Pete Townshend smashed guitars up carefully so they could be repaired

We ARE gonna fake 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 glued his instruments together
  • Daltrey, 76, said his bandmate would carefully avoid breaking necks of guitars 

The Who guitarist Pete Townshend used to smash guitars carefully so they could be pieced back together after the gig, his bandmate has confessed.

Fans of the band came to expect destruction at every concert after Townshend, 74, first demolished a Rickenbacker at the Railway Tavern in Harrow and Wealdstone in September 1964.

The show gained legendary status in rock’n’roll history, but behind-the-scenes Townshend was forced to repair his instruments so they could be re-used.  

Singer Roger Daltrey, 76, said Townshend would carefully avoid breaking the neck of his guitars during gigs so he could glue the body back together afterwards.

He told the How to Wow podcast: ‘It was costly in glue because as fast as we were smashing it — we had four sets of gear — it then got glued and by the time we got to smash it again the glue had set. 

The Who guitarist Pete Townshend (pictured performing at Granby Halls, Leicester in 1975) used to smash guitars carefully so they could be pieced back together after the gig


Fans of the band came to expect destruction at every concert after Townshend, 74, first demolished a Rickenbacker in Harrow and Wealdstone in September 1964. Pictured: Townshend in 1967

‘They weren’t prop guitars, they were real guitars, but we worked out very cleverly, very rarely did the neck break, as long as the neck didn’t break you could glue the body back. 

‘Even with holes in it, it didn’t matter, as long as the distance between the bridge and the nut of the guitar [where the strings are supported] was the same you could make it work.’

Daltrey added that their onstage antics ‘did get expensive,’ confessing the band were ‘millions in debt’ until the late 1970s.

‘It did get expensive and of course everybody thought, oh these successful rock bands are making millions, we were millions in debt in today’s money,’ he said. ‘We just worked and didn’t really make any money until about 1977.

Pictured: Pete Townshend performs at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas in 2002

Singer Roger Daltrey (middle with Townshend, Keith Moon and John Entwistle in 1966) said Townshend would carefully avoid breaking the neck of his guitars during gigs so he could glue the body back together afterwards

‘I remember we came off tour in 1970, we had done a huge tour, and we’d decreased our debt. We had cut our debt by three quarters but it was still £655,000. It was like being on a chain gang.’

In 2015, a Rickenbacker smashed by Townshend during The Who’s 25th anniversary tour in 1989 was bought at auction for £52,000.

Speaking of his antics, Townshend previously said: ‘In the first years of work with The Who in 1964 and 1965 I smashed about seven Rickenbackers, but never another until 1989, and the one offered here is the only one to survive, even in pieces.’ 

The legendary band, which formed at Acton County Grammar School in London in 1964, count We’re Not Gonna Take It and Baba O’Riley among their hits.

The band released their 12th album ‘Who’ last December after 13 years of silence, which was supported by a 57-date tour across Britain and North America. Pictured: The tour in Florida

Pictured: Daltrey and Townshend in concert at the Marquee Club, London in March 1967

Townshend and Daltrey were initially joined by Keith Moon and John Entwistle in The Who, but the guitarist once said the pair were ‘f***ing difficult to play with’.

Moon died when he was 32 in 1978 after overdosing on clomethiazole, which he was taking to ease symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Entwistle’s life ended when he was 57 and came just one day before The Who were set to start a US tour in 2002.

The band released their 12th album ‘Who’ last December after 13 years of silence, which was supported by a 57-date tour across Britain and North America.     

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