Tag Archives: Gibson SG

Smash palace

Pete Townshend’s career as the avatar of guitar destruction began by accident — during a Who gig in 1964, he broke the headstock of his Rickenbacker on the low Guitar smashceiling and smashed the rest of the instrument in frustration — but once it began he pursued it diligently enough to warrant a Web page devoted solely to his ex-axes. As someone who loves guitars for their sheer beauty as well as their musical qualities, I deplore any such demolition, but it’s particularly painful to see havoc being wrought on a gorgeous Gibson Les Paul Custom, the instrument being maltreated in this poster for the Who movie, The Kids Are Alright. I mean, look at this thing. Why on earth would anybody want to smash something like that? Even if it would make for a great climax on “Won’t Get Fooled Again”?

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Blue Monday

Maybe it’s the sight of a devil-horned Gibson SG — the signature guitar of Angus Young and Pete Townsend — being slung by an impeccably dressed sanctified church lady, but I love these videos of Sister Rosetta Tharpe in action.

Check out those solo moves. Tharpe was already playing fierce guitar at the age of six and her voice, with its powerful resonant vibrato, grew in tandem with her playing. Tharpe’s style bridged gospel and blues, and almost from the start she carried herself with a sense of style and theatricality rarely seen in gospel at the time. Her recording career started in 1938 and throughout World War II her popularity grew to the point where she was one of only two black gospel acts to record V-Discs for distribution to soldiers overseas. But when she recorded some straight blues sides in the Fifties, her gospel base all but abandoned her and Tharpe fell into obscurity. She continued to perform, though, and by the Sixties her credibility with gospel audiences had grown enough to win her gigs alongside gospel legend James Cleveland.

Tharpe’s career is chronicled in Gayle F. Wald’s recent book Shout, Sister, Shout!

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