• Popular Culture: Rock and Pop  auction at Christies

    Sale 5554

    Popular Culture: Rock and Pop Memorabilia

    24 June 2010, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 157

    The Who/Pete Townshend

    Price Realised  


    The Who/Pete Townshend
    A circa 1970/71 SG Standard Custom Order 3 pickup model; serial number 969973, in cherry red finish, double cutaway mahogany body, mahogany neck, 22 fret bound rosewood fingerboard with block inlays, headstock facia with crown motif, three pickups, plastic control plate with five rotary controls and one toggle selector switch, wide tune-o-matic bridge, metal tailpiece, wing style pickguard; Gibson black hardshell case, stencilled on the outside in white block lettering WHO -- owned by Pete Townshend and used during a tour of the USA in 1971; accompanied by a document concerning its provenance

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    The Gibson SG is the model of guitar with which Townshend is probably most closely associated, he used this model guitar almost exclusively on stage between 1968-1973. According to an interview with Townshend, published in Guitar Player magazine, May/June, 1972, Gibson changed the SG's specification in 1971: ...They took the old SG off the market like about a year ago, so we used up every old SG in the country...I raided every music store in the country practically, looking for old SGs... When supplies of 1966 to 1970 models became harder to locate, Townshend briefly used earlier or later models as available, these had the smaller pickguard but by the end of 1973, he switched permanently to using a Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. Townshend would modify his Gibson SGs, often taking off the tailpiece and tremolo arm, as according to him, the guitars ...were a bit weak, which was the only problem; I could actually break them with my bare hands. But that's when I started to develop that technique because you didn't need a tremolo arm. You could do it by just shaking the guitar...

    The accompanying document explains that Townshend lent the SG to the guitarist of the tour's support band Bell & Arc, as he had noticed he was continually snapping strings on his Stratocaster. Later on, when the tour was in New Orleans [29-30 November, 1971], Townshend told the guitarist that he could keep it. Interestingly the recipient notes that the guitar had been modified by Pete prior to him giving him it.

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 17.5% on the buyer's premium.


    From the collection of Brad and Diana Rodgers of www.whocollection.com


    McMICHAEL, Joe and LYONS, 'Irish' Jack The Who Concert File London: Omnibus, 1997 p145.


    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio - April 1998 to January 2007