Every hard rocking hero knows that the perfect (and most badass) way to cap off a performance is to sacrifice your six string to the almighty God of Smash. Wrecking your equipment on stage is the ultimate DGAF (“don’t give a f-ck”) move, proving that you’ve got money (and guitars) to burn!
The standard rock practice can be traced to The Who’s Pete Townshend, who accidentally bumped his Rickenbacker onto a low ceiling during a gig in 1964, snapping the neck in the process. Not wanting to look clumsy in front of the crowd (and legitimately bummed about his guitar), he decided to finish the job…and thus, guitar smashing was born! The process has been refined and jazzed up over the years through artists like Eddie Van Halen, Paul Stanley, and Richie Blackmore, but it still fills us with an awesome sense of fear, exhilaration, and “Damn, I REALLY wanted that Strat!” Even a generational spokesman like Kurt Cobain occasionally wanted to drop the whole frontman thing and just rock out uncontrollably.
Read on for some of the most brutal guitar carnage in rock ‘n’ roll history! If you have a weak stomach, you should probably leave now.
10. Eddie Van Halen in Tucson (2004)
We’re not totally sure if it was his guitar or Sammy Hagar that set him off, but Eddie’s axe ended up paying the ultimate price during the final date of the band’s summer ’04 tour.
9. Graham Oliver of Saxon
In the midst of the appropriately-named “Machine Gun,” Graham Oliver of the British metal group Saxon killed his Strat in the most long and drawn-out manner possible, before throwing the remains into the crowd.
8. Jeff Beck in Blow Up (1966)
A guitar genius like Beck ordinarily deserves to be higher on any list, but he lost points for this rather subpar smash. While appearing with The Yardbirds in the seminal ’60s film Blow Up (alongside Jimmy Page, no less), Beck had to be persuaded to wreck his instrument by director, Michelangelo Antonioni. It was a decent smash, but his lack of enthusiasm is obvious. But it makes sense -no virtuoso would feel good about disrespecting his tools!