Often revered as the quintessential component required to complete the ultimate trifecta that is British Rock, The Who is held within the ranks of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones as one of the most influential bands of the 1960’s and 70’s. Known as the pioneers of rock opera as well as the first rock band to successfully integrate synthesizers into their music, The Who have never been a band to fall victim to the status quo. The mastermind behind a large majority of their lyrics, musical composition, and stylistic stance is non-other than their guitarist, Pete Townshend, who in the midst of a live performance mistake, altered the guitar game for good.
In September of 1964 The Who were performing at The Railway Tavern in Harrow and Wealdstone. Performing there every Tuesday night, this was not a venue or crowd to which the band were unfamiliar. Townshend, being a man of 6 foot stature, recalls his guitar hitting the ceiling and breaking. Sadden by the incident, Townshend wasn’t prepared for his guitar to go. Expecting someone, anyone, to notice the unfortunate happening and feel mournful for the loss of a man’s instrument, Townshend became enraged that no one seemed to care. Determined to have this precious moment accounted for, Townshend began smashing and bashing the guitar across the stage until the once prized possession was nothing but bits and bolts and there wasn’t a person in the room who hadn’t noticed the occurrence. Townshend, now satisfied, strutted to the side of the stage, picked up his spare guitar, and began playing as if nothing had happened.
This moment, rooted in rage and discontentment, sparked interest to those who had witnessed its happening and became celebrated as an instance of raw human emotion, that of which Rock N’ Roll was becoming known for. Pete Townshend went on to smash hundreds of guitars as well as influence the likes of Eddie Van Halen, Matt Bellamy, Paul Stanley, Bill Joe Armstrong, Kurt Cobain, Paul Simonon, Jimi Hendrix, and many more to unleash their passion and emotion into a moment that the audience is sure to remember and to always acknowledge.