed guitar sold for $100,000". NME. 2008-12-26.
- "Matthew Bellamy". MuseWiki. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
- Modell, Josh (2007-03-14). "Interview: Win Butler of Arcade Fire". The A.V. Club.
- Gladwell, Amy (2012-09-23). "Newsbeat - Green Day lead singer smashes guitar on stage in Vegas". BBC. Retrieved 2013-02-02.