Around your neck I’ll wrap my hands
Smashing to pieces your musical demands
Electronics can’t escape my destructive taste
While shattered sounds scattered, lay dying center stage – Ryan Cox
“Pete Townshend” – A Circus Mind
By early 1964, Pete Townshend’s group, The Detours, had changed its name to the Who, and not long after, the excitement inspired by Townshend’s bashing of his guitar out of frustration during a show ensured it would become a part of the act. By the mid 1960’s, The Who and Pete Townshend became known for their energetic shows and instrument destruction. Guitars were destroyed, amps gouged, and drums exploded amidst a flurry of noise, distortion, and howling! Although already a big act in the UK, and gaining some attention in the US, Monterey was the concert that propelled The Who into the American mainstream. The band’s famed performance was decided by a coin toss, since guitarists Pete Townshend and Jimi Hendrix each refused to go on after the other.
Guitar legends Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend of the Who had a rivalry that predated California’s Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. So when the festival scheduled their sets back to back to end the festival, it set the stage for an epic battle of one-upmanship. Townshend went first, ending his performance by smashing his guitar, his signature move. Hendrix’s performance followed; after a 45-min. set, he bent over his guitar, doused it with lighter fluid and set it alight — all before pummeling it to pieces. The performance entered the annals of rock history, although the LSD Hendrix allegedly took before the show may have provided more than a little creative inspiration.