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Pete Townsend SJ200


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Really would have thought he'd have outgrown acting like a 20 year old druggie, especially since he is such a great artist. I guess when you feel your 'career' is in decline, you have to do something "Pat Boon-ish" to try to revive it. Letterman... well the less said...

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"I met Townshend during the 'Psycho Derelict' tour in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and also in New York, where he was scheduled to appear on one of the final 'Late Night with David Letterman' shows on NBC.


"Before he arrived, the show's producers were all atwitter. Apparently, one of them had asked Townshend if he would, afer performing, destroy his guitar. Townshend had for the most part given up smashing guitars, and he hadn't committed, but the show provided an expensive guitar just in case (Townshend had insisted that the guitar be auctioned for charity if he did it). A cameraman was flustered. 'If he's going to smash the guitar, we mut rehearse it!' he said. But one of Townshend's entourage rolled her eyes. 'He's not going to break a guitar,' she said. 'And he's certainly not going to rehearse breaking a guitar.'


"Townshend arrived in black, his hair cut short, Steve McQueen style, eyes sparkling. First was a rehearsal. It was something to watch up close, as Townshend played the powerful opening riff of 'Pinball Wizard.' Bandleader Paul Shaffer interrupted. 'On the record there's a D in there somewhere,' he said, and Pete politely nodded. 'Right. Thanks.'


"Finally, it was showtime. After an opening monolog, Letterman introduced Townshend, who played a fiery 'Wizard,' D included. When he sang 'How do you think he does it?' the Letterman band chimed in, 'I don't know.' Meanwhile, the producers, in the audience, were concerned about one thing: 'Will he do it?' they asked one another. The cameraman waited nervously.


"A couple months later, on the MTV music Awards show, Kurt Cobain, lead singer and guitarist for Nirvana, appeared to feign fury when he destroyed his guitar. It seemed silly. But when Townshend, on Letterman, as 'Wizard' ended, lifted his guitar into the air and brought it crashing down into an amplifier, annihilating it, it was absolutely thrilling."


PLAYBOY: When did you smash your first guitar?


TOWNSHEND: I was 13. John Entwistle and I were rehearsing together in the front room of my house. My grandmother came in shouting, "Turn that bloody racket down!" I said, "I'll do better than that," and I got my guitar--this was a good guitar that I had paid for myself with money I earned from a paper route--and smashed it to smithereens. I said, "Now will you ******* get out of my life?" and she stomped out.


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. If ever I wanted to deal with any kind of hidden rage, I could always take it out on the guitar. I could always trigger the same little bit of psychotherapy.


PLAYBOY: So it's therapy, not theater?


TOWNSHEND: Well, you have to remember I'm not angry all the time. Even now I occasionally get frustrated on the stage with guitars and want to smash them. I tend not to do it, but the opportunity's always there. I smashed a guitar on the Psycho Derelict tour and it was great fun.


PLAYBOY: Is it also cathartic?


TOWNSHEND: It's also embarrassing, is what it is. It's like comedians' being forced to use their catchphrase after they've become serious actors.


PLAYBOY: Are you annoyed when you're asked to do it?


TOWNSHEND: Yeah. I smashed the one on the Letterman show even though I didn't really want to. They asked me to do it and I told them I would if they sold the guitar for charity. They gave me a fabulous guitar--a Gibson J-200 blond, an Elvis Presley-type guitar.


PLAYBOY: Do you feel at all guilty in smashing such a great and expensive instruments?


TOWNSHEND: I do at my age. I didn't when I was 25 and out of my brain. But that's why it had to be auctioned for charity. And believe it or not, it's worth more broken than it is in one piece."

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PLAYBOY: Do you feel at all guilty in smashing such a great and expensive instruments?


TOWNSHEND: I do at my age. I didn't when I was 25 and out of my brain. But that's why it had to be auctioned for charity. And believe it or not, it's worth more broken than it is in one piece."



Fair enough. But is still hurts.......

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No respect, no respect.



(Shame he didn't swing it at that clown in the band).









When pressed by a frenzied journalist about the rock stars destroying their guitars and setting them on fire and all that, Chet Atkins was said to calmly reply: "Well, some of those guitars needed smashing!"


From John McClellands book on Chet.



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At some point back in time P.T.'s acoustic blew up in his hands during a recording session. 'Blew up' in the sense that it simply cracked to pieces due to humidity factors and hard driven right hand work. This according to himself was the only guitar he ever liked. A J-200 from 1968.

"I picked it out from about five at Manny's in New York. It had a crisp sound and an easy neck. It was only later I found how well the J-200 records when you play it hard. Like the Everly acoustic, it has a rather dead soundboard and that allows you to really dig in when strumming. They are hard to bring to life with piezo pickups because the sound is so distinctive in real air, but the body shape, the necks and the sheer strength of the guitar are all very important to me. They also look utterly beautiful." Townshend 2004.

The Manny's guitar followed him for many years, but suddenly in the later 80'ties disaster struck. 2 crown-witnesses recall the situation :

"I don't have romantic misconceptions about musical instruments — they're just wood, probably far more useful as pulp than anything else. There are actually a couple of instruments that I would miss, and in fact a weird thing happened to the J-200 that I've had for a long time. Half way through Iron Man it got wet in the studio and exploded, and it was almost like the guitar getting back at me — the only guitar I cared about dying on me!" Townshend 1990.


And Steve 'Boltz' Bolton, 1994 (co-guitarist during the period) has this remembrance.

"So I went over to Eel Pie and met him. Pete asked one of his engineers to get his Gibson J-200 and when he opened the case the guitar just snapped : the bridge flew off! … I said, See that Pete; you just look at a guitar and it just smashes itself up! This must tell you something!"

You can actually hear the guitar on the Tube – I can't get the link up, but search Pete Townsend - Wont Get Fooled Again LIVE 1979.

Sounds good in my ears though there is a second guitarist.

The story goes the guitar never re-found itself and ended on some museum.

The only guitar I ever cared about thought to me is bizarre in itself. Well The Who was bizarre weren't they – f...... good, but bizarre. Admit I see a kind of primal therapeutic dimension in the destructive act when done once in a while – some catharsis thing. But basically, it's not my frequency. Listened to the band everywhere, saw the Kids Are Alright movie and so on. Only owned 1 Who record. Something less important, , , an early compilation whatever. A bunch of fantastic tunes from their camp, no doubt, still they were always too desperate and physical for me, so sorry.

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Need to add that the P. Townsend/Ronnie Lane Rough Mix from 1977 is one of my favorite albums. Not a bad track – the best of them tremendous.


Fun to see Weller arrive with the Norlin J-45 deLuxe in post 16. It sounds good amplified. Better Tube search the number.

Found it - it's there in a poorer quality. So Sad About Us

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