zzxd | Iconic guitars: British and an Irish man (5)


#5 Iconic guitars: British and an Irish man

In this column: blackie, greeny, ex-sunburst

BLACKIE - Eric Clapton

Of the hundreds of guitars that blues-rock legend Eric Clapton had his favorite was one that he had a hand in designing.
In 1970 Eric was at Sho-Bud guitar shop in Nashville and saw in a back room of the shop a rack of vintage Strats from the 1950s. Steve Winwood's white Fender had sparked his interest in Stratocasters. Eric said: "they were so out of fashion you could pick up a perfectly genuine Strat for two hundred or three hundred dollars—even less! So I bought all of them."

Stevie Winwood with his strat olympic white

Clapton gave one to Pete Townshend, one to Steve Winwood and another to George Harrison. He kept the three remaining guitars to himself, one of which was 1956 black strat. He liked the idea of having a black Strat, but he preferred the neck of another one of the guitars. The legendary Nashville luthier Ted Newman Jones put together the ultimate guitar with parts from all three guitars; "Blackie".
Jone used the ’56 Strat’s alder body with its black lacquer finish and the one-piece maple neck with its hard “V” shape from a ’57. The pickups were all standard Strat pickups; two were original from the mid-50s, and a third was from 1970.

Blackie front and back; Eric does not use a tremolo bar, so the tremolo is tilted on the body and springs are tightly tensioned

BLACKIE - Eric Clapton

The guitar would be Clapton’s main axe for the next dozen years. In 2004, she was sold at auction to benefit Clapton’s Crossroads Centre, in Antigua. At the time of the auction, she raised a record-setting of $959,500.

Badge - Eric Clapton (1977)

GREENY 59 BURST- Peter Green, Gary Moore, Kirk Hammett

Peter Green (Peter Allen Greenbaum) was an English blues singer-guitarist and one of the founders of Fleetwood Mac and the British blues.
In 1966, Green bought a second-hand guitar, during his bluesbreaker days, at the Selmers store in Charing Cross for £ 144. The Les Paul 59 sounded unlike other Gibsons; one of the pick-ups was fitted the wrong way around and when both pick-ups are played in the middle position, the instrument sounds more like a Fender Strat than a Gibson Les Paul.
The pickup was installed that way from the start as a factory error. Legendary guitar tech Jol Dantzig confirmed this, when he examined the guitar in 1984. This error wasn’t limited to Peter Green’s Les Paul, Joe Bonamassa also owns a burst Les Paul from the same era with the same defect.

Green, Moore and Hammett and Greeny

In 1970 Green sold it to Northern Irish guitarist Gary Moore (was 18 at the time) for all the money Moore could get by selling his Gibson SG guitar.
Gary said: “I had an SG and sold it for £160 and he came up to my flat for the money and gave me 40 or 50 quid back! He said, ‘I’ll tell you what, I’ll just take what I paid for it, which was 120 quid."
Subsequently, the guitar was involved in a car accident when a lorry went into the back of Gary’s car at Chiswick Flyover. “I just opened the boot and although the guitar was in a flight case, its neck was completely broken. But we got it repaired amazingly well, we put a steel bolt in the neck - it was in a terrible state, though.”
Gary named the guitar Greeny.

Joe with ‘Lazarus’ – the 1959 Les Paul he had restored to its original glory – performing a live streaming concert from Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium in September 2020

In 2006 Gary sold it to Phil Winfield at Maverick Guitars for somewhere between $750,000 and $1.2 million. In 2016, Kirk Hammett of Metallica bought the guitar for a reported $2 million.
Thus, the guitar became the unique specimen that was owned by three important guitarists.

2014 Peter Green, Kirk Hammett showing Greeny: The Gibson Les Paul Standaard "Burst" 1958-1960 with a mahogany body and a figured two-piece maple top, a mahogany neck with rosewood fretboard and PAF humbuckers

Oh well - Fleetwood Mac with Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer guitar

EX-SUNBURST - Rory Gallagher

Irish born guitar slinger, Rory Gallagher, bought in 1963 a 1961 Fender Sunburst Stratocaster in a local music store. A guitarist ordered a Fiesta Red, just like Hank Marvin from The Shadows, but Fender shipped a Sunburst. After that guitar arrived after six months, the Sunburst was put up for sale second-hand. Rory only paid £100 for it.

Gallagher’s 1961 Stratocaster, photographed in front of his extensive record collection

At the time, a Fender was a rarity and the man who later stole Rory's guitar didn't know what to do after a national call was made on Irish radio and threw it in a ditch. That way the guitar got its first damage.
The guitar was heavily modified. The neck had to be removed and dried out several times due to Gallagher’s profuse sweating on stage. Rory's rare and highly acidic blood type acted as a paint stripper, removing most of the varnish and the original Sunburst pattern. Because of its appearance, fans began calling the guitar, the “Ex-Sunburst".

Fender met Donal Gallagher, brother of Gallagher, in Los Angeles in 1997 and received his guitar. The Rory Gallagher Tribute Stratocaster guitar is an exact replica of that revered instrument: a extremely worn Three-color Sunburst alder body, maple neck and rosewood fingerboard, five Sperzel tuners and one Gotoh, the 12th-fret dot marker is white plastic, three custom-wound '60s single-coil pickups, aged chrome hardware, 21 medium jumbo frets and a synthetic bone nut.

After his death in 1995, the guitar was retired by his brother, Donal.

Bad Penny- Rory Gallagher (1982)

Sources: happy bluesman, tdpri.com, Thomas Moon: The Verdict Of Big Joe Williams, weeniecampbell.com, BBC news, Talkin' to myself: Blues lyrics, Michael Taft, digitalcitizen.ca, federalcigarjugband.com, pancocojams.blogspot.nl, americanbluesscene.com, YouTube, Wikipedia, Hudson Motors Compagny, Archive Minneapolis, The Cruel Plains, M.H.Price a.o., truewestmagazine.com, The Austin Chronicle, Cambridge Free English Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary, TheSaurus.com, dragonjazz.com/grablue/blues_travel, Encyclopedia of African American Popular Culture, Blues by Paul Breman, Blues by David Harrison, Quora.com, urbandictionary.com, Blogs.loc.gov, The Ballad Hunter by Alan Lomax, Black Pearls: Blues Queens of the 1920th by Daphne Duval Harrison, jopiepopie.blogspot.nl, redhotjazz.com, The Blues Lyrics Formula by Michael Taft, American Ballads and Folk Songs by Alan Lomax and John Avery Lomax, The Past Is Not Dead: Essays from the  Southern Quarterly by Douglas B. Chambers, EarlyBlues.com, railroad-line.com,  Jason Lee Davis' RailFan Pages , centertruthjustice.org