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    Sale 5397

    Popular Culture: Rock & Pop Memorabilia

    10 July 2008, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 124

    Pete Townshend/The Who

    Price Realised  


    Pete Townshend/The Who
    A late 1967 Gibson SG Special, Serial No.884484, Stamped 2, in cherry red finish, double cutaway mahogany body, mahogany neck, Grover machine heads, 22 fret bound rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays, two P90 pickups, four rotary controls, selector switch, metal bridge, black pickguard bound in white, tailpiece removed; and an original black hardshell Gibson contour case with scarlet plush lining -- owned and used by Pete Townshend in circa early 1970s - early 1980s; accompanied by a signed letter from Pete Townshend concerning the provenance in which he states that this ...Gibson SG Special guitar...must be one of the few passing through my hands, which has survived without getting smashed..., although Townshend cannot recall when he first got this guitar, he states that before he gave it away to former Who crew member Tony Haslam in the early 1980s ...I used it at home as my principle guitar of this type for use on my demo recordings... and that he regards this instrument ...as one of my 'special' guitars along with a single Les Paul Deluxe modified for stage use, and a 1952 Telecaster... (3)

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    The Gibson SG in cherry red finish is the model of guitar most readily identified with Pete Townshend's dynamic stage work with The Who between 1968 and 1973. Townshend preferred to use SG's made between 1966-1970, when Gibson changed their specs for this model in 1971, Townshend's preference remained with the earlier models and in an interview published in Guitar Player Magazine, May/June 1972 he commented: ....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.... Tony Haslam recalls him regularly buying 4 or 5 of these models at a time. He would almost always modify these guitars, removing the tailpiece and tremolo arm to leave visible screwholes as with the guitar in this lot. In an interview published in Sounds International, April, 1980 Townshend gave his reasons for using these early SGs and his modifications, he first used them as the pickups on them really suited his amplifiers but he felt the SGs ...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.... Townshend also admitted in a talk organised by Barnes & Noble in May 2001 that over the years: ...at a rough guess [he'd destroyed] around 200 guitars... on stage.

    It appears from his letter that Townshend gave this guitar to Haslam in gratitude for the help he gave him in facing up to his problem with alcohol addiction in the early 1980s. Tony Haslam is selling this guitar to cover medical expenses for himself and for another former Who crew member, Mike Shaw, who was injured in a car crash whilst working for the band in 1965.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    A. Neill and M. Kent Op. cit 2002