This odd member of the Les Paul family was produced in limited runs during the mid-1970s. Like its solidbody brethren, it has a gold top and a sharp lower cutaway. But the body is actually semihollow, features two “f” holes, and has a very 335-like upper cutaway and wide bout. Les himself was said to have liked the shape (apparently more than the SG shape, which he did not like), but there wasn’t much of a market for the model. These LP Signatures are rarities as they were produced for only about 5 years with only a few hundred manufactured each year.
: T. Rex - “Electric Warrior.”
Marc Bolan was one of the first rock musicians to gain fame as both a lead vocalist and a lead guitarist. “Electric Warrior,” released in 1971, is widely regarded as the height of Bolan’s guitar prowess. From the snaky lines of “Mambo Sun” to the sliding chords of “Rip Off” (not to mention “Bang A Gong”), Bolan’s style was a mixture of herky jerky rhythms and idiosyncratic leads that make his guitar phrasings as identifiable as his vocals. Reviewers remarked at his ability to make his guitar cough, hiccup, stutter, laugh, cry, and scream.
The cover photo, with Bolan and his trademark Les Paul in front of a rare VampPower stack, did more to cement the image of lead guitarist-as-icon than any album cover since.
During the course of 2011, the state of Alabama is singing the praises of legendary Alabama musicians ranging from Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers to the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. As part of this yearlong celebration of its music history, The Alabama Jammer guitar (or “Bama Jama” as it’s known) was carved in the shape of the state.
It was commissioned from Gibson, which has in the past produced its “USA” guitar in the shape of the lower 48 states, and the instrument has standard Les Paul appointments, with the addition of star inlays. Mike McGuire in the Custom Shop oversaw the creation of the Alabama Jammer. More info about its origins at: http://www.yearofalabamamusic.com/alabama-jammer
: Stevie Ray Vaughan – “Number 1” Stratocaster.
Referred to as “Wife Number 1” (the infamous Lenny was named after his human wife Lenora), this Strat had more body modifications than the Kardashian family. SRV thought it was a ‘59 while his tech Rene Martinez believed it to be a ‘62 or ‘63. Different sources have given the pickups, body, and neck different years, which could account for all the discrepancies. Ray Hennig, who sold the Strat to Stevie, has claimed that it was previously owned by pop singer Christopher Cross who traded it to Ray for a Les Paul. Number One was SRV’s primary guitar for recording and for big gigs, while his other guitars were used for one-off tunes and videos. The guitar’s finish was almost completely worn off, and the neck was replaced/swapped out on at least two occasions. For all its mutations, it was SRV’s favorite guitar and the one that he is most closely associated with. It is currently owned by Jimmie Vaughan.
: Eric Clapton - Gibson Les Paul “Beano.”
This guitar gained fame as the instrument that Clapton used on the 1966 “Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton” album—while playing through a Marshall amp. The Les Paul is known as Beano in reference to the album cover photograph, which depicts Clapton reading “The Beano” comics newspaper, a publication popular in England after World War II. The actual guitar was stolen before Clapton went out on a Cream tour that same year, and few specifics are known. It is believed to have been a 1960 LP, manufactured just before Gibson switched Les Pauls to the SG shape. Part of this dating is due to Clapton remembering it having a slender neck. Clapton made minor modifications to Beano; he removed the pick covers, revealing a double cream PAF in the neck position and a double-black PAF in the bridge position, and he replaced the original tuners.
The fact that the guitar has never been “authentically” found hasn’t stopped Gibson from reissuing it as a Clapton signature model. Several musicians, including Bernie Marsden of the original Whitesnake, are believed to have had Beano in their possession at one time. Whatever its current location, Beano helped establish the Les Paul-through-a-Marshall sound that has been used innumerable times in the four decades since the original disappeared.
Hats off to Niagara Falls, NY which dropped a 10-foot illuminated Les Paul down the side of the Giacomo Hotel to celebrate New Year’s Eve—instead of dropping a ball. Nicely done. Happy 2013 to you all.
We hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!
Did you see Gibson’s Les Paul float in the Macy’s Parade?
: ZZ Top - “Prom Photo”.
This picture shows a very young Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, and Frank Beard in a photo for a Texas prom roundabout 1970 or 1971. Allegedly, the unbearded Billy is holding his “Pearly Gates” 1959 Les Paul (Gibson’s replicas of Pearly Gates sold for $25k). This is the earliest known picture of the band in its current lineup, and one of the last of Reverend Billy without a beard and sunglasses.
Blues-rock guitarist Gary Moore would have been 60 years old today. Moore was one of the most explosive rockers of the past four decades, earning a reputation as a guitarist in bands like Thin Lizzy and Colosseum and later as a popular metal artist in the ’80s. In 1990, Moore switched gears and released “Still Got the Blues”, a tribute to the British blues heroes of his youth, such as Peter Green and Eric Clapton. For the past two decades, he was often seen playing, ironically enough, Peter Green’s famous 1959 Gibson Les Paul ‘Burst’ that Moore had purchased from Green decades earlier. Moore died on February 6, 2011 from a heart attack. Here’s something to remember him by, a live performance of “Don’t Believe a Word” with Thin Lizzy, c. 1978.
: Kim Webber- “Mother-Of-Pearl Les Paul.”
UK luthier Kim Webber refinished this mid-1970s Les Paul Deluxe with mother-of-pearl, gold, and abalone after a customer brought it in covered with plastic triangular inlays. The initial guitar’s finish was ruined by the plastic coating, and the owner wanted to replace it with a shell inlay.
Webber started from scratch, stripped the guitar down, and inlaid the whole tope with the abalone and mother-of-pearl. He then gold-plated all the metal hardware, including frets, with 24-carat gold. Webber spent nearly a year on finishing the guitar. It is currently estimated to be worth about $15,000.