Tom Petersson's "Schmata"

There has been considerable discussion about what Tom Petersson had hanging from the neck of his original Hamer Quad Bass during the Cheap Trick concerts at Budokan, Japan in 1978. For lack of a better term it has been referred to as the Schmata, which is Yiddish for "rag". Theories about its true nature include a tie-dyed scarf, a feather boa, a macramé plant holder, long fringe or a device that allows him to communicate with extra-terrestrials. Here are a few pictures of the infamous Schmata from the 1978 Budokan concerts. It is likely that it was a gift from a Japanese fan or perhaps something Tom found on a shopping trip.


"Look deep into my schmata, you're getting sleepy!"

The following pictures are from a Japanese music magazine that covered the 1978 and 1979 Budokan concerts. An enlargement of the Schmata is shown from each page.



It seems clear from the upper photo that the Schmata is multi-segmented, perhaps like a collection of long braided lengths of tie-dyed fringe. While the scarf and boa theories seem to have been completely discredited by these photos, the macramé plant holder is still in the running! However, I'll stick with my extra-terrestrial theory until they deny it.

Everybody wants to get into the act!


Cheap Trick Shopping in Japan

This Japanese magazine cover shows the members of Cheap Trick on a shopping spree right before the Budokan concerts. A close-up reveals Tom carrying a shopping bag of sufficient size to contain the Schmata, so apparently Tom bought the Schmata himself! The caption for the photo, translated from Japanese, reads, "Tom Petersson demonstrates his Disappearing Schmata trick. The Schmata has been magically transported from his outstretched hand into the shopping bag in the blink of an eye." Well, at least that's my translation!

The Schmata Mystery Solved!

We now have proof of the actual nature of Tom's Schmata. The correct name for it is Senbazuru. The Senbazuru is made by the Japanese paper folding art of origami. It is composed of 1,000 colored origami cranes strung in rows. Cranes are considered to be a sign of good luck, and the Senbazuru is often left at a temple with hopes that a wish will be granted. While there are many different ways to fold an origami crane, it appears that the color sequence often follows a traditional pattern. These are very similar color patterns to the one exhibited by Tom's Senbazuru.

The fact that this is made from paper explains why Tom only used this on stage for a short time. It certainly would not withstand the punishment of repeated CT concerts.

Drawing of an origami crane from an 18th Century Japanese manuscript

The Schmata Was Used After Budokan

These photos show the Schmata being used two months after the Budokan concerts. They were taken in Buffalo, NY in June of 1978. The Schmata is starting to come apart, particularly the red section at the top. It appears Tom tied this section into a bow.

Thanks to Bruce for sending us these photos!