the Gary Moore Blues Album story is at the bottom of the page

 An intersting story from Neil Murray bass player with Colessium, Gary Moore and Whitesnake plus lots more

As I’ve said elsewhere, Gary was very casual in his treatment of the ‘burst when I was in Colosseum II with him in 1975-6, and I’m amazed it wasn’t stolen or trashed during that period. I took it home and gave it a bit of a clean, as it was filthy, and unscrewed the pickups from the body (no unsoldering) to help do this. Somehow I couldn’t get the neck pickup to go back in the reverse position, but as we now know, it was the faulty repair inside the pickup that gave the guitar its unique sound, not the fact that the pickup was around the wrong way. If Gary had been concerned, he could have got a repairman to put it back to reverse position, but he didn’t. No doubt some people think I should be shot!

 “The original case was in a bad state, with no handle and stickers on it, and some, if not all, of the original control knobs had been replaced with newer ones of the wrong design (hatbox style, I think). When I first played with Gary in Colosseum II, he was playing through a Fender Twin Reverb, which would cut your ears off with treble.”

Snowy White's 1957 Les Paul guitar sold at auction yesterday for $93,750.00 including buyers premium. "Snowy White's Gibson Les Paul Standard Gold Solid Body Electric Guitar, Serial # 7 2916. Snowy White bought this Guitar in 1969 from the original owner in Sweden. Actually, he traded a 50's Stratocaster and 120 English pounds for it. Tuners were replaced with Grovers in 1970. In 1972 Peter Green gave him a wire ABR-1 bridge and that was installed so he wouldn't lose the sadd...les if a string broke. The Jack plate was replaced with a metal one around 1978. Around that same time he had a phase switch installed on the pickup switch cover. Has since been removed and switch appears to be original. But there is a square hole and 2 screw holes on cover for toggle switch cover.
There is tape on the inside of cover with marks from Roger Waters' crew when strings were changed. Push/pull pot was on the bridge tone pot in the late 70's with Yamaha part. Ground plate was installed and pots were replaced by Chandler Guitars in the early 1980's. Copper shield tape has been installed on back of control plate cover. Headstock was broken in 1990 from guitar stand fall and repaired by Chandler Guitars in Richmond.
Headstock was broken in Holland on a Roger Waters tour in the mid 2000's and re-repaired by Chandler as well. Pickup covers have been removed and have been reinstalled. Guitar has been refretted several times and plays wonderfully. Considerable checking on the incredibly iconic instrument. Original hard case included. Condition: Good."

From the Les Paul Forum   -  Charlie Daughtry 

 

March 2015 Burst of the Month: Virginia...a KILLER 59!

 

 

One of our newest members Mossman68(Marty Schiff), has graciously allowed us to feature his KILLER 59 "Virginia" as our March 2015 Burst of the Month. Marty has a GREAT book out right now, "The Collection" that contains photos of this burst, and many more of his killer guitars that I highly recommend. Marty also currently plays guitar in Martina McBride's band. Quite a LPF entrance Marty!

Here's part of Virginia's backstory(I'll let Marty chime in with the rest):

This particular ‘59 “burst” was found in Richlands, Virginia. I think it sold new for around $200. Jim Anderson found this one for me.
We have been friends for years, and he has found me some amazing guitars. He really taught me most of what I know.
I asked Jim to tell me the story of how he found this, and this is what he said. No joke.
He made a cold call to a small music store in Richlands, which has since closed. A wonderful lady owned the store by the name of Nancy Henderson.
This is how Jim described his call.
Me: “Do you have any high end vintage guitars?”
Nancy: sarcastically “What exactly are you looking for?”
Me: sarcastically “ Well, I would like to buy a flamed out 1959 Les Paul Standard.”
Nancy: Very matter of fact tone “A guy walked into the store yesterday with a very flamey one.”
Wow, what are the chances of that? Jim called me and told me what he had found.
Jim sent me the pictures and then called me and said “Ok, go get your van warmed up.” I loaded the kids in the van and we were on our way.
It was late in the day and the store was about 4 hours away or so, so we went on our way and stayed in a hotel because we wanted to be there as soon as the store opened. First thing in the morning we were at the front door of the store. Jim and I spent several hours taking out the pickups and making sure everything was original. I had only seen one other ’59 Les Paul in person so I needed to consult with my friends Dave and Drew, The Burst Brothers, in L.A. We did have internet in the store, so I took a couple of pictures of the guitar to send to L.A. to get their opinion.

Drew said, “It’s a nice one, get it!” So we paid for it. Meanwhile, while we were doing all of this, the kids were bored to tears.
So we went to lunch, the seller paid for it, and then headed home. I didn’t stop once on the way home. I’ve had so much fun with this guitar. It was red tagged in the vault meaning “Do not touch unless you call Marty.” Since then, it has been played on several records.
If I remember right, the previous owner told me that he was the second owner of the guitar. He purchased the guitar in the late 60’s for $400. He played it in his band for several years until someone told him it was worth about $2500. He immediately put it in the case and didn’t play it outside of the house again. I can tell you this, he is very happy that he didn’t sell it for $2500 back then.

 

9-0676

btw, 1 day before we recorded 90676 Joe B. and Mike where at my place. Joe was playing one of my personal 60 Burst over the same 58 Fender Bassman, ...just a cable, no FX and I believe all chickenheads where all the way to the right (incl. Vol)!  I wish I could have taped that sound, that was just insane. I was hoping that Joe wouldn´t blow the orig. speakers, ...they survived!

 

 

Okay here you are: The Burst 9 0676 is played though the 1958 Stock Fender Bassman that you see behind Ali on the left. Between the Bassman and the Guitar there is a Brownface Fender Spring Reverb Tank and a Nobels Overdrive Special ODS Pedal along with his looper, that´s it. The guitar weighs in at 3,64 Kg (= 8,02 lbs). The Neck PAF reads 7,91 Kohms and the Bridge PAF 7,95 Kohms. For the Video no Compressors or other Effects were used. The Amp was used through the Normal Channel of the Bassman having all controls pretty much around 12:00 o clock. Hope this answers your questions sufficiently and as said somewhere below there will be another Video Session shot soon. Here is a shot right after Detlef acquired this beautiful Instrument

u.

We usually tape pic and tone on two different sources. The sound is always a mix of the camera-sound mixed with the mic-sound from the amp. We had three burst recorded aprox two years ago (the Montrose-burst, a 59 Bigsby and the Runt (..befor the sale to Joe)), there we had a third mic placed in one corner of the room,..those videos I like the best. We had those three burst played over a stock ´69 Superlead w/matching cab, only a Weber powersoak was used to make it earfriendly. We will try certain new methods after my Vintage Show, I´m shure to find a cool way to get some nice sounds ;-)
 

Meeting the great man back in 2008 at the Iridium NY - the second pic is special as he was looking direct to the camera

9-2181 Doris

pic via LPF  and Charlie Daughtry.

3 pics of the 'Exile' burst - much more later

9-1652  although this is not definite!

a plug for my Tom Wittrock DVD and the Mick Garbham (Procol Harum) burst  to be featured in Vic DaPra's new book

a great Gibson collection including the Grabham burst,  '59  and '57 on the top row
Bernie Marsden with the Beast, Tom Wilson and Mick Grabham   2016
9 0636 Battle Axe   Tom Allen
Thanks so much to our very own T. Allen for sharing this beauty with us.:dude: Here is her story and gorgeous pictures. This guitar is a 1959 Les Paul, 9-0636 and has an interesting story going back to the late 90’s when it was “discovered”. As the story was told to me by two of the previous owners, 9-0636 was found one day in a Baton Rouge pawn shop. The would be next owner walked in, saw it and asked the pawn shop owner about it. The pawn shop owner apparently had no idea what the guitar
9 0636 battlae Axe   Tom Allen
9-0594 Verlyn Burst

Late last December I was visiting family in Los Angeles when my brother-in-law Dave shared a video he made for his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It’s a really well-done, touching tribute narrated by my toddler nephew and you can actually view it here: https://www.facebook.com/david.schut...5756726099736/

 At the 1:55 mark, I fell out of my chair. For three glorious seconds, a 1960 photo of Dave’s Dad’s high school band scrolled across the screen. There was Dave’s Dad, John, playing trumpet. And beside him was some mean-mugging kid sporting a brand new flametop Gibson Les Paul Standard.

“Stop! Pause it!” I yelled. “Is that what I think it is?!”

So began a lot of hysterics and a series of phone calls to John by way of my brother-in-law, whereby I learned that not only was the guitarist in the photo still alive, he was still playing regularly and living in the same area of rural Minnesota as the high school. John even had his phone number. Before long I was having a conversation with one of the coolest dudes there ever was. Even his name was cool: Verlyn Kling. Veteran. Guitarist. Singer. Bandleader. Style icon. (OK that last one is made up, but he does have very nice style). Anyway Verlyn was eager to talk to me about his guitar, although I’m sure I overwhelmed him with questions. What serial number? Do you still own it? If not where is it?! Over the next few weeks, this is the story I collected.

 The guitar I spotted was indeed a cherry sunburst 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard, serial number 9-0594. Verlyn bought it in May of 1959 from Smith Music Company in Montevideo, Minnesota. He was just 15 years old, yet he bought both the guitar and a 1959 Gibson GA-20 amplifier with money he made selling cattle through FFA and 4-H in school. The retail price for the Les Paul, Lifton case and GA-20 amplifier would have been around $427 according to the 1958 Price guide (prices were raised in November of 1959) and Verlyn remembers paying $440 after tax, so that sounds about right...no small chunk of change in 1959, that’s for sure.

 When asked why he chose the sunburst Les Paul that day at the music store, Verlyn told me “I have no idea!” He supposed it must have caught his eye and that it just looked like a quality instrument. Verlyn was so proud of his purchase he took a photo with it immediately upon returning home. And a short while later he took a couple incredible color photos of the guitar in his bedroom. These may be the only ‘59 burst photos of their kind.

That brings us to the first photo I saw in the video -- taken in 1960 with his high school band, the 7-Teens. They were a rock and roll/dance band and shared large local venues with a few national touring acts. Not only is this a rare photo of a burst being used when new, I happen to think it is one of the coolest band photos of all time. The attitude. The poise. The professionalism. Those stands!

The highlight of the 7-Teens high school run was playing the Fiesta Ballroom in their hometown of Montevideo, Minnesota. It had hosted Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens during their fateful final tour just a year earlier. Not to mention Conway Twitty and the Fendermen within a couple weeks of the 7-Teens show...check out this photo of a Fiesta playbill, courtesy of John Schutz.

Sadly Verlyn had to leave his guitar at home in 1961 after joining the Navy. Here he is at his going away party, looking thrilled. He began basic training in San Diego just days later.
He enlisted for four years but had to serve four extra months during the escalation in Vietnam aboard a tanker ship. Luckily he made it home without seeing combat and was able to pick up where he left off back home in Minnesota. Verlyn started a career with the local power company (he was employed over 34 years there) and, in his free time, he founded a country-rock band called The Shilohs. He continued to use his beloved Les Paul but traded the Gibson GA-20 amp into a cleaner, louder blackface Fender Twin Reverb. The Shilohs played and toured throughout the Midwest for over five years. Here they are in November of 1967:

In 1972 Verlyn started another five-piece ground called the Country Playboys, still using the ‘59 burst. Verlyn says he always kept it in brand-new condition and had a careful eye on it at every gig. But after a gig one day, the band was loading up Verlyn’s 1960s Olsmobile Vista Cruiser wagon with gear. Nobody noticed that the Lifton case didn’t make it into the vehicle until Verlyn drove over a big bump while in reverse. He was horrified! Fortunately the case did a great job of protecting the guitar and only one latch was compromised.

1974 saw the formation of Verlyn’s most well-known and longest-lasting band, Four Wheel Drive. They were primarily a cover band, playing all the hits of the 1950s and beyond. They were so successful in the area that, at one point, Verlyn was setting up gigs two years in advance.

 After a while the Les Paul just wasn’t doing it for Verlyn. He told me he would get frustrated with the tone of the guitar sounding too dark, even through the relatively bright Twin Reverb amp. It was a love/hate relationship. Good for rhythm guitar but not enough cut for country licks, he explained. Yet it continued to be his main axe. That is until the mid-1980s, when Verlyn noticed more and more interest in his guitar from audience members, many of whom wanted to buy it. He was more protective of it than ever when gigging -- and he recalls that by 1988, he didn’t feel entirely comfortable taking it shows at all. He was made aware of the rising value by his local music store and told there was a man who paid good money for that type of guitar who lived only a few miles away. Verlyn took his information and did a lot of thinking. And, it turns out, a lot of looking at the enticing new Carvin mail-order catalog, through which he could order a guitar of his exact specifications.

 On June 13th, 1988, Verlyn arranged for the local buyer to come over and check out his guitar. I’ll refer to this man as John Doe because I was not able to get ahold of him for permission...he is not well-known in the guitar buying/selling world although I’ve heard first-hand accounts that Mr. Doe would drive over 30,000 miles a year buying vintage guitars throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

 So John Doe came over, saw the guitar, and as Verlyn remembers “acted extremely excited.” The Les Paul was in mint condition even after three decades of regular use, a testament to Verlyn’s constant careful handling. It was never leaned against an amp or stored outside of its case. The sunburst finish was deep cherry red with very little fading. All of the parts were original and there was not so much as a nick on the headstock.

 Verlyn shared every story about the guitar he could remember over the course of the afternoon. After thinking for a few minutes, John Doe gave Verlyn an offer. $3600. Verlyn didn’t have much to compare to in terms of value but immediately thought about how he could order a completely personalized, custom Carvin guitar to use for the next three decades. It was a deal. The men shook on it and began writing up receipts.

 Then John Doe did something Verlyn remembers as being a little strange -- he added $50 to the deal. “He raised his own price!” Verlyn laughed. John Doe said he was happy to do it because Verlyn didn’t haggle. Unfortunately that gesture left Verlyn thinking maybe he could’ve gotten much more for the guitar (I reassured him that compared to a lot of deals that went down in that era, it was a very solid offer).

 Of course, today the guitar would be worth somewhere around 100 times that amount. But Verlyn isn’t upset with himself in the least...it was a matter of gear preference. This is a man who was the lead singer and guitarist of every band he was in since 1959. The show must go on. He continued playing with Four Wheel Drive until the group disbanded in 2000, and he has spent the last 16 years playing locally as a one-man-band, named “Verlyn’s Four Wheel Drive.” Today, at age 72 he still plays an incredible 100 shows a year.

 When Verlyn told me he was coming through Nashville en route to a family vacation destination, I jumped at the opportunity to chat with him in person. He was, after all, a bit of a celebrity to me at this point. I met him on a Friday after lunch at Merchants on Broadway and we resumed our ongoing conversation about guitars, music and life. I gave him a copy of “The Beauty of the Burst,” which features serial numbers 9-0592 and 9-0593...the two bursts made just before Verlyn’s guitar. I told him his guitar should be in that book too.
If you are wondering where the guitar ended up after John Doe bought it in 1988, so am I. In fact I labored over whether to post this story because 1) there are so many people out there making fake bursts, 2) John Doe was uncooperative and 3) I didn’t want to send people on a wild goose chase. Luckily Verlyn and I have dozens more detailed color photographs of this guitar not posted here, so I am not concerned about any fakes turning up...at least any accurate ones.

 John Doe is definitely the key to the mystery of the guitar’s current whereabouts. He still lives in near Verlyn but he is very private. He has my information but does not wish to communicate. Recently, Verlyn stopped by John Doe’s house and upon opening the door John immediately recited the serial number of the burst. He even remembered all the details Verlyn provided about when he bought it and the bands he used it with. But inexplicably John Doe says he could not remember when, how or to whom he sold the guitar. Verlyn thinks John is just protecting the current owner. But what’s strange to me is that if I were the current owner, I would LOVE to have all the detailed provenance Verlyn can offer. Especially the photos (you’re welcome, current owner).

 Perhaps this guitar is in Japan? Perhaps Gil Southworth knows something? (He was the only one of the usual suspects who said he knew this guitar, but he has not replied to any of my follow-up emails. He could just be pulling my leg). I know it’s not in the Ziff collection. Dapra has never heard of it. It’s not in the serial database Excel file I share with Bonamassa and Hickey (yet). Perhaps John Doe kept this one (unlikely as he was in the flip-it-fast business). Who knows? And why does it matter?

 Selfishly I want to get this guitar back in Verlyn’s hands, if only for the photo op. He has been without it for 28 years and says he’d love just to play it again for a bit. Maybe with the help of this forum we can locate 9-0594 and make that happen. In any case, I hope you enjoyed the story and the photos!

 -Mat Koehler
 ig: @matkoehler

 

  1. 1970 saw the formation of Verlyn’s most well-known and longest-lasting band, Four Wheel Drive. They were primarily a cover band, playing all the hits of the 1950s and beyond for dances, weddings, parties and venues throughout the area. They were so successful that at one point Verlyn was setting up gigs two years in advance. And they were around so long that they've played weddings for young couples and eventually their grown children!

    After a while the Les Paul just wasn’t doing it for Verlyn. He told me he would get frustrated with the tone of the guitar sounding too dark, even through the relatively bright Twin Reverb amp. It was a love/hate relationship. Good for rhythm guitar but not enough cut for country licks, he explained. Yet it continued to be his main axe. That is until the mid-1980s, when Verlyn noticed more and more interest in his guitar from audience members, many of whom wanted to buy it. He was more protective of it than ever when gigging -- and he recalls that by 1988, he didn’t feel entirely comfortable taking it shows at all. He was made aware of the rising value by his local music store and told there was a man who paid good money for that type of guitar who lived only a few miles away. Verlyn took his information and did a lot of thinking. And, it turns out, a lot of looking at the enticing new Carvin mail-order catalog, through which he could order a guitar of his exact specifications.

    On June 13th, 1988, Verlyn arranged for the local buyer to come over and check out his guitar. I’ll refer to this man as John Doe because I was not able to get ahold of him for permission...he is not well-known in the guitar buying/selling world although I’ve heard first-hand accounts that Mr. Doe would drive over 30,000 miles a year buying vintage guitars throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

    So John Doe came over, saw the guitar, and as Verlyn remembers “acted extremely excited.” The Les Paul was in mint condition even after three decades of regular use, a testament to Verlyn’s constant careful handling. It was never leaned against an amp or stored outside of its case. The sunburst finish was deep cherry red with very little fading. All of the parts were original and there was not so much as a nick on the headstock.

    Verlyn shared every story about the guitar he could remember over the course of the afternoon. After thinking for a few minutes, John Doe gave Verlyn an offer. $3600. Verlyn didn’t have much to compare to in terms of value but immediately thought about how he could order a completely personalized, custom Carvin guitar to use for the next three decades. It was a deal. The men shook on it and began writing up receipts.

    Then John Doe did something Verlyn remembers as being a little strange -- he added $50 to the deal. “He raised his own price!” Verlyn laughed. John Doe said he was happy to do it because Verlyn didn’t haggle. Unfortunately that gesture left Verlyn thinking maybe he could’ve gotten much more for the guitar (I reassured him that compared to a lot of deals that went down in that era, it was a very solid offer).

    Of course, today the guitar would be worth somewhere around 100 times that amount. But Verlyn isn’t upset with himself in the least...it was a matter of gear preference. This is a man who was the lead singer and guitarist of every band he was in since 1959. The show must go on. He continued playing with Four Wheel Drive until the group disbanded in 1996, and he has spent the last 16 years playing locally as a one-man-band, named “Verlyn’s Four Wheel Drive.” Today, at age 72 he still plays an incredible 100 shows a year.

    When Verlyn told me he was coming through Nashville en route to a family vacation destination, I jumped at the opportunity to chat with him in person. He was, after all, a bit of a celebrity to me at this point. I met him on a Friday after lunch at Merchants on Broadway and we resumed our ongoing conversation about guitars, music and life. I gave him a copy of “The Beauty of the Burst,” which features serial numbers 9-0592 and 9-0593...the two bursts made just before Verlyn’s guitar. I told him his guitar should be in that book too.

Gibson log for the first bursts
8-3087,  8-3096 (Slash)

Carter Vintage Guitars has acquired the earliest example of Gibson’s iconic cherry sunburst Les Paul guitar, the model made famous by Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Duane Allman and numerous other influential rock guitarists. 

The Les Paul Model, as it was originally called, had been introduced in 1952 with a gold finish on the top, but in 1958 Gibson began experimenting with cherry-stain finishes. After several trial runs, two guitars were shipped on May 28, 1958, to Gibson’s parent company, Chicago Musical Instrument, for approval. In Gibson’s daily shipping ledger, they were described as “LP Spec. Finish.” They featured the yellow-to-red “sunburst” that became the standard finish on the model. 

One of the guitars in the shipping entry, serial number 8 3096, has been known to Les Paul aficionados for more than a decade and is currently owned by Slash, former guitarist for the group Guns N’ Roses. The guitar that now resides at Carter Vintage is serial number 8 3087. It went to the O.K. Houck music store in Memphis, where the father of the current owner bought it in 1958 as a Christmas present for his son.

“The original owner, who still lives in Memphis, sent us photos with the serial number, 8 3087,” said Walter Carter, proprietor of Carter Vintage and former historian for Gibson Guitar Corp. “I had found an entry twenty years ago in Gibson’s shipping ledgers that I thought might be the first ’burst, and the serial number rang a bell. The owner also had snapshots of himself at age 14, taken just months after he bought it. It’s the kind of discovery that vintage guitar collectors dream about.”

This “first ’burst” has a three-piece maple top, which is different from the two-piece top that subsequent sunburst Les Pauls sported—an indication that it was intended to be a “goldtop” and was pulled off the production line for the experimental finish.

Gibson made an estimated 1,500 cherry sunburst Les Paul Standards before changing the body shape and finish color in 1961. The cherry sunburst Les Paul is one of the most highly sought vintage guitar models and has been the subject of several books. 

0-8600 Shattered Glass

An extract from a  Mike Bown message

 

This guitar was sold to my friend Joe S in 1979 by George Gruhn.George said all original and possibly the first burst made.I saw the Carter guitar and damn the color and off center seam top and identical .this one is 8-5288 .i would say this one is the first or if not the second burst made.My friend only 21 at the time put the double whites in the guitar because in 79 that was the thing to do ---dumb i know. .Here are the only shots i have of it .I give you the First or second Burst made possibly
8-5228 .

Published on 26 May 2016

JD Simo recently stopped in the shop and offered his tremendous guitar playing skills for a quick demo of the first "Burst" Les Paul.

This 1958 Gibson Les Paul 8 3087 was brought in by the original owner whose father purchased it for him from O.K. Houck in Memphis. This guitar was logged into Gibson's shipping ledger (along with 8 3096, now which belongs to Slash) as having a special finish. It's the earliest known serial number for a Les Paul with the classic yellow-to-red "Burst" finish.

An era-correct tuner, "poker chip" switch ring, jackplate and jack are the only replaced parts.

We plugged JD into a mid-'60s Fender Vibrolux, mic'd the amp with a Cascade Fat Head and mic'd the room with a Shure MV88. There was no EQ'ing done in post so what you hear is what we heard in the room. Listen with high quality headphones for the full effect!

0-8600--Knight of shattered Glass.Drove my friend up to Detroit to pick this one up at a show.When we got there we went to the room where the burst was and there was GIlvis.He was sitting in his underpants only and drunk as a lord.He had the burst balanced upside down by the headstock in just one hand.It was waving back and forth as Gil tried to keep it balanced and it keep nearly falling.It was ...not appreciated by the new buyer or Gil's partner in the guitar.I thought it was pretty funny since i knew Gil would not drop it and was just trying to stir things up.Which he did.Gil gave the burst to the new owner unharmed and then to show how great his balance was he took a tray full of drinks that room service was just bringing in --and tried to balance it in one hand like he had done with the guitar.After a few tries Gil balanced the tray .It then began to sway and he tried to move to adjust the balance.Being so drunk however did not help and he fell into the corner of the room with all the drinks spilling and all the glasses breaking when they hit the ground.So there sits Gil amid 8-10 drinks all over him and all the broken glass everywhere --.He was laughing like a crazy man and soon we were all roaring and laughing with him. Thus the Bursts name -Knight of Shattered Glass.The guitar was unharmed and went to a great new home.A burst story.all Heading
Courtesy of Keith Smart   "This was smashed by Pete Townshend during the Who's Quadrophenia tour at Newcastle.
A friend of mine owned it a while".
  1. Thrill of a Lifetime 0 1247 On Stage With Greg Martin

    I thought I’d share the back story and pics of my day playing my ’60 Burst on stage with Greg Martin and The Kentucky Headhunters, on July 29, 2016. About three years ago, I got a phone call, and the caller introduced himself as Greg Martin, guitar player for the Kentucky Headhunters. Before he could finish his introduction, I blurted out, “Oh yeah, the Hank Plank!” I told Greg that the pic of his ‘58 LP has been hanging in my shop since it was pictured in Vintage Guitar magazine. I have always loved Greg’s tone and playing, especially his slide work. Greg had a 1955 Goldtop he wanted converted to a ‘57 but didn’t know who could do the work. He called his friend, Ed King, to see if he knew anyone who could do the conversion. (Greg had filled in for Ed with Lynyrd Skynyrd when Ed was sidelined with an injury). Having done 3 conversions for Ed, he recommended me for the job. I did the conversion and shipped it back to Greg. He liked the guitar but wanted a set of pickups with outputs close to the ones in Hank. I had my friend, Mark Stow (owner of OX4 pickups), wind a set to the Hank specs. After receiving the pickups, I called Greg and we made arrangements to meet at a show he was doing near my home so I could install the new pickups. I asked Greg if he ever took Hank on the road, and he blew me away by graciously offering to bring it to the show. OK, now it’s the day of the show and here’s where the fun begins. There’s a knock on my hotel door and it’s Greg with the ‘55 Goldtop and another case in hand. We meet, talked and I swapped out the pickups and did a set up so Greg could play it that night on stage. With business done, it’s time to open the other case—(drumroll)—OMG it’s the Hank Plank in all its glory! We jammed for a while and then Greg said, “Here, keep Hank until after the show,” and he left. I was in awe and spent a couple of hours going over and measuring Hank’s specs and playing it. The show that night was the first time I had seen the Kentucky Headhunters live, and they didn’t disappoint. Greg’s tone and playing left me admiring him even more. Fast forward a year …. a good friend of mine, Jay, stops by my shop and notices the autographed picture of the Kentucky Headhunters hanging right below the pic of Hank. He asks me if I know the band and I told him I had done a conversion for Greg Martin, the guitar player. He shared that the following year was his 20th year anniversary of being in business and he wanted to do something special. (Jay owns a business that does commercial & residential overhead doors. Every year he puts on a classic car show, does a hog roast, and provides free food for everyone, plus, hires a couple local bands for entertainment. My band, Signature, has played the event for the past 8 years.) Being a big fan of Southern Rock, Jay asked me if I could get a hold of The Headhunters and get some prices to see if he could bring them to Northwest Ohio in the summer of 2016. It’s now fall of 2015 and we’ve worked out the date, Jay has signed the contract, and we’ve worked out the event details. This was going to be a free concert with my band, Signature, opening up for the Headhunters. This next part I’m including only because it’s how life can throw you a curve ball when you least expect it. In February of 2016, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 squamous cell tongue cancer. What a shocker as I don’t smoke, dip, or chew. April 1, I had surgery where they removed 1/3 of my tongue and did reconstruction surgery on my tongue. I also had a neck dissection (removed my right neck muscle and lymph glands). Six weeks after the surgery, all margins and pathology were clear so I started radiation treatments. I went thru 10 of the scheduled 30 sessions and decided to stop the treatments. The radiation and terrible side effects were really kicking my butt. Now, it’s 7 weeks until the show and I’m a mess. I had lost 25 pounds from being on a liquid diet, lost a lot of hair from the radiation beams entrance and exit, lost all taste, had mouth sores, sore throat and my energy level was down to around 50%. I decided that no matter what, I was going to get healthy enough to open up for the Headhunters. I started pushing myself to walk a mile a day, did a daily light exercise routine, added protein shakes to my diet, and forced myself to eat, even though it was difficult. I rested more, which is very unusual for me, and worked only 6 hours a day in my shop. The first month was tough as I saw very little progress. As it got closer to the concert, Greg and I were talking on the phone and he asked me to sit in with the Headhunters on a couple blues tunes. (One Way Out & Let’s work Together). Needless to say, that gave me the push to keep trying to get better. This was going to be a once in a lifetime happening for me, so now I had a new goal and 3 weeks to get there. To top it off, I would be playing my ’60 Burst and Greg would play Hank. On the day of the concert, everything came together, I felt great, and I was so stoked to be playing with Greg, it was an epic day! But enough said, I’ll let the pics finish the story. Greg, thank you again Bro, for your friendship and encouragement. This was a very special day and a highlight in my life!

JIMMY PAGE ANECDOTE  by Richard Henry

THE JIMMY PAGE LES PAUL - TRUE STORY
 One hot sunny day in early March of 2007 I was travelling in a taxi cab towards a rehearsal studio in Chelsea. I was collecting a 1955 Stratocaster body that belonged to Ronnie Wood that Ronnie's roadie had asked me to deliver to a vintage guitar restorer that I knew to have some work done. My roadie friend also worked for Jimmy Page, who was supposed to be rehearsing in Chelsea with a band. On the way there I received a call to say that Jimmy wasn't rehearsing now as he had to go out of town on other business and could I collect the Strat body from him at Jimmy's house instead.
 When I arrived at the Tower House in Holland Park, I was invited inside. "Jimmy's not here and you shouldn't really be here" my friend told me. I had to ask. "Is Jimmy's Les Paul here by any chance?, You know, No1, the guitar Jimmy got from Joe Walsh of The Eagles?". My friend, knowing I was a big fan of 50's Les Pauls said "Aw Rich, Jimmy wouldn't be happy man. I'll go and fetch it.". He opened the case to show me this legendary instrument. A well played late 50's 'burst with an old headstock repair, changed pickups and a shaved down neck. A modern icon. I took a couple of photos and then it got really weird.
 Pretty soon after the case was opened, the sky went black, the heavens opened and it began to thunder with lightening and pour with rain. "Jimmy knows!" I joked. But my friend looked freaked out. "You better go" He said. I shook his hand and thanked him for showing me the guitar and I left with the Strat body of Ronnie's with my collar up on my light summer jacket. It was throwing it down.
 I took the tube from Kensington High Street to head back to Denmark Street where I was working, feeling a little freaked out myself thinking how the storm had come out of nowhere. As I got to the bottom of the escalator to catch my train I heard a busker playing a guitar. He was playing Led Zeppelin's 'Stairway To Heaven'. Now I was a little more than freaked out.
 When I arrived at Tottenham Court Road I approach the escalator to take me up to the street and was faced with another busker who was playing The Eagles' 'Hotel California'. Now I was proper freaked out.

Anyway, that's my story and how I got to take these pictures.


 

Gary Moore: the story of Still Got The Blues


By Harry Shapiro  (Blues) August 12, 2016  Blues    

1990's Still Got The Blues album was an abrupt and risky game-changer that reignited the tradition of blistering British blues gui

 
Spring 1989. Gary Moore was touring acrosEurope promoting his latest album After The War, his fifth rock album for Virgin since 1982’s Corridors Of Power. Sales and profile were growing with each album, culminating in Wild Frontier in 1987. But the new album hadn’t done so well and Gary was tiring of the 1980s rock treadmill; the emphasis on soulless fret-melting guitar, big hair and looking serious in daft pop videos. He realised, too, that he was repeating himself as a songwriter. He needed to take some risks if he was to move on – but which way to turn?

Sitting in the tune-up room loosening up before a gig in Germany with his long-time bass player Bob Daisley (ex-Rainbow and Ozzy Osbourne), the answer came. “We were messing about playing bits and pieces of blues,” says Daisley. “Stuff from the Bluesbreakers’ Beano album. And then it came to me. I said to Gary, ‘Why don’t we do a blues album?’”

Flashback to Belfast 1966; Gary Moore, then still only 14, had been making a name for himself as a guitar prodigy on the Belfast beat scene. Starting around the age of 10 with a jumbo acoustic almost as big as himself, he progressed so far over the next four years that he was the proud owner of a white Telecaster – one of the very few available in the city and bought on hire purchase by his dad for 180 guineas (an eye-watering £2,800 at 2013 prices).

He’d been playing pop covers since his first band The Beat Boys, but then in July 1966, the Beano album came out; “I remember going round to a friend’s house one Sunday afternoon. I’ll never forget it because it was such a big thing for me. He had the album and a lot of people were talking about it. It was the first time anyone had heard a Les Paul going through a Marshall amp. My friend put on the opening track, All Your Love, and it changed my life in a second, it was an unbelievable epiphany. It was only a little stereo, but the guitar was screaming out of the speakers. I’d never heard a guitar sound so big and so passionate, and so full of energy and emotion.”

Moore borrowed the album and never gave it back. That very same copy with the name ‘G. McFarlane’ written in the top left-hand corner now resides in Belfast’s Oh Yeah community centre, alongside a display of stage clothes and a black Les Paul.

It wasn’t that long after hearing the album that Moore ran away from home, travelling to Dublin with The Method as a stand-in for the guitarist who had hurt his hand in a car accident and then joining Skid Row, featuring a tall, skinny black kid called Phil Lynott on vocals. If hearing Eric Clapton was an epiphany, the next step in Moore’s blues journey became a lifelong obsession.

Moore first clapped eyes on Peter Green in 1967, when Fleetwood Mac played the Club Rado in Belfast. Like most fans, he stood there, arms folded, waiting to hear from the guitarist who had the job of replacing Eric Clapton. Moore said later, “From the opening licks of All Your Love it was obvious that here was someone very special. As for his guitar sound, I’d never heard anything like it in my life. It seemed that the whole room was resonating, such was the depth of his tone.”

That guitar, a 1959 Les Paul Standard, would become as much a part of the Gary Moore story as it was embedded in the legend of Peter Green.

Moore didn’t meet Green until January 1970, when Skid Row supported Fleetwood Mac at Dublin’s National Stadium. “After we’d played our set, a local DJ, Pat Egan, who was compering the show, came up to me and said Peter wanted to say hello. Peter told me that he liked my playing and invited me back to his hotel after the show. I had another gig to play about 50 miles away, but he wanted me to go back and we sat up playing and talking until the early hours. After that we became friends and he persuaded his manager Clifford Davis to sign Skid Row.”


Skid Row moved to London, where Moore and Green stayed in touch. By then, Green’s life was unravelling; he left Fleetwood Mac, began to offload money and possessions and started down an awful slope into mental illness and obscurity. Moore recalled a particular night at The Marquee: “Peter asked me if I wanted to borrow his guitar. All through the Bluesbreakers and Fleetwood Mac he had played that particular guitar… and so I jumped at the chance.

A few days later he called and asked me if I wanted it. I told him there was no way I could afford it, but he said if I sold my main guitar (a Gibson SG), then whatever I got for it, I could give it to him and then it would be like swapping guitars. It’s the best guitar I have ever played…it has a magic all its own and a sound that I have never heard from any other guitar.”

Moore spent the mid to late 70s alternating between the hard rock of Thin Lizzy and the prog rock complexities of Colosseum II. He met up with Green again during the recording of his solo album Back On The Streets, the source of his first pop success, Parisienne Walkways. Gary told Guitarist magazine in 2003, “He was downstairs in the bar and I said, ‘Come up. I want to play you this track’. We’d done this slow version of Don’t Believe A Word which was very much in the Fleetwood Mac style. The Les Paul was leaning against a chair in the studio and he came in, walked across and brushed it with his hand. That’s why it’s given me another 20 years of magic ever since. He put some of the old magic back into it for me.”



What is so special about that guitar is a matter of dispute. There are many stories of how it came to have that soulful, far away, out-of-phase signature sound. Inevitably the truth is probably a mash-up of explanations – the main ones being a botched repair at Selmer’s, where Peter had bought the guitar second hand feeling he should have the same guitar as Eric, and a possible factory fault unique to this guitar. But there is no such thing as a magical guitar; there are only magical guitarists.

One thing’s for sure, Gary Moore was a worthy recipient of the most famous Les Paul on the planet. He used it on Still Got The Blues and the subsequent tour – and dedicated the album to Peter Green.

But in 1989, exactly what form this blues album would take – or even if it would happen at all – was very much up in the air. When Bob Daisley said “why don’t we do a blues album?” – he meant Gary’s touring band of the moment, with keyboard player Neil Carter and drummer Chris Slade. But Carter wasn’t really into playing blues and, shortly after the tour ended, Chris Slade joined AC/DC. And Moore had other ideas.

The prospect of doing a blues album was raised with the record company by Moore’s manager Steve Barnett. According to John Wooler, part of Virgin Records A&R team, a very early thought was to make a Fleetwood Mac concept album using Blue Horizon producer Mike Vernon and trying to get some of the original band to play. But Moore soon ditched that plan and turned his mind to building a team of musicians under his own name. Graham Lilley, Gary’s then guitar technician, recalls conversations about including another guitarist in the line-up, with Snowy White’s name being mentioned.

Inside Virgin, the conversation initially focused on this being a side project – in other words, not an album that would count as part of Gary’s contracted commitments.

Briefly floated, too, was the notion that this could be released on the Point Blank label. John Wooler, who had good connections with a number of American blues artists on the Alligator label, was laying plans to have a blues subsidiary of Virgin. Nothing was going to happen, however, until Virgin could hear what Moore was planning.
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Moore reached out first to bassist Andy Pyle, who he had played with back in 1980, in a short-lived band that recorded a live album at The Marquee. Moreover, Pyle had solid blues credentials with several bands, including Savoy Brown and Blodwyn Pig.

Moore and Pyle met and started working on some ideas. Activity then shifted to a small studio in a converted barn in Woodcray, Berkshire, not far from Gary’s home in Henley. Andy brought in ex-Blodwyn Pig drummer Clive Bunker, and when that didn’t work out, turned to Graham Walker, who was not specifically a blues drummer, but somebody who could be relied upon to play in the simple, uncomplicated way that Gary would be looking for. The original demo band was completed by pianist Mick Weaver.

Time has dimmed the memory of exactly which tracks they tried out and eventually played to Virgin, but probably Oh Pretty Woman, Moving On, Walking By Myself, Midnight Blues, Stop Messin’ Around, a Fleetwood Mac track Gary later recorded with Phil Lynott, possibly an early version of Still Got The Blues. Some of those basic tracks were so well developed, they can be heard pretty much intact on the final release.

After some polishing and refinements, Steve Barnett took the demos to Virgin.

“People reacted really well inside Virgin to some of the more commercial songs,” says Wooler. “People who were not blues fans, and they thought maybe this had got greater potential than just a straight-up blues record. The playing was great, so it would still appeal to the guitar fans and might appeal to a wider audience because the songs were so melodic.”

Virgin then decided that this was no side project, this was going to be the next contracted Gary Moore album with the full backing of the record company and a budget to match. Rehearsals began in earnest at John Henry’s in north London. Wooler oversaw the project and Moore co-producing with Ian Taylor, who had engineered After The War. As well as Pyle and Graham Walker, Moore decided to try out other rhythm section combinations. So in came Bob Daisley to play with Moore’s long-standing friend Brian Downey from Thin Lizzy. Keyboard player Don Airey had known Moore from back when they both played in Colosseum II.

As the work progressed through November and December 1989, it was decided to add a horn section to give it that Albert/BB King, big-band vibe and also to add strings. Moore could hear the arrangements in his head, but he couldn’t write music, so Airey wrote the scores and worked with the horns and string sections. When Airey told guitarist Mick Grabham, who lived in the same village, what he was doing, Grabham dumped a load of Albert King albums in his lap, saying, ‘you’d better listen to this lot’. During rehearsals, even Jack Bruce came down to jam just to help Moore gain a sense of how he wanted the album to shape up.

Once rehearsals were over, the main recording sessions began at Sarm West, the old Island Recording Studio in central London. It wasn’t the cheapest but, as Ian Taylor explains, “We didn’t book much time. The philosophy was going to be that the whole album would be done in a few weeks, not months, plus two or three weeks to mix. And we wanted to get a live feeling from the band, getting people together to get some chemistry, rather than stripping it all down and doing lot of overdubs.”

For this to work, it needed studio discipline and Gary had that by the bucketload. It was almost like a day at the office, rather than people ‘hanging out’ getting wasted and doing nothing. Moore needed people around him who knew exactly what was expected of them and were ready to go when he was.

Says Ian Taylor, “Gary liked working with me because I could get his guitar sounding good. I knew where he wanted the guitar in the mix and I made his life in the studio as easy as possible. It allowed him to go in the studio and not have a lot of fucking about. So Gary arrives, everybody is there and ready, right let’s go. When he had the guitar in his hand, he was a slightly different person. He would come into the studio very relaxed, but as soon as he put that guitar on, everything had to happen or the moment was lost. So everybody had to be with Gary and I could make that happen.”

From Taylor’s point of view, “Andy and Graham were perfect for Gary because it was really all about Gary and his guitar, so he didn’t want any ‘surprises’ from his backing band. He wanted the landscape clear so he could do exactly what he wanted. He didn’t want to hear that the bass player had put a funny note in there. Or the drummer had suddenly done a drum fill when he wasn’t expecting one. With Bob (Daisley) and Brian (Downey) Gary wanted a different feel, but also to bring in guys he had played with before, who were mates. Bob Daisley was the one guy who could make Gary laugh all time. He was a continual one-liner guy.”

It is remarkable, then, that Still Got The Blues was done in one take. Moore recalled later, “I remember exactly when we recorded [that track]. I was in a very determined frame of mind. I was up for the whole thing. I had the sound of the guitar in my mind and I really got it sounding the way I wanted, got the right balance in the headphones and just went for it… we were all so comfortable together, we just played, nobody make any mistakes. That was it, it all came together.” To which Taylor adds, “Gary had perfect pitch, so we dropped in two notes where the tuning wasn’t spot on. That was such a small amount to fix. Gary was a very tough critic of his own playing.”

Everything that Gary loved about the early style of Clapton and Green, he brought to his own playing; passion, emotion, energy and the most sublime of tones and touches. The solo on the track Still Got The Blues is almost symphonic in its construction and was typical of Gary’s playing at its very best. He brought rock aggression to blues playing and his blood is running through those strings. On this track, as on so much of his work, Gary Moore played as if his life depended on it, as if each note would be his last.



As well as using solid British musicians, the talk was of maybe bringing in some of the real deal blues legends from America. Over to John Wooler: “We had been at the rehearsal studios and I was giving Gary and Steve (Barnett) a lift back. We were talking in the car and I said, ‘Have you heard of Albert Collins? I’ll play you a great track. You’ll love his guitar playing.’ I played him Too Tired and Gary said, ‘That’s incredible. Never heard of this guy in my life.’ So I made a tape up for Gary. I had already been talking to Albert about being the first artist on Point Blank, so I said it would be great to get him on the record.”

Albert Collins came in and they got Too Tired down in three takes.

“Gary wanted to do Albert King’s Oh Pretty Woman,” says Wooler, “so he asked me if I could track him down. I ended up talking to Albert’s lawyer in Arkansas and we eventually worked out a deal.

“I had to meet Albert at Heathrow airport (where he’d been flown over first class), pick him up that night, take him to the hotel and the next day we were going to do the recording. So I’m down at the airport – no sign of Albert King. In the morning, I get this call, ‘Where are you Albert?’ ‘I’m at the hotel’. He’d got a different flight, but didn’t think to tell me. So it’s 10am and he wants me to pick him up so we can start recording straight away. Gary would usually come in about two. So I’m frantically trying to call Gary and Steve to say that Albert’s ready to go and he doesn’t want to hang around. I tried to delay things by taking him to breakfast. Albert’s track was due to be recorded at Metropolis studio in Chiswick, west London. Gary got there early and we cut the session around midday. For Albert, it was all about getting down to the studio, doing the song and going home.”

But he still had time to tell Moore off for misquoting the lyrics to Oh Pretty Woman and also freaked everybody out by tipping a load of bullets on the table in search of his pipe-cleaning knife. Turned out that back in his home town of Memphis, Albert was an honorary sheriff – and he produced the badge to prove it. It may also have been a subtle way of saying that at, 6 feet 4 inches and nearly 18 stones, you didn’t mess with Albert King.



Ian Taylor remembers trying to get the track done with Albert overdubbing on the basic rhythm track.

“He takes his guitar out, and tunes it up roughly. Graham Lilley says, ‘Do you want to plug into a strobe tuner?’. Albert says, ‘No I’m fine’. And then we try to play with the track and he’s miles out of tune. And then it’s, ‘well you need to be in tune with the track, Albert’. ‘No no, you need to be in tune with me’, because he is used to playing with his own band who had to be tuned to him – not the other way round. If he isn’t in concert pitch it doesn’t matter. If he says it’s in E and it isn’t in concert E, but it’s Albert’s E then it doesn’t matter, everybody tunes to him. We tried running the tape at a different speed. Then we spent a couple of hours going through the solo note by note and we fiddled around. Then Gary looked at me and said, ‘What are we doing? It doesn’t sound any better and it doesn’t sound like Albert. Let’s forget it and go with what we have.’”

As well as Sarm West and Metropolis, other studios were used to assemble the album. The strings were recorded at Abbey Road, while the George Harrison track That Kind Of Woman was done at George Harrison’s studio as a demo, with Nicky Hopkins contributing some beautiful piano and Graham Walker overdubbing the drums at Metropolis. Gary and his wife Kerry were living in Henley, close to George and Olivia Harrison. Gary was accepted into that Henley rock star enclave and became very close with George for a while, appearing on the second Traveling Wilburys album and even turning down a request to be in Bob Dylan’s touring band.

Although the Peter Green Les Paul did feature on the album on Midnight Blues and Stop Messin’ Around, the main guitar was another 1959 Les Paul Standard purchased at the end of 1988. For such songs as Texas Strut, a tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, out came the vintage 1961 salmon pink Stratocaster. The original owner was claimed to be Tommy Steele, but in 1981 it found its way to a Greg Lake recording session, brought in by a dealer looking to sell it to Lake. He thought it looked a bit battered, so Moore, who was also on the session, snapped it up.

Moore was extremely nervous about the reaction of the fans and the critics. He feared that it would alienate his rock fans while failing to impress the blues community who would sneer at his credentials. But even quite early on in the process, while the shape of the album was uncertain, Bob Daisley turned to Moore and said, “This is going to be the biggest thing you have ever done.” How right he was.

Ian Taylor first got a hint of what they might have achieved when he went to master the album at Abbey Road. “Chris, their mastering engineer, was one of their older guys there. He did various bits and pieces to it, then you play it in real time to master it onto vinyl. Chris turned round to me and said, ‘This is a really good album, you know.’ And here is a guy who is listening to albums all day. That was the first time it occurred to me because when you go to master it, you are listening to the whole album. In the studio, you are still fixing things, fiddling with the order. About two weeks later Steve rang me and said, ‘this is going to be a big record’.”


Gary Moore playing the Les Paul once owned by Peter Green


Gary Moore playing the Les Paul once owned by Peter Green

(Image: © Getty)

It took a while to sort out exactly who was going to be in the tour band to promote the album. Eventually Moore settled on Andy Pyle and Graham Walker, with Don Airey on keyboards and also acting as MD with the horn section to form The Midnight Blues Band.

The original tour was only scheduled to run a few weeks, but as the single Still Got The Blues and the album began to climb the charts all over the world, the tour just grew.

For Airey, Moore was absolutely on fire: “His playing was unbelievable on that tour, just unbelievable. Sometimes I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Jon Lord came up to me and said something very complimentary about my Hammond playing. But he said, ‘Don’t take this wrong, but it’s not surprising given what’s going on out front.’ And Andy Pyle was also very important in all this. He was very rigorous about the tempo, a very sparse player, but just exactly the right amount of notes. He didn’t conduct the band as such, but he did what a bass player should do and he held it together beautifully.”

Although the band knew things were going well sales-wise because dates kept being added, they had no idea how well. It wasn’t just that there were more dates, the size of the venues rose dramatically, from theatre-size venues to massive outdoor festivals.

“We did a gig in Holland called the Parkpop Festival in front of about 300,000 people,” says Graham Walker, “and we came offstage and there were all these TV cameras and a red carpet with a fence on either side and motorbike outriders for the tour bus. We were completely shocked and didn’t understand what was going on. I think the album and the single were right at the top of the charts. You kept on tripping over record company people all of a sudden.”

They would pull into a truck stop anywhere in Europe and hear the single on the radio or, on some occasions, the whole album.

Albert Collins joined the tour for about 30 dates and Albert King was flown back to do the video shoot for the single Oh Pretty Woman and for the filming of one of the two nights at Hammersmith Odeon in May.

John Wooler was at the rehearsal: “Albert King walked in. He was extremely competitive and was known for going on stage, playing really loud and blowing the competition away. But as he got older he couldn’t deal with volume, so the first thing he said to Gary was ‘you’ve got to turn it down’.”

King also ticked Gary off for playing too many notes; Graham Lilley recalls King’s rebuke, “‘Ah told that other boy, my other son, Stevie Ray, stop playing all them notes. And Gary’s like ‘Ooh, fuckin’ hell, getting told off here!’ And he did take it on board; Gary himself said he had come from that rock thing – and he said that he was doing a blues album, but coming from the rock side of it and overplaying, too many notes and tearing the backside out of it – and on the later albums, he found another voice to it all and started listening to the space between the notes. Albert was saying ‘think 10 notes but play five’.”

Wooler remembers King trying to take over, saying he needed to teach the horn section what to do. “They were talking about doing Stormy Monday. Albert says to Gary, ‘What key do you want to do it in?’ And Gary says, ‘Anything but A flat. I hate the key of A flat.’ ‘Okay, no problem.’ When he walks onto the stage at Hammersmith Odeon, they are about to do Stormy Monday and Albert shouts out to Gary, ‘A flat!!’ and goes straight into it.”

The tour rolled on to Moore’s debut at the Montreux Jazz Festival (the first of five appearances) in July and then large festival dates in Europe supporting Tina Turner on her tour to promote Foreign Affair. But there was trouble in paradise.

“I remember we were at the Deutsche Museum in Munich,’ says Don Airey. “This is where Gary started having trouble with his ears and he was beside himself. He was sitting outside in the park having a coffee and I wandered past and he was so upset.” Graham Lilley remembers Moore trying out ear plugs and getting an infection, which made a bad situation worse.

Then there was the issue of touring. The album had gone gold in the US, racking up half a million copies and was still selling, far outstripping anything Moore had previously sold there. There was a plan to tour the US in support of the Vaughan Brothers until the horrific death of Stevie Ray on August 27 that year put paid to that idea and the impetus was somehow lost. The day after Stevie Ray died, Gary played The Sky Is Crying dedicated to the great Texan blues guitarist. In Australia, manager Steve Barnett reckons the album went platinum or even double platinum and a big tour was in the offing. But Gary didn’t want to do a long tour of anywhere; he hated both flying and being away from home for extended periods.

Barnett was frustrated by Moore’s refusal to extend the tour further afield. “In the world we live in, when you have that opportunity, you have to really strike. But, on the other hand, it took Gary to a much wider audience, both in terms of record sales and touring. Still Got The Blues dramatically changed his life. I went in and renegotiated the deal with Virgin. It all worked out brilliantly for him.”

Wooler has a disc on his wall for three million worldwide sales – and that may well be an underestimate.

For Gary, the success of the album set him on a path, which apart from a couple of deviations, he followed for the rest of his career. He even recorded a complete album of Peter Green compositions, Blues For Greeny, released in 1995.

The album had a broader impact, too. While the international white blues scene was dominated by British guitarists in the 1960s and 1970s; the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jeff Healey captured the territory in the 1980s. Still Got The Blues put British blues playing back on the map, inspired a new generation of guitar players and provided much of the repertoire for the UK pub blues scene of the 1990s.



There were some sour notes down the line; for any artist, the risk of major profile is the unwelcome attention from those who feel they have contributed unrewarded to your success. Moore had to fight two separate court cases in Germany from musicians both claiming that the riff for Still Got The Blues had been ripped off from them. He won one and lost the other, although there was a feeling that he was on a hiding to nowhere by having to face a case brought by German musicians in a German court.

Another case was brought by guitarist Ronnie Montrose, alleging that one of the Les Pauls used by Moore on the album had actually been stolen off the stage in 1972. Jurisdictional issues got that case thrown out.

And what of the famous Les Paul? Unforeseen financial problems forced Moore to sell it to a dealer. An American collector Melvyn Franks bought it, but the guitar has come home. The vintage guitar dealer Phil Harris is the guitar’s custodian, instructed by Franks to give the guitar some profile. Airey says he heard Joe Bonamassa play Midnight Blues on it at the Royal Albert Hall this year and he “just sat there and burst into tears”.

There were the sad passings too; both Alberts died just over a year apart. Albert King had not been in the best of health for some years and died in December 1993 following a heart attack The ever-friendly Albert Collins was only 61 when he died of cancer in November 1993. Of course, the ultimately tragedy in this story was the death of Moore himself, struck down by a heart attack on February 6, 2011 aged only 58 years old.

As Gary had remembered Stevie Ray Vaughan, so Eric Clapton squared the circle of Gary’s lifelong love of the seminal Beano album by playing Still Got The Blues at his Royal Albert Hall dates in the weeks following Gary’s death and covering the song on his latest album, Old Sock.

“He (Gary) introduced himself to me a long time ago and I got an incredible feeling from the guy that he was a genuine good man and a great player. Lovely tone. And when he died I thought this was so sad. And well, it wasn’t ignored, but it wasn’t given a great deal of significance, so I just wanted to say thank you by doing this and I wanted his family to know as much as anybody in the public, that I cared. And I thought a good way to do it would be to show that the song itself is strong, enough to be adaptable – so I did it in a jazzy, clubby kind of way. Thank God musicians do that for one another.”

But last word to Albert King, never one to readily dish out praise; “I didn’t think he could play. I thought he was just another kid trying to get off into the blues guitar world… but listening to that kid play the wildest things… Golly Moses, where did he come from?”

This article first appeared in The Blues #7, June 2013.


 
 8-6740 John McLaughlin burst - Paris show mid 90s - thanks to Tom Wilson for this image
DAVE GILMOUR 55 GOLDTOP STORY ex Vic
The'55 all gold LP was my guitar at one time . Around 1978, give or take a year, I was working at a guitar shop ( Go figure..LOL )..It was three days before Christmas when I saw an olde lady and I'm assuming her daughter carry two brown guitar cases through the front door . I asked her what
she had in the cases ( Like I didn't know ….LOL...she put the guitars on the counter. I opened up the bigger case first not to draw attention to the LP case . I opened the case and I was a little bummed. It was a 4 string tenor hollow body electric. Now to open up the LP case.I slowly opened the case and there it
was, an all gold 55 LP with the tissue paper still in the case. I broke out in a cold sweat . Talk about a true guitar find . MERRY CHRISTMAS to me . I struck a deal with her and bought the two guitars. I loved that Goldtop for about three months when I had to sell it for financial reasons. In those days I couldn't afford to keep everything I bought. So I called up my bud, Timm Kummer at Guitar Trader . He bought the
LP from me and sold to it either David G or his buyer at the time. I'd say it went to the right home for sure. I sometimes think of the Christmas Goldtop and remember what great times I had at that guitar shop. I hope this note reaches the new buyer and he now knows the pre-Gilmour days of his newly acquired treasure