Doesn’t Pete Townshend hurt his hand when he does that windmill thing on the guitar?

Even worse than you think. During a 1989 Who concert in Tacoma, Washington, Townshend missed the encore when he sliced open his hand on his guitar strings and was rushed to the hospital. During another show that year, Townshend actually impaled his right palm on the guitar’s whammy bar. Plus, the guitar strings routinely get underneath his fingernails and rip them off. This means he starts to bleed, and when the guitar pick gets bloody, it becomes slippery and hard to hold. “It is terribly painful,” Townshend said in 1994. But he relishes it: “I think, ‘This is it. I’ve arrived. It is the place where I should be, like a boxer in the middle of a fight.'” Of course, before his painful hearing loss, he used to take the same pleasure in how physically punishing the Who’s loud amplifiers were–there’s a masochistic element in his onstage abandon.

(Excerpted from the 2006 book Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton’s Little John?: Music’s Most Enduring Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed, published by Three Rivers Press, written by Gavin Edwards.)