While not my first musical crush—that would be the Sex Pistols—the Who introduced me to a branch of rock’s family tree blessedly devoid of hirsute hippies yodeling about fairies and elves between 20-minute guitar solos. And I love them still.
So like any Who fan, I noted the death last week of Gustav Metzger. While a student at the Ealing School of Art, Pete Townshend had been inspired by performance artist Metzger and his theories of auto-destructive art, which Metzger conceived of as “a desperate last-minute subversive political weapon…an attack on the capitalist system.”
His resulting displays, passing condemnatory Marxist judgment on everything from the Nazism that had killed Metzger’s parents—he had come to England with the Kindertransport—to rampant post-rationing consumerism and the supposedly ever-looming threat of nuclear war, were fueled by the spirit of demolition rather than creativity in the traditional sense.