Guitar Aficionado

Pete Townshend’s Smashed Rickenbacker Fetches $78K at Auction

This was the last Rickenbacker the Who guitarist ever destroyed.
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A Rickenbacker guitar smashed onstage by Pete Townshend during the Who’s 25th anniversary tour in 1989 has sold at auction for £52,000, about $78,600.

The guitar, a Fireglo 360/12V64 which is in several large and many smaller fragments, was sold by Bonhams in London on December 10.

To make the deal a little more attractive, the sale included an intact Rickenbacker played and signed by Townshend as well.

Townshend became famous for his guitar-smashing antics throughout the years, beginning in 1964. He notes that Rickenbackers were the focus of his rage only during the Who’s early years and were soon jettisoned for other brands, among them Fenders (including numerous Stratocasters) and Gibsons (most notably SG Specials).

The guitarist writes in a statement, “In the first years of work with The Who in 1964 and 1965 I smashed about 7 Rickenbackers, but never another until 1989, and the one offered here is the only one to survive, even in pieces... I will never smash another Rickenbacker again, and certainly never mount one as a trophy in this way.”

The Bonhams Rickenbacker was smashed on July 6 or 7 of 1989 at RFK Stadium, in Washington, D.C., according to Its pieces were collected by Townshend’s guitar tech and made into an art installation.

In the years between its destruction and sale, the guitar was pictured on the cover of the Who’s 1990 album Join Together: Live, Townshend’s “English Boy” CD-single cover and his Psychoderelict-related releases. The Rickenbacker was also on display in 2009 at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Here for your enjoyment is a video reel of Townshend destroying various guitars over the years. Watch your speakers—the volume levels are all over the place. Otherwise, it’s smashingly good.