Professional Guitar Smashing Consultant
Written by Sean Nitchmann
[Performer walks on stage with a guitar in hand]
My name is Moondog.
I’m a professional guitar smashing consultant.
I’ve been in the business for a number of years, you may have seen the ad for my video “Moondog’s Techniques for Guitar Smashing and Drum Kicking for the Novice and Professional” in the back of Rolling Stone Magazine. I love what I do because I do what I love, and that’s teaching musicians of all abilities the proper way to destroy their instrument.
While I’m sure that you’d like to get straight to the demonstration, let me first give you a little of my background. I started as a roadie for Foghat in 1977. As you may remember, the scourge of Disco had just infected America. Those were dark times. Much of the Rock and Roll audience had abandoned the genre to shake their booties and do the Bump or Hustle at their local discothèque and roller rink. One night after a particularly ill-received concert, I was invited to an impromptu back stage brain storming session with the members of Foghat and their manager to formulate a new direction for the band. In a stroke of genius I suggested that at the end of the second encore, as the finale to “Fool for the City” built in to a crescendo, Lonesome Dave Peverett the lead guitarist for Foghat should smash his guitar and throw the remains into the audience. I proceeded to show the band in physical terms how to enact my suggestion. Unfortunately, I destroyed Lonesome Dave’s favorite guitar. I was promptly fired, kicked off the tour, stranded in Cleveland Ohio and later forced to pay for the guitar. Yet, I knew I had found my calling, and quite frankly I believe I’ve had the last laugh.
Luckily, I was recommended by another roadie to help Pete Townsend of the Who regain his once great guitar smashing abilities. Pete Townsend as I’m sure you know, is the originator of the instrument destruction performance. In the late seventies, he had lost his muse and had taken to simply flicking his pick into the audience at the end of the show. His taste for the ultimate in Rock and Roll catharsis had been eaten away by years of hard drinking, drugs and personal trauma. I was hired by his handlers to help him regain his abilities. We were whisked away to a secret location in the Scottish Isles for three months of intensive re-training. I started him slowly, smashing only ukuleles and banjos at first until he regained his confidence. Soon, we were bringing in truckloads of Fender’s and Gibson’s hot off the production line for Mr. Townsend to practice with. Alas, on the eve of a concert in which Mr. Townsend was to debut his new found abilities, Keith Moon the Who’s drummer was found dead, suffocated by his own vomit. Thus ended the Who, and Mr. Townsend has never smashed another guitar. I still get a Christmas card from him every year though.
My reputation for instrument smashing instruction had been cemented. I was in great demand throughout the music industry. As MTV came in to being, Rock and Roll Audiences were not content with staid, unremarkable concert performances. The desire for more elaborate onstage destruction and mayhem had grown and record executives felt the need to give the audiences what they wanted. I formed a full pyrotechnic and stage effects production company. We provided solutions to all of the touring industry’s needs for enhanced performance production. We built stage sets that would catch on fire and explode. We designed a machine for Ozzy Osborn that would propel raw meat into the audience. We devised an illusion for Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister to appear that his hair was on fire. We designed a sling for David Lee Roth of Van Halen that would allow him fly across the audience and not chafe him through his spandex. I feel personally responsible for the success and popularity of the 80’s hair band phenomenon. I mean, it certainly wasn’t the music.
But through it all I always did the instrument smashing instruction myself. I never lost my love for seeing the look in a musicians eyes as he stands before his shattered instrument. The pieces of it strewn across the stage before him. Some musicians take right to the process, others need coaxing. Still others need to be taught restraint. I was once hired to show Angus Young of AC/DC how not to impale audience members with his guitar. When I first started working with Curt Cobain of Nirvana, he was smashing his guitar on himself. Their bassist was never able to kick that habit.
I feel I can teach any musician to destroy their instrument, and tonight I’d like to share some of my techniques with you. Due to time constraints, we’ll only concentrate on smashing the guitar tonight, but next weekend I am giving a demonstration on Microphone Whirling at the senior center and you’re all welcome to attend.
First, there are three things you will need to have before you can begin destroying your guitar. A guitar, a broom, and a tape measure. Get to know the environment you will be in before you start. You can lose the deposit on your apartment very quickly if you do not take the necessary precautions.
I have narrowed guitar smashing down into three main categories. First there’s the Bounce and Stomp. This works well for the older Rock and Roller or the musician that’s maybe too messed up to handle the more involved processes. Next there’s the over the head hammering. This is good for getting the full destruction performance out of a solid bodied electric guitar, it will also work well for any aspiring brass instrument musicians such as a saxaphone or marching band tuba player. Finally, there’s the smash and fling. This is my personal favorite because it involves audience participation.
Now, have any musicians in the audience brought their instruments in for some hands on demonstration? No? All right then, without further ado, I would like to demonstrate the smash and fling. Heads up in the center section here.
[Performer acts out an extended warm up with the guitar, then as he’s about to smash it, the stage manager calls out “Times Up”]
Oh well, check out my video. And remember, the best musicians always come home with an empty case.
"Professional Guitar Smashing Consultant" debuted February 22, 2002, performed by Sean Nitchmann.