Springsteen's vase smashing tribute to Pete Townshend
Boss recalls seeing The Who at his first-ever rock show - and the high school stunt it inspired
Bruce Springsteen has told how he smashed a vase at a high school show in tribute to The Who's Pete Townshend.
The 16-year-old Boss saw the UK band as support act for Herman's Hermits – and even though it was a short performance, it was his first-ever rock show and he's never forgotten it.
Speaking at the 11th annual MusiCares MAP Fund benefit concert in New York, where Townshend was honoured, Springsteen said: "They played for no more than 30 minutes, before Pete demolished his guitar, bashing it over and over into the floor. All I knew was, for some reason, this music and the demolishing of these perfectly fine instruments filled me with incredible joy."
He decided to emulate the stunt when his band The Castiles played a school show the following week. "I went out and I bought a smoke bomb and a strobe light, and I brought them over to the gig. As the night neared its end, not being able to smash my guitar — It was the only one I had – I lit the smoke bomb in the school basement. I turned on the strobe light and I climbed on top of my Danelectro amplifier, holding a vase of flowers stolen from a classroom.
"With this huge flourish I raised the vase of flowers as the flickering, blinding strobe lit me with the smoke all around me. And as the nuns looked on in horror, I reached up and smashed them onto the dance floor. Then I jumped off the amp and I stomped all over the petunias, putting them into an early death."
But Springsteen admitted it was a poor copy of Townshend's act. "I looked ridiculous, like I lost my mind," he said. "The vase simply failed to have the grandeur of a newly-minted Telecaster being smashed to splinters. But, we worked with what we had."
He added: "I went home smiling, feeling like I had a blood bond with Pete Townshend – and I never looked back."
The MusiCares show included a musical tribute to The Who, featuring Joan Jett, Billy Idol and others. Springsteen joined the band for a rendition of My Generation. The Who last year hinted that a new album could be on the way, as they celebrated their 50th anniversary. They headline the British Summer Time festival in London's Hyde Park on June 26.