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The famed 1954 Les Paul Custom “Black Beauty” formerly owned and played by the man himself sold at auction for $335,500 this week to Indianapolis Colts football franchise owner Jim Irsay. Irsay’s “guitar curator” Christopher McKinney placed the bid and came away with the iconic instrument. Speaking to the New York Times, McKinney summed the guitar up as follows, via Michael Molenda’s blog at Guitar Player:

We know the importance of the guitar historically. This guitar was used by Les in recordings, in television. It was his main guitar for innovations. It shows his thinking and progress as an inventor. A lot of the things that were done to this guitar went on to become industry standard.

Read much more, including the tale of the guitar’s controversial legacy, at Guitar Player.

Right here.

Guitarist Sam Andrew, founding member of Big Brother & the Holding Company, has died at 73. According to the band’s Facebook page, via Billboard:

Yesterday, ten weeks after his heart attack and the open-heart surgery that followed it, Sam lost his gallant fight to hold onto the life he lived so well. He lived his life in music and art and a loving marriage. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Read more at Billboard.
Right here.

The list of guitars that have become as iconic as their owners is short: B.B. King’s “Lucille,” Eddie Van Halen’s “Frankenstrat,” and certainly Willie Nelson’s battered Martin known as “Trigger” come to mind. Rolling Stone has released a mini-documentary focused on Nelson’s instrument which, according to Chron.com reveals:

Trigger and Nelson met in 1969 when Nelson needed a guitar that had the same tone as the one used by influential guitarist Django Reinhardt, one of his idols. He named the guitar Trigger after Roy Rogers’ famous steed. In a way the guitar Trigger has been just like Rogers’ trusty horse.

Read more and watch the piece at Chron.com.

Right here.

WIZARD

WIZARD

Wizard Amplification has been around for more than 25 years and their site boasts a roster of artists ranging from Angus Young to Garth Brooks. This ad was scanned from Guitar Player, March 1996.

Robin Trower’s album Bridge of Sighs has endured for more than 40 years, owing to its perfect storm of songs, playing, and production. Trower recently revealed the (lack of) secret weapon to a Guitar World reader:

There was no magic 100-watt Marshall or special guitar. Almost everything I owned was pretty new. I just went to Manny’s, the legendary guitar shop in New York City, and listened to about six or eight Strats acoustically and settled on a black one and a white one.

Read more from Robin Trower’s installment of “Dear Guitar Hero” at GW.
Right here.

Among the untold number of fantastic guitars being unveiled at NAMM 2015 are B.C. Rich’s new take on their classic Mockingbird, the Contour and Contour X models. What’s the deal? From Guitar Player:

In the past, the ability to duplicate the sleek and sultry details of the custom shop have been hard to reproduce on a factory floor, but new technology and production methods bring the Contour to fruition. Although it is not the first production Mockingbird to have an arched top, it is the first to come anywhere close to what was being done in the handcrafted shop.

Read more at GP.
Right here.

We’ve lost an American musical icon: James Cecil “Little Jimmy” Dickens has died at 94. The Country Music Hall of Fame member performed at the Grand Ole Opry as recently as 12.20.14. CMT sums up Dickens in brief:

A diminutive bundle of energy in his 1950s and 1960s heyday, Dickens wowed country fans with a pleasing mix of his tiny size and an incongruous gum-popping swagger. Also known for his self-deprecating humor, he often called himself ‘Willie Nelson after taxes.’ Famous for classic comedy novelties like “Out Behind the Barn,” Dickens sang with incomparable heart such love ballads as ‘We Could’ (and) ‘Another Bridge to Burn.’

Go listen to some Little Jimmy Dickens and read more at CMT.

Right here.

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