I was on my own in NY for Christmas Day ’75 and spent most of the day in bed recovering from a seriously late party the night before where among the guests was Harry Nilsson. On Boxing Day, which Americans don’t celebrate, I was up bright and early and decided that since no one had bought me any Christmas presents I’d buy one for myself.
I walked through Central Park and all the way down to West 48th Street which is like Denmark Street in London, wall-to-wall guitar shops. I’d already visited Manny’s, the famous music shop where the big acts bought their gear, and even done an MM story on the place. (Before The Who did a US tour their soundman Bobby Pridden or stage manager Wiggy would drop by and pick up 20 Les Pauls for Pete, then return the unused ones at the end of the tour and settle up on those reduced to splinters.)
I found what I was looking for a few doors down from Manny’s in a shop called We Buy Guitars, a used small-scale Gibson LG2 acoustic, circa 1958, so I paid the asking price of $165 + tax and slipped the receipt into the accessory compartment in its case where it has stayed ever since. It is the guitar in the centre of my FB header above, and Elvis played one just like it in Loving You, his second movie. The nearest thing to the same guitar made by Gibson today is called The Blues King with a list price of $2,960. Although I could play a bit (though to be honest I’m pretty useless), two weeks later I enrolled in a guitar school run by Eddie Simon, Paul’s brother, and over the next few months painstakingly learned how to finger pick claw-hammer style.
My son Sam started learning to play on this guitar about two years ago and is now streets ahead of me. I wish I’d had a Gibson to learn on when I was his age.