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  • Artist/Maker:

    Les Paul (maker)

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Allan Smith & Pete Townshend through John Entwistle

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The rock star Pete Townshend (born 1945 Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend) is an English rock singer, guitarist and composer who included the smashing of guitars in his mid-1960s act with the rock band 'The Who'. Jerry Lee Lewis may have been the first rock artist to destroy pianos on stage, but Pete Townshend was the first guitar-smashing rock artist. Rolling Stone magazine included his guitar smashing at the Railway Hotel in September of 1964 in their list of 50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock & Roll.

Townshend's career with The Whospanned more than 40 years, during which time the band grew to be considered one of the greatest and most influential rock bands of all time. Townshend is the primary songwriter for the group, writing over 100 songs on the band's eleven studio albums, including the rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia, plus dozens of additional songs that appeared as non-album track singles, bonus tracks on re-issues, and tracks on rarities compilations such as Odds and Sods.

Physical description

Broken solid-body electric guitar with a rosewood and mahogany neck, with six oblong mother-of-pearl inlaid pieces on the neck. The body of the guitar has a cream plastic finger guard and metal-foiled volume knobs. Fourteen metal struts remain on the neck which has been smashed above this point, from which protrudes a metal rod, the core of the neck.


Les Paul (maker)


Length: 63.0 cm length of body to end of broken neck, Length: 84.0 cm entire length, to tip of rod, Width: 33.0 cm maximum width across body

Descriptive line

Electric guitar broken on stage by Pete Townshend (b.1945) of 'The Who' who smashed guitars in concert as part of the performance. Given by John Entwistle.


Rosewood; Mother of pearl; Plastic

Subjects depicted



Entertainment & Leisure; Musical instruments


Theatre and Performance Collection

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