Pete Townshend may have started this whole guitar-smashing thing in rock music, Jimi Hendrix famously set his guitar on fire, and Paul Stanley of KISS certainly makes a big spectacle out of it. But no rock star consistently demolishes their axe on-stage with as much vigor and ferocity as Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple and Rainbow.
This week in 1987, Deep Purple’s world tour got interrupted after Blackmore broke a finger in his hand while destroying one of his axes during the show. Specifically, he threw the guitar up in the air and tried to catch it like he often did – but instead, it cracked him in the hand on the way down.
(Smashing begins at 1:14)
So naturally the tour had to be cancelled with the band’s dynamic, incendiary lead guitarist suddenly unable to play. But it was just a great reminder of just how insane the guy went when it came time to smash his guitars into dust. He didn’t smash his guitars so much as mercilessly beat them into oblivion, as if the soul of Satan was stuck inside.
These video clips should do justice to that claim. Here’s a collection of Blackmore bashing his guitars into smithereens throughout the ’70s and ’80s.
The move that broke a finger:
(Smashing begins at 0:11 – this isn’t the actual time Ritchie broke his finger, but you can see how it was inevitably going to happen!)
California Jam, 1974:
(Smashing begins immediately!)
(Smashing begins at 4:45)
Rainbow Live in 1981:
(Smashing begins at 3:21)
(Smashing begins at 0:34 – this was AFTER he returned from his broken finger!)
(Smashing begins at 2:44)
Who was your favorite guitar smasher?
— Matt Doloff, WZLX/Boston