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Tag: Peter Green

Guitar of the day

Peter Green 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard
Peter Green 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard

One of the most famous and highly collectable vintage guitars of all time, the infamous Peter Green Les Paul. Most Blues fans will know that as well as being revered for his amazing tone and unmistakeable vibrato, B.B. King once remarked “He has the sweetest tone I ever heard. He’s the only one who gave me the cold sweats.”, over the years Peter’s Les Paul has built up a similar legend in guitar folklore. Now in the hands of a private collector, it made it’s journey through Peter Greens hands and into the arms of Gary Moore who put it to good use on a number of his albums and live shows. Earlier on in his career, Peter Green played a  Harmony Meteor, a cheap hollow-body guitar, but quickly started playing a  Gibson Les Paul with  The Bluesbreakers after he replaced Eric Clapton in the band. Green’s guitar was often referred to as his “magic guitar”. “I never had a magic one. Mine wasn’t magic…It just barely worked” said Green in 2000. “I stumbled across one when I was looking for something more powerful than my Harmony Meteor. I went into Selmer’s in Charing Cross Road [central London] and tried one. It was only £110 and it sounded lovely and the color was really good. But the neck was like a tree trunk… It was very different from Eric’s Les Paul, which was slim with a very fast action.”

In part, his unique tone derived from a modification to the neck  pickup which was reversed and rewired, a modification made after 1967. For anyone looking to modify their guitar in the same way, we found a link to a nice blog here on how to perform the tone mod in detailed steps http://www.geetarz.org/axes/green.htm

It was in the early 70’s when Green passed the guitar over to Gary Moore. Peter was suffering from mental health problems and would put his guitar down for the best part of 8 years. At the time, the Irishman was a friend and close neighbor of Green’s in London. Green initially tried to give the Les Paul to him on the understanding that he could ask for it back when he was well enough to play again but Moore insisted on paying the £110 that it originally cost and Peter Green never did ask for it to be returned. Once in the hands of Gary Moore, the guitar went on to be used on a number of recordings, most notably the ‘Blues For Greeny’ album of Fleetwood Mac covers dedicated to the orginal owner. Green used it extensively until he sold the guitar in 2006.

Peter Green and Gary Moore with the 1959 Les Paul Standard
Peter Green and Gary Moore with the 1959 Les Paul Standard

Gary Moore explained why he parted ways with the iconic instrument: “It’s a long story. The instrument itself was a very special instrument, obviously. But it got to the point where I couldn’t take it anywhere. I didn’t want to sell it. I had to sell it for various reasons because I injured my hand a few years ago and the insurance didn’t pay up, and I had to cover the tour costs for canceled shows with my own money, and I didn’t get paid for any of the shows, obviously, or for anything. I ended up with debt. So it was kind of a financial thing, really, and that was the quickest way to do anything about it. So I never wanted to sell it. I mean, why would I? I kept the other ’59 Les Paul and I sold that one. That guitar was played by Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Rory Gallagher played it, and I’ve played it. It was a very special instrument. Les Pauls are all so different. That one is a big old battle axe. Peter Green never really liked that guitar because the neck was too big. He wanted me to have it because he said he wanted it to go to a good home.” Taken from Interactive Guitar

Guitar of the day

Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard “Keith Burst” Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard

A very well known and documented guitar with the most incredible provenance that has etched its mark on the eternal pages of rock ‘n’ roll history, most notably with the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton. The guitar is an original 1959 Les Paul Standard that was purchased new in March 1961 from Farmers Music Store in Luton, United Kingdom, by John Bowen. John played with Mike Dean & the Kinsmen and he had a Bigsby Vibrato fitted at Selmer’s in London before trading the guitar in there for a Gretsch Country Gentleman in late 1962. The guitar was later purchased by Keith Richards, who was playing guitar in a little known outfit called the Rolling Stones. Keith Richards used this guitar extensively in the early days of the Rolling Stones and it was seen regularly from autumn 1964 until 1966 when Keith began to favour a Les Paul Custom. Appearances on ‘Ready Steady Go’ and classic songs like ‘The Last Time’ and ‘Satisfaction’ have been played on this guitar. There are many great photographs of Keith and the guitar. Keith was the first major rock star to use a ‘Burst’; he was probably partly responsible for inspiring both Clapton and Page to pick up Les Pauls. Keith owned and used a Les Paul Standard way before Clapton had one, before Jeff Beck, before Peter Green, before Jimmy Page, Mike Bloomfield, Joe Walsh, Billy Gibbons, Duane Allman etc. (need we go on?).

Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard

Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard

Keith sold the guitar to Mick Taylor in 1967 when Taylor had replaced Peter Green (who in turn had replaced Eric Clapton) in John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers. The Bluesbreakers’ classic British Blues sound was forged when Clapton plugged a ‘Burst’ into a Marshall JTM45 combo and Peter Green followed suit, later selling his ‘Burst’ to Gary Moore. Taylor had stood in for Clapton when he failed to show for a gig one night and ended up playing Clapton’s own Les Paul, so it was inevitable that the young Taylor would go for the same guitar and he exclusively played this Les Paul up to his joining The Rolling Stones two years later. Before Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page was a red hot session musician who cut his teeth on a 3-pickup Les Paul Custom fitted with a Bigsby. It is possible that Jimmy considered buying the ‘Keith Burst’ from Richards or maybe just used it in the studio? We aren’t entirely sure but we know that Jimmy used the guitar on at least one mid 60’s recording session. Eric Clapton used the ‘Keith Burst’ in 1966 with Cream at the Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival. There are several photographs of Clapton with this very guitar at the concert. Maybe Clapton borrowed it from Keith?

Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard

Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard

Mick Taylor made his live debut with the Rolling Stones at the famous Hyde Park concert in July 1969 after the shocking premature death of Stones guitarist Brian Jones. The concert was immortalised by Granada Television, who filmed and released it as ‘The Stones In The Park’. Taylor used the guitar to play ‘No Expectations’ and ‘Love In Vain’; Taylor was also filmed with it backstage in the band’s dressing room trailer before the show. The guitar appears next on the Rolling Stones’ 1969 tour of America, when Keith and Taylor both played it; the film ‘Gimme Shelter’ documents Keith using it for ‘Honky Tonk Women’. There are also many photos of Mick Jagger with the guitar at some 1970 recording sessions, which may be the last documentation of this instrument in the hands of the Rolling Stones. Its disappearance is shrouded in mystery and controversy: Rumour has it that the guitar was stolen in 1971, either from the Marquee Club during the Stones’ ‘Farewell Tour’ of the UK, or from Nellcote in southern France during the recording of ‘Exile on Main Street’. Dave Brewis of Rock Stars’ Guitars recounts a story he heard from the next owner, Cosmo Verrico, who played guitar with the Heavy Metal Kids, who were signed to Atlantic Records alongside the Stones. The story goes that a Stones representative gave the guitar to Cosmo to replace one that was stolen. What is definite is that Cosmo did own the guitar until 1974, when he sold the guitar to Bernie Marsden of Whitesnake. Bernie owned the guitar for a little over a week. He sold it to guitar enthusiast Mike Jopp and thought he had done well when he made £50 profit. Mike Jopp owned the guitar until 2003 when it was sold to a private investor. The ‘Keith Burst’ was next seen in late 2004 when it was offered up for auction by Christie’s in New York. A private collector purchased the guitar in 2006 and it currently resides in Europe. Taken from Richard Henry Guitars

Mick Taylor with Keith Richards 1959 Les Paul Standard
Mick Taylor with the “Keith Burst” 1959 Les Paul Standard