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. US country musician 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 Tavern in Harrow and Wealdstone in September 1964 in their list of "50 Moments That Changed 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 known for destroying his guitars and amps. He famously burned two guitars at three shows, most notably the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. In an effort to out-do The Who's destruction of their instruments earlier at the same event, Hendrix poured lighter fluid over his guitar and set it on fire, even though "I'd just finished painting it that day" as he would later remark. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine included this in their list of "50 Moments That Changed Rock & Roll" alongside Townshend's first guitar smashing in 1964.
Instrument destruction has also featured in other musical genres than pop and rock music. 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.
Later instrument destruction
When on tour, "Weird Al" Yankovic frequently performs a novelty acoustic ballad, "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 the famous toga party scene in the movie National Lampoon's Animal House, John Belushi's character Bluto comes across a folk singer (portrayed by singer-songwriter Stephen Bishop, who is credited as "Charming Guy With Guitar") performing the The Riddle Song for a group of college girls. Bluto abruptly takes the singer's acoustic guitar out of his hands and smashes it, then hands a splintered piece of it back, saying "Sorry."
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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- VH1[dead link]
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