The Who’s Roger Daltrey on How It Felt to Smash a Guitar: “Like Killing [My] Wife”

Few things are as synonymous with rebellious, raucous, no-good rock ‘n’ roll as finishing a set by smashing a guitar — be it Kurt Cobain, Phoebe Bridgers, or Pete Townshend. When it comes to the latter, however, bandmate and The Who frontman Roger Daltrey might not have the same drive to use his axe like… well, an axe. In fact, Daltrey has compared smashing a guitar to breaking the neck of something (or someone) else he holds close to his heart: his wife.

During his recent appearance on Shaun Keaveny’s Daily Grind podcast, Daltrey described the one time he engaged in such destruction, as well as the guilt that followed. “The trouble is the guitar was worth 50 gigs,” Daltrey said. “I’ve only ever smashed one guitar and I’m really sorry I did it.”

To illustrate just how deep his feelings of shame ran, Daltrey turned to the surprisingly violent analogy. “I don’t know why, just this thing came over me,” he went on to say. “I’ve always regretted it — I thought, ‘I shouldn’t have done that, that was like killing the wife.’”


Related Video

Listen to the full episode below. The discussion about smashing guitars begins around 17:17.

It’s an interesting perspective for Daltrey to put forth, as his bandmate Townshend became quite famous for snapping his guitars in half during shows. The Who drummer Keith Moon also showed a penchant for instrument demolition. Though not a guitar, Moon famously rigged his drum kit with gunpowder during a 1967 appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, leading to expectedly explosive results.

Unfortunately for American fans, whether The Who concerts feature any guitar smashing is somewhat of a moot point. Daltrey has been candid about the increasing costs of touring, stating that he was “very doubtful” when it came to the prospect of a United States run.

English fans, on the other hand, can catch the band at the 2024 Teenage Cancer Trust concert series, which Daltrey organized. Running from March 19th to March 24th, Noel Gallagher, Eddie Vedder, Robert Plant, and other acts round out the event’s bill. (Somewhat ironically, it’s worth noting that the concert series’ logo features a guitarist mid-smash. To celebrate Daltrey’s last year as an organizer, you can even purchase a limited edition figurine of the guitar smasher.)