By Brenne Meirowitz
Used Gibson guitars can fetch a whopping return on investment, especially if owned or associated with a famous musician. Take for instance, George Harrison's crimson red 1957 Les Paul Standard - renamed 'Lucy' by Harrison after the redheaded comedian, Lucille Ball. Originally, given to him as a gift from Eric Clapton in August 1968, the guitar made auction history when Christies sold it for $567,500 in December 2004.
Clapton had purchased the used Gibson guitar at Dan Armstrong's guitar shop in New York City. You can hear it being played by George in the Get Back (Let it Be) sessions - particularly on songs later compiled for the Beatles Abbey Road album, the White Album sessions, and notably in solos such as "Not Guilty" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Additionally, 'Lucy' was played in the promotional video for "Revolution."
However, the provenance of Harrison's 'Lucy' is not as neat as first presented. Prior to Clapton acquiring the guitar, it passed through the hands of the Lovin' Spoonful's John Sebastian and then Rick Derringer. Derringer claims that he had it refinished at Gibson's Kalamazoo factory. So, here comes the catch; Derringer claims that the guitar he sent off to Gibson's was a late-'50s Les Paul Goldtop.
According to factory records, the serial number on the rear of the instrument's headstock #7-8789 does indeed correspond with the Goldtop that was shipped from the factory in December 1957. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Derringer stated that after the instrument was refinished, it "just didn't feel the same ... it had changed into an altogether different guitar."
Additionally, according to experts, George's 'Lucy,' cite that the style and typeface of the serial number do not match other instruments of the same vintage. Furthermore, several years after Clapton gave the guitar to Harrison, John Sebastian is photographed in a 1971 picture holding the Goldtop! Apparently, whatever the provenance of George's used Gibson guitar really is, its value to him, and later on to auctioneers, did not diminish, as demonstrated in the burglary and kidnapping story of 'Lucy' to follow.
In the early 1970s, the infamous used Gibson guitar was stolen from Harrison's home in Beverly Hills, where it is reported to have been kept under the rock legend's bed. Sometime thereafter, it ended up for sale at the Guitar Center in Hollywood, where it was sold for $650! Sometime after returning to his native Mexico, the purchaser, also a musician, was contacted by a Harrison representative, requesting that the guitar be returned to Harrison - 'Lucy's' rightful owner.
Eventually, the crimson red 1957 Les Paul Standard was returned to Harrison, but only after the kidnapper was rewarded with a '58 sunburst Les Paul and a Precision bass. George, commenting on this very distressing experience stated, ['Lucy'] "got kidnapped and taken to Guadalajara and I had to buy this Mexican guy a Les Paul to get it back." George's beloved Gibson used guitar remained in his collection until his premature death from cancer in 2001. She was one of several Gibson guitars that Harrison owned.
Written by, Brenne Meirowitz, B.A., M.S., M.A. This article, While George Harrison's
Used Gibson Guitar Gently Weeps was written while researching information about Gibson Guitar Stop.
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