Instruments

We're Only In It For the Smashed-Up Hotel Rooms

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What’s the big deal? As long as your record label has to pay for the damages, who cares what ends up in the swimming pool after midnight when you’re a rock star on the road?

Pete Townshend has spoken about his regrettable “rock and roll” antics.

The Who guitarist and singer, who used to smash up his instruments on stage, said such behaviour was “a waste of time” despite it helping to get people to listen to his band.

The 74-year-old musician told The Big Issue magazine: “I was always pretty snobby about rock and roll.”

He addressed an infamous incident in which the band’s late drummer, Keith Moon, chucked a TV through a hotel window. “As the television went through the window, I would look at Keith Moon and go, ‘what a fucking prat. What a waste of time’.

“Then, two or three times I did the same thing and I would think, ‘what a fucking prat’.”

Townshend conceded, however, that it caught music fans’ attention. As a former arts student, he said that he was “in it for the art”.

“Getting into auto-destruction was straight out of art college. People still say that I should never have smashed instruments,” he said, before concluding: “Fuck off. It is how I got you to listen to me.”

I have a hard time believing any of that stuff matters any more. It was used to hype things, certainly, but if the songs weren’t any good, you would have forgotten The Who just like you’ve forgotten so-and-so and the also-rans. Being a terrible guest with violent tendencies at a hotel or being careless with a guitar on stage is just part of the fun.

At the end of the day, how many guitars got smashed? How many really good ones? And how many $50 throwaway guitars actually ended up being trashed while the good ones were spirited away before the end of the gig?

Millions of Dollars For This?

David Gilmour’s heavily customized “black Strat” guitar recently sold at auction for $3.9 million dollars. I guess it is no different than any other valuable piece of history, but, really, we’re talking about a musical instrument.

This particular guitar spent some time on display in the 1990s at the Hard Rock Cafe in Dallas, Texas. While it was there, various patrons stole pieces from it whenever possible because it wasn’t kept in a glass case. So, virtually all of the components have been swapped out—the fingerboards, the electronics, everything. Nothing on it is original anymore.

Here’s what a 1969 Fender Stratocaster would have cost you back in the day:

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It’s pretty amazing to me that something anyone could have bought for a few hundred dollars would end up being worth so much, especially after being turned into Frankenstein’s monster, but oh well.

The scam that surrounds vintage guitars is alive an well.