ICONIC GUITARS AND THEIR LEGENDARY PLAYERS
John Lennon and Rickenbacker 325
John Lennon and Rickenbacker 325 Rock ‘n’ roll legend John Lennon shot to super stardom as the founder, co-songwriter, co-lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of the Beatles. His legendary song writing partnership with Paul McCartney is still lauded as one of the most remarkable in music history. After the Beatles split, Lennon also embarked on a massively successful solo career.
For guitar aficionados, Lennon can also be credited with causing an explosion in popularity of the now iconic Rickenbacker. It was in the late 1950s when a fresh faced, and still unknown, John Lennon saw his dream instrument hanging in a Hamburg guitar shop. The guitar in question was a natural-finish 1958 Rickenbacker 325. It was love at first sight. Beatles lead guitarist George Harrison, who was also on the fated shopping trip, later told the BBC that John needed a decent guitar and that the Rickenbacker just happened to be in the shop and caught his eye, a classic example of musical serendipity. The iconic 325 would become the instantly recognisable sound of Beatles rhythm guitar during the years they shot into the stratosphere of fame and success, from 1960 to around ’65. You can admire its distinctive sound on Beatles classics “All My Loving,” “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.
Elvis Presley and Gibson Dove
The undisputed original King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley was one of America’s greatest musical artists. Incredible magnetism, a hauntingly distinctive voice, and a colourful lifestyle combined to make Elvis one of the 20th century's most recognisable cultural icons.
Although best known for his soulful voice, The King is a somewhat underrated as a guitarist. In fact, the Man in Black (a.k.a. Johnny Cash) cites Elvis as “a fabulous rhythm player” in his co- authored 1997 autobiography, Cash: The Autobiography. Elvis played multiple Gibson acoustic and electric guitars throughout his career, passing through a range of styles from the raw and raucous numbers at the beginning of his career to the more introspective later work. The Gibson Elvis Dove in Ebony is based on a customised 1969 Gibson Dove that was gifted to The King by his father, Vernon Presley. Elvis played it in concert regularly from 1971 through to 1975, including most memorably during the legendary satellite televised Aloha from Hawaii concert in 1973. The sound, look, and feel of Gibson instruments have since played a significant role in American musical history, a prominence that can only have been helped by their association with The King.
Eric Clapton and Gibson Firebird
Legendary British rock musician and singer-songwriter Eric Clapton has become one of the most celebrated and influential guitarists of all time with a career that now spans almost half a century. Born into a musical family, Clapton asked for a guitar for his 13th birthday, marking the start of a journey that culminated in him becoming the only triple inductee into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
Clapton is inextricably linked to Gibson electric guitars, building his reputation for guitar virtuosity on the back of Gibson's distinctive, rich and resonant tones. His love affair with the brand began when Clapton purchased his first Gibson in 1964 – a beauty in the form of a 1964
Cherry Red Gibson ES-335. He used this guitar faithfully for 4 years before eventually selling it at auction for what can only be described as a spectacular profit. In 1965, Clapton purchased a second-hand Cherry Sunburst 1960 Gibson Les Paul. The sound that Clapton created in this early stage of his career was unlike anything that audiences had heard before, arguably decades ahead of its time, and is still widely regarded as the gold standard of electric-blues guitar music.