“He holds his hand up and blood’s coming out”: Simon Phillips recalls Pete Townshend’s infamous 1989 Stratocaster incident

The Who guitarist drove the whammy bar of his Strat through his hand on stage in 1989.

Pete Townshend

Pete Townshend. Credit: Paul Natkin/Getty

When you purchase through affiliate links on Guitar.com, you may contribute to our site through commissions. Learn more

Simon Phillips has recalled the experience of seeing Pete Townshend‘s Stratocaster incident during a show in 1989.

At the time, Phillips was the touring drummer for The Who on their 1989 tour of America and witnessed an unfortunate incident where the whammy bar of Townshend’s Fender Strat was driven straight through his hand. As Townshend was right in front of the drum kit when it happened, Philips unfortunately bore witness to the whole scene.

Phillips recalls the incident in a video interview with Drumeo, in which he reacts to some of his most famous drum performances.

One of these was the US tour’s show in Tacoma’s Universal Amphitheatre. “That’s where [Pete] had that little accident.” he remembers. “We were playing Won’t Get Fooled Again, Pete’s right in front of my drum kit and he puts his arm up and swings, but it doesn’t come up.

“He looks down, then he looks up at me and he goes [mouths ‘Ow’], because I can’t hear him, we’re playing at 103 decibels on stage. Then he holds his hand up and blood’s coming out.

“I go, ‘Oh, that doesn’t look good’. What happened is he’d gone and put his Stratocaster whammy bar through his hand. We all thought that was the end of the tour.

Phillips revealed that the tour was still able to go on because one of the country’s leading hand surgeons was based in Tacoma. “They got hold of him, looked at his hand, irrigated it, cleaned it, and he said ‘You’re a very lucky man, it missed everything. It just went right through. He gave him some painkillers and said ‘That’s going to be really painful.”

Related Artists


The world’s leading authority and resource for all things guitar.

© 2024 Guitar.com is part of NME Networks.