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Article: The History of Guitar Smashing

daddy in training

The History of Guitar Smashing

We humans love to destroy stuff. Whether we are giving in to our childish tendencies, releasing built-up frustrations or simply following a cultural tradition, the ritual of breaking and smashing objects brings many of us a sense of pleasure. And by no means is this a recent phenomenon. The ritual actually dates all the way back to antiquity.


Archaeologists have uncovered evidence that suggests many extinct cultures participated in ceremonies involving destroying objects. In some parts of the world it was believed that doing so allowed the object's spirit to accompany its owner in the afterlife. While in other parts of the world it was considered an act of military conquest; for instance, an invading army destroying the statues of a conquered king. I like to think that archaeologists many years from now will consider adding another example of ritually killing an object to their studies: guitar smashing. That's right...smashing, pounding and even setting the guitar on fire. It has become the ultimate rock 'n' roll move that is mostly associated with male rockers, though there's been a movement to get girls into it too. (Check out this guitar smashing workshop proposal for young girls.)

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Notable guitar smashers include The Who's Pete Townshend, Kiss' Paul Stanley, Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor, Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, and the most legendary of all ritual guitar smashers, Jimi Hendrix. Each of these musicians pounded, smashed and burned their instruments into oblivion. And then there is D, my daughter and little rocker. Her moment was not as dramatic as Townsend, Stanley, or Hendrix, but it was still very cool. She simply pointed to her guitar with her finger, which is her way of saying, "Papa, get off the couch and get me what I want." brokenguitarI gave the guitar to her and then she (unintentionally, I believe) smashed it into two pieces over her chair. Not bad for a one-year old. Yes, we were sad to see this thoughtful birthday present from our dearest friends lying on the ground in pieces. (They forgave her, by the way.) But if this is a sign of things to come then we will have a lot to look forward to when she is older. Who knows, maybe in the distant future an archaeologist with a love for rock music (sound like someone we know?) will uncover one of D's broken guitars and become a renowned expert on the ritual of guitar smashing. For more archaeological lessons from the daddy-sphere, click HERE, and see all our instrument-related posts HERE And don't forget to show Rockabye Baby some love today, by visiting Red Tricycle and voting for us!

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