Does what you write in your home studio ever come out on records?Most of it gets out, but the recordings I make myself in my own studio, don’t. You might be thinking that you’re keeping things light and you’re keeping things groovy and you’re just making your own musical statement and having a groove and everybody’s grooving to it and life’s a ball. There is a doctor involved who tries to do some psychiatric treatment on the kid which is only partly successful. I smashed a guitar on the Psycho Derelict tour and it was great fun.”. Pete Townshend (born 1945 Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend), lead guitarist and principal songwriter of one of the world's most successful bands The Who, was also known for his extravagant stage style. Obviously you’ve thought about it a lot and obviously it’s connected with music some way. What pop music was doing to people was something incredibly big, and so all the musicians that were creating rock and roll are saying, “Wow, it’s doing something incredibly big, we’re gonna follow this through.”. But on the outside they think it’s probably fucked up, screwed up, loaded with meaning, obviously a nostalgic bit, obviously the story has got something to do with your first sexual relationship; you know, obviously it’s got some spiritual significance: “does Pete Townsend think he’s Jesus?” or whatever the hang up is man. What other ideas in this field do you have?Well, the album concept in general is complex. That’s what you want: you want that action – walk in, set up, play. He wants a kid that will play football and God knows what. Sheff, pondering the question of guilt in regards to smashing such an expensive instrument, saw Townshend reveal his plans to auction off the crumbled guitar for charitable causes. This is a recording and it’s going to be used and it’s gonna be our next album. In part one of the 1968 interview, Townshend spoke about his guitar smashing techniques, why he does it, the mod revolution in England and narrated the story of his next record, which would become ‘Tommy’, The Who are the best known and most brilliant expression of the most influential “youth movement” ever to take Great Britain, the Mods. I said, ‘Now will you fucking get out of my life?’ and she stomped out.”, He then continued: “I looked at John and said, ‘What now?’ And he said, ‘Another paper route, I think.’ Once I had done it, it was always there as a possibility. But when did he start doing his signature exploit? It blasts it, out of its sheer brashness, it’s sheer realisticness. To put out a record of me banging away on guitar or bass drums collectively and generally being a one-man band wouldn’t be a very good idea. I think, with guitar smashing, just like performance itself, it’s a performance, it’s an act, it’s an instant and it really is meaningless. When people find out that my parents are musicians, they ask how it affected me. Slowly but surely the kid starts to get it together, out of this simplicity, this incredible simplicity in his mind. Sign up for our newsletter. They didn’t stop me from doing anything that I wanted to do. This story appeared in the September 14, 1968 issue of Rolling Stone. The father starts to hit him and at this moment the whole thing becomes incredibly realistic. “They didn’t get […] The package I hope is going to be called “Deaf, Dumb and Blind Boy.” It’s a story about a kid that’s born deaf, dumb and blind and what happens to him throughout his life. It’s a great feeling to be in a group that’s happening of any kind. That’s what rock and roll says to life: It says, you know, I’m hip, I’m happy, forget your troubles and just enjoy! inside, the boy sees things musically and in dreams and nothing has got any weight at all. But it’s very, very endearing to me because the thing is . We were going to release it as a single in England instead of this one we’ve just released called “Dogs.” We made one backing track mono the first time. He doesn’t feel the pain, he doesn’t associate it with anything. You see this is the thing about the media barrage – you become aware only of the products around you because they’re glorified, and so that when somebody gets stoned, what they do is that they don’t groove to themselves really, they just sit around and they dig everything that’s around them. one evening, I witnessed The Who’s American debut. I used to bang it and hit it against walls and throw it on the floor at the end of the act. At this point, the theme, which has been the boy, starts to change. that’s where they used to assemble. The mods seemed to have graduated from “My Generation” and “The Kids Are All Right” to very ordinary people, with very ordinary problems.When you look at the people who were mods, the people I am talking about, they are now ordinary people and I mean I’m also going through the same changes. The rock and roll songs I like, of course, are songs like “Summertime Blues,” man that’s beautiful. They don’t realize that they record half of it one time, and then another eighth of it another time. And they were incapable of following through anything as big as rock and roll. He starts to realize that he can see and he can hear, and he can speak; they are there and they are happening all the time. I never really thought about that. It just wasn’t part of my thing and ever since then I’ve never really regarded myself as a guitarist. There are few images that more perfectly encapsulate the wildness and abandon of rock ‘n’ roll as Pete Townshend, in all his youthful, late ‘60s glory, smashing an electric guitar onstage at the climax of a Who show. I decided in advance that I didn’t want to smash the guitar, so I didn’t, not because I liked it or because I’ve decided I’m going to stop doing it or anything. According to guitarist Pete Townshend, his first public act of destruction came about by complete accident: He was performing at London’s Railway Club in 1964 when he unwittingly cracked his guitar’s headstock when it hit the venue’s low ceiling. The U-WHO: why Pete Townshend glued together his smashed guitars It’s one of rock’n’roll’s defining images of excess. Watch Townshend do his iconic trick in action, below. Daltrey, who recently published a … Decades earlier, Townshend explained to Playboy’s David Sheff why he had grown to loathe smashing guitars on stage. “That he … Just showing off, smashing up your guitar.’ To me, it was far, far more than that.” The guitar became But hark, along came Who frontman Roger Daltrey late last year to bring Townshend back to earth with his memoir Thanks a Lot Mr. Kibblewhite. It’s a girl, Mrs. Walker, it’s a girl.” That was supposed to be the end of the thing and you sus out that they’ve been reincarnated as this girl. Pete Townshend Talks Mods, Recording, and Smashing Guitars In part one of the 1968 interview, Townshend spoke about his guitar smashing techniques, why he … not unless the meat and potatoes are there. “I Can See For Miles” and “Magic Bus” both had demo’s which were very, very comparable to the finished releases. From the mid '60s to mid-‘70s – for many The Who’s glory days – Townshend relied on a variety of Gibson electrics and acoustics. I think that unless the actual song itself is good, you know, you can do all kinds of incredible things to it, but you’re never gonna get it. That’s what you build music on, that instant thing of like having a lyric and just seeing it, and being given some words and having to play guitar to them in front of a tape recorder. The reason “I Can See For Miles” came out good was because I sat down and made it good from the beginning. Basically it’s a gesture which happens on the spur of the moment. The whole incredible thing about my parents is that I just can’t place their effect on me and yet I know that it’s there. That’s why I make my own recordings so when they first hear it, it’s not me stoned out of my mind plunking away on a guitar trying to get my latest number across. The actual performance has always been bigger than my own patterns of thought. Then there’s his father outside, outside of his body, and this song is going to be written by John. Everybody just grooving on being a mod. To us, it’s nothing to be able to see and hear and speak, but to him, it’s absolutely incredible and overwhelming; this is what we want to do musically. He just accepts it. Tommy is the thing, man. Townshend was cut from a different cloth to The Beatles, he wasn’t a charming figure who was polite or family-friendly. You said you write best when you are on tour.What I was going to get into when I was saying that sentence was that I write a lot of songs on airplanes but they sound just like songs written in airplanes. I can’t say how they affected me. This is the natural progression, this is the natural progression of boring maturity and boring spirituality and boring ascendance of the evolutionary path. How do you think that compares with what’s called today the American hippie scene?I think it compares. He’s groovin’ in this musical thing, this incredible musical thing, he’ll be out of his mind. He’s with rock and roll. Music was just a feather. Pete Townshend revealed the first time he smashed a guitar. I like to play like [Steve] Cropper. As soon as someone makes any comment, for example, musically on something they’ve done before, they collapse. It wasn’t music, it wasn’t a happening, it wasn’t an event, it wasn’t a musical situation, it wasn’t a beginning and it wasn’t an end. It was an army, a powerful, aggressive army of teenagers with transport. What’s happened when you’ve tried spontaneous recording so far?We’ve made tapes of a backing track for a song called “Now I’m a Farmer,” which is a song I wrote. As the Who’s guitar-smashing auteur, Townshend is responsible for penning the band’s greatest hits, from early pop singles like “My Generation” and “The Kids Are Alright” to full-scale rock operas such as Tommy and Quadrophenia . Why aren’t you already recording in that fashion?We’re gonna, we hope. I don’t play big chords and I don’t smash the guitar around. To get stoned in England is an entirely different trip. I know what it’s like to be a member of a group that it’s difficult to be a member of. But I didn’t, you know, and it’s the first time, I mean I’ve said it million of times before and nothing has happened. it’s got the beat.It’s a bigger thing than that. He revealed: “It’s always frustrated me that when you read about The Who people always wrote about Pete smashing a guitar into an amp. And I think that’s why “My Generation” was such a down number at the end. Over here it’s imperfect, it’s not a sterile situation. I know where I’m at now, I know what it’s like to be a member of a successful group. It was incredible. It’s a very complex thing and I don’t know if I’m getting it across. It was almost too perfect. It used to frustrate me incredibly. We were just kicking around in a club which we played every Tuesday and I was playing the guitar and it hit the ceiling. Like this idea I’m talking about right now, comes from me. None of the romance, none of the visual stimulus, none of the sound stimulus. It’s like comedians’ being forced to use their catchphrase after they’ve become serious actors.”. In fact I forgot all about the guitar because my visual thing was more my music than the actual guitar. But I just suddenly decided before I went on, that if there was anywhere in the world I should be able to walk off the stage without breaking a guitar if I didn’t want to, it would be the Fillmore. It was a movement of young people, much bigger than the hippie thing, the underground and all these things. And one day it broke. And I was expecting an incredible thing, it being so precious to me, and I was expecting everybody to go, “Wow he’s broken his guitar,” but nobody did anything which made me kind of angry in a way, and determined to get this precious event noticed by the audience. They were just so exciting and so good that for a long time we didn’t ever dare attempt to make singles because it was blackmail. The Rickenbacker you see here is one of two being offered in the same lot at the upcoming Bonhams Entertainment Memorabilia Auction due to be held in London on the 10th of December 2015. Pete Townshend’s Guitar Gear History. I don’t really know why I didn’t. His on-stage antics were famously wild, a skill which blew away audiences all over the world who were in awe of Townshend’s ferocious behaviour which often saw him smashing a guitar … It’s the event. I’d think about him and I’d think about what I am going to be missing. An overview of the guitars, amplifiers and effects that Pete Townshend used on stage and in the studio throughout his career, both solo and with The Who, from 1956 to the present. However, despite their studio success, it was the band’s live shows in which they really came into their own. Why does this repeat itself?I don’t know. I knew the music and I knew the feeling of the thing and the drive and the direction and everything. I think, “Well, okay the guy’s not saying you’re a good guitarist, he’s saying what you play you put over well,” or “What you want to put over comes out.” If I look like a good guitar player it’s because that’s my whole thing, to look like I’m playing the guitar, but really I’m not. And the kid doesn’t catch the violence. What approach do you use?The only way I can describe it is to go through it: We walk in, we set up our equipment and through the talk-back will come, “Can we hear the bass guitar, please?” And then for quarter of an hour it’s clang, clang, where the bass guitar microphone is corrected and so on. All those frustrations of summer so wonderfully and so simply, so poetically, put in this incredible package, the package being rock and roll. So we always put it off until Kit was very sure of himself. I knew what I had to play, it was in my head. When you work out an arrangement and figure out the bass line and the various voices, is that just directly translated onto a record that would be released?More or less, but then we don’t really take it that grimly; I mean what happens is I will suggest the bass riff on the demonstrations record, John takes up and goes from there. Their first recording was “My Generation.”. It says everything: don’t have the blues, it’s summertime; summertime, you don’t get the blues in summertime! He doesn’t give a shit about mom falling down the stairs. Want more Rolling Stone? He just knows that some sensation is happening. Here’s a brief rundown. Remembering a performance art piece he had seen in 1962 in which artist Robin Page kicked a … What happens is The Who do an incredible destruction as the plane hits the ground, explosions . I still did make a story out of it, didn’t I? He’s going through this and the uncle comes in and starts to go through a scene with the kid’s body, you know, and the boy experiences sexual vibrations, you know, sexual experience, and again it’s just basic music, it’s interpreted as music and it is nothing more than music. One way to stop taking life seriously is to go out on the road. And then we recorded it segment by segment as I recorded it on the demo disk: guitar first, then drums, then bass, then tambourine or whatever it is we wanted on it. I can’t get my family together, you see. Are they getting back to the values of rock and roll?Let’s hope so. Instead of me hacking my songs around to billions of publishers trying to get them to dig them, what I’ve got to do is get the rest of the band to dig my number. When we get through that, all the lyrics cleaned out, we’ll start to work through the album. Like “Orodono,” I dug because it was a little story and, although I thought it’s a good song, it was about something groovy, like it was about under-arm perspiration. They can be weakened by their education, by their spirituality, by their intelligence, by the sheer fact that Americans are more highly educated. You said that the group you liked was The Who, and you could did the Beatles and music, styles set in music, fashions set in music. It was not about the visual of it,' the singer says. The sight of Pete Townshend smashing his guitar onstage during the climax of a Who's live set, often via an unsuspecting amplifier, is one of rock 'n' roll's most iconic sights. When I write today, I feel that it has to – this is incredible, man – I feel that it has to tell a little story. I’d like to use my studio to record the group because interesting things happen in small environmental sound recording stiuations like Sony tape recorders, for example, which don’t happen in studios. Nobody quite remembers exactly under what circumstances the interview was concluded. © Copyright 2021 Rolling Stone, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media, LLC. Then it was worse. . This is not the list of most talented guitar players. They could appreciate their hair-cuts, their peculiar kinky things that they had going at the time. We’ve been talking about doing an opera; we’ve been talking about doing like albums, we’ve been talking about a whole lot of things, and what has basically happened is that we’ve condensed all of these ideas, all this energy and all these gimmicks, and whatever we’ve decided on for future albums, into one juicy package. I had my first fuck in the drawing room of my mother’s house. Youth has always got some leader or other, some head man. It made the whole gesture so much more vital. Ideally, I’d like to record one backing track for the whole album whether it lasts for two hours or two days. Pete Townshend said it was an accident the first time he smashed his guitar. But because we’re not serious, we don’t have to admit it. You go to Orange Julius and you have an Orange Julius and you watch TV and then you listen to some records, played very, very loud, and you know, it’s a whole different pattern, a whole different way. Primarily, by itself – it’s going to seem incredible – but the record’s got to entertain; it’s so simple and so beautiful. It’s the bloody explosion that they create when you let the gun off. And the whole album is about his experience?Yes, it’s a pretty far out thing actually. There are beloved figures. I’m not saying that you get stoned and you dig yourself or anything. Whether it be badly or nicely, it shouldn’t dictate, it should never dictate. If I’ve got a number that I dig I know that I’ve got to present it to them in the best light. There was no big Fred Mod or something. The whole thing about recording is that man feels slightly cheated anyway, because he’s getting a recording of something which has happened, so he feels like he’s getting something secondhand. With the compliment I immediately think of the people I dig. According to an analysis by, Townshend broke more than 35 guitars in 1967 alone. The Who guitarist Pete Townshend, who studied with Metzger, was an advocate of the movement and believed his trashing of guitars on stage was an act of … I used to try and make up visually for what I couldn’t play as a musician. We’ll probably have to do it in short sections, like 15-minute sections. I think the hippie thing compares favorably, but it’s a different motivation. Albums are only going to be played once or twice. “Take it away,” you know. The uncle is a bit of a perv, you know. There was none of the constriction of thought or anything, it was all analytical. Follow Far Out Magazine across our social channels, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s got to have a rhythm which undulates. Seriously. On one side you have the dreamy music of the boy wasting through his nothing life. It’s like saying, “Get all the pop music, put it into a cartridge, put the cap on it and fire the gun.” You don’t care whether those ten or 15 numbers sound roughly the same. Pete Townshend onstage Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images P eter Townshend – who smashes his guitar – is regarded among the cognoscenti as one of the best rock and roll guitarists in … You didn’t want to know about the fucking TV. The music would have come from the actual drive of the youth combination itself. This is the difference between the mod thing in England and the hippie thing over here. We, of all people, have got to be afraid of seriousness in The Who, because if we were serious, we’d admit that we don’t like each other. I went to my manager, Kit Lambert, and I said, you know, “Can we afford it, can we afford it, it’s for publicity.” He said “Yes, we can afford it, if we can get the Daily Mail.” I did it and of course the Daily Mail didn’t buy the photograph and didn’t want to know about the story. I could hear the notes in my head, but I couldn’t get them out on the guitar. “Okay, we’re ready to go!” Then you find that the number’s only half routine, that you’ve forgotten something, and so by the time you’re worked the routine out, the balance is lost again and you have to start all over again. Townshend covered up his mistake by smashing the guitar to pieces, and the rest was history. Any kid, you know, however ugly or however fucked up, if he had the right hair-cut and the right clothes and the right motorbike, he was a mod. The music and the lyrics become introverted and he starts to talk about himself, starts to talk about his beauty. At home, I write a lot, obviously. And this is the way The Who record. Anyway, this got bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger until eventually I was setting myself incredible tasks. The billowy clouds get you, that’s the way you think, you think in these kind of adjectives. The 1964 Sonic Fender Stratocaster was used by … And he is a romanticist. I don’t talk guitar talk, I just throw the thing around.” Today still I’m learning. There was an anxious moment when Townshend’s falling Les Paul grazed a young extra’s … I couldn’t play the guitar; I’d listen to great music, I’d listen to all the people I dug, time and time again. The Rolling Stones are just going out on the road again; it’s taken them ten years to get over the hang ups they got from being on the road last time. What is the role of rock and roll in this youth movement?Music was as much a fashion as the fashion it created. My family were musicians. Not only were were they young, they were also lower class young. Fake it till you make it: The Who's Pete Townshend smashed his guitars up carefully so they could be repaired and re-used, singer Roger Daltrey reveals Townshend, 74, first demolished a Rickenbacker during a London show in 1964 Fans came to expect destruction and guitarist … The group themselves can’t become powerful because they can be weakened at so many points. A compilation of video clips of Pete Townshend smashing his guitar, solos, slides and stuff like that What it is all about is the hippies, you know, that’s what it’s all about. And we got associated with the whole thing and we got into the spirit of the whole thing. Thousands and thousands of kids, too many kids, not enough teachers, not enough parents, not enough pills to go around. Many have attributed Pete Townshend’s guitar smashing tendencies to his art school education, and exposure to auto-destructive art pioneer Gustav Metzger. And at this particular time the child has heard his own name, his mother called him. You must have thought about where it comes from if it’s not your parents. Rolling Stone Magazine included his smashing of a Rickenbacker guitar at the Railway Tavern in Harrow and Wealdstone in September 1964 in … But breaking a guitar onstage is … His on-stage presence was aggressive from the very first note he played until he literally slammed his guitar into the ground at the end of a gig, a moment of performative art playing out in front of audiences every night. He was playing with The Who in a small cramped room at the Railway Hotel in Harrow, west London. Pepper’s is an incredibly non-physical album. Pete Townshend became famous early in his career as the front man of The Who as a guitar smashing tour de force – a man who stood in stark contrast to the relatively buttoned-down Beatles. The SG was clearly marked as a Pete Townshend limited edition model and came with a special case and certificate of authenticity, signed by Townshend himself. A similar situation happens later on in the opera, where the father starts to get the mother to take the kid away from home to an uncle. If I hear something like the Electric Flag album, I jump up and dance and I hardly get to hear the music because I’m so busy jumping up dancing. The reason it’s got to have a beat is the fact that rock and roll music has got to have that bounce; it’s got to have that thing to make you swing; it’s got to swing in an old-fashioned sense; in other words, it’s got to undulate. Although I do fuck around in home studios and things like that, I think it’s of no importance; I don’t think it’s really got anything to do with what makes the Who the Who. Can you pin down some of the elements that make rock and roll what it is, starting with the basic elements . I pounced all over the stage with it and I threw the bits on the stage and I picked up my spare guitar and carried on as though I really meant to do it. The whole thing about rock and roll dynamism, in many ways, is the fact that if it does slow down, if it does start to review itself, if it takes any sort of perspective on life at all, it falls. By the sea?Yes. We sit down and we do it in one go and then okay, we spend the next two years adding tarty voices or whatever it is that it takes to sell the record. But yet there were mods, they were like–you see something nearer, I suppose, in what it’s like to be a Hell’s Angel, but not as much flash, not as much gimmicking, much less part of a huge machine. It was as flippant as the girls in the group drinking liebfraumilch in the 1920’s. The first two big events are when he hears his mother calling him and hears the word, “Tommy” and he devotes a whole part of his life to this one word. I proceeded to make a big thing of breaking the guitar. And if a thought went along a song, it came in “A” and went out a “Z.” With grooving or jamming or whatever you want to call it, you just pick up your guitar and – okay you might have a very complicated lyric in front of it – you just play the lyric out. I just kind of decided about the actual situation; it forced me to see if I could have gotten away with it in advance. You had to be in possession of plenty of pills all the time and always be pilled up. It’s a well known fact. Pete will tell you it was art,” Daltrey continued. Fucked if I know; musically, I can’t place it and I can’t place it in any other way. And on the other you have the reality of the father outside, uptight, but now you’ve got blows, you’ve got communication. I just do the things which I feel are well within my capabilities as a rhythmic musician. 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The mods could appreciate the Beatles‘ taste. The father is hitting the kid; musically then I want the thing to break out, hand it over to Keith – “this is your scene, man, take it from here.”. They were essentially middle class, they were musicians and I spent a lot of time with them when other kids’ parents were at work and I spent a lot of time away from them when other kids had parents, you know. A lot of people, I’m convinced, that buy records don’t realize what happens when a group records on an eight-track machine. 'We had eight guitars that were in various processes of being glued back together,' the singer explains. You want to commit suicide. Not content to simply "break" his guitar; Pete destroyed everything on stage, all whilst plugged in, creating cacophonous noise to complement the spectacle. That’s really what we want to do: create this feeling that when you listen to the music you can actually become aware of the boy, and aware of what he is all about, because we are creating him as we play. I didn’t even want people to expect it to happen, because I just wasn’t going to do it. I imagine it gets to be a drag talking about why you smash your guitar.No, it doesn’t get to be a drag to talk about it. Inside I’m much more into basic stuff. You can’t create something as huge as rock and roll and then come along and say, “Well, I’m going to do the follow up, now, which is going to be spirituality.” You can’t do it, rock and roll is enormous. Needed a job in order to get it together are a completely insane in, what really... Down some of the so-called rock and roll, starts to change his iconic in! 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