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Famous Guitarists’ Guitar Fails

You are not alone. 99.999% of all guitarists have, at some point, encountered problems when playing live. And if you haven’t… be sure you WILL, at some point!

If you haven’t seen this video, which compiles a few clips of famous guitarists and their embarrassing guitar fails. A sobering reminder that even the most famous guitarists are just humans like the rest of us…

Top 5 guitar fails… and how to avoid them:

  • Fx pedal battery dies during set: always make sure to use new batteries before a gig!
  • Guitar strap comes off mid-song: come on, strap locks are not that expensive, are they?
  • Guitar string snaps: use heavier gauge, or make sure strings have been replaced recently.
  • Guitar lead comes off when you’re moving around: make sure to make your cable go between guitar body and strap.
  • Your guitar is too quiet: turn it up to 11!!!

Have YOU ever had an embarrassing moment when playing guitar on stage? Share your experience with the rest of the My Rare Guitars community! Simply leave a comment… we’d love to hear about it (even though you might not love to remember it…)

angry-wife

GAS Rule Book Addendum: Never Ever Use Your Wife’s Ebay Account to Buy a Guitar

We have been forced this week to make an ammendment to the popular, “GAS Rule Book”. After referring to Rule #23: “Never Ever Tell Your Spouse”, we followup with Rule #23b: “Never Ever Use Your Wife’s Ebay Account to Buy a Guitar”. I know it might seem obvious to most people, but after receiveing the following message yesterday, I thought it would be prudent to pass this along to my fellow GAS addicts. Read and learn:

Dear Seller,
I am writing to ask you to please cancel this purchase. My husband who has no experience (or business in my opinion) on ebay was tooling around on our shared computer and apparently mistakenly bought this guitar. Because I was already logged into eBay earlier that day, he met no resistance and says since he didn’t have to enter a credit card he thought it was like Amazon and he could just “look around”. I know, I know….. It doesn’t make sense to me either. But I do know the man reads nothing so it could happen.

Anyway… So, since this purchase is attached to me and not him and since I will be made to suffer with the bad rating and possibly getting kicked off eBay – which would make me very sad – I am hoping you will be kind to us.
Believe me he is being made to pay for this at home. So please put an end to his suffering and let me out of this purchase. I appeal to you kind person?. Please! Sincerely, (name deleted)

So there you go folks. Yes, we cancelled the order but something tells me this man won’t see the end to his suffering anytime soon.

Remeber, be careful out there.

Although you can hardly blame the guy, he was after one of these:

The Classic 12 (12-string) guitar from Eastwood Guitars

The Classic 12 (12-string) guitar from Eastwood Guitars

On The Road With The Urinals (Sept. 2009)

It wasn’t even a tour…just a few dates in the Midwest over a long weekend. But it sounded like fun. Even a short time on the road is usually a good time, and we’d be playing with our buds from Chicago, the fabulous Mannequin Men, for all three dates. And it proved to be the great time it promised to be. If you want a cure for the blues, hot the road with the Mannequin Men for a few days. They remind me while I love rock and roll—seeing them on a good night reminds me of when I got to see the Replacements on a good one. A band that’s at once tight and loose, with great songs and killer hooks. What’s not to love?

The Urinals: Kev, John & Rob (2008)

The Urinals: Kev, John & Rob (2008)

Plus, we’d second on the bills to Midwestern legends Killdozer, which sounded fun.

And a few days on the road with John and Kevin (the founding/original members of the Urinals) is always great. So, off we went.

I realized on this trip they don’t pay you for playing shows—they pay you for getting on planes and driving though seemingly endless fields of corn with billboards for Cheese and Fireworks. The shows are a blast—but you earn your money eating crappy road food and praying you’ll never see another stalk of corn.

So, it was up early Thursday and off to LAX. I’d brought my Tele (a new one as I can’t replace my ’69 of something happened to it on the road) and my Eastwood Airline Tuxedo, some pedals and cable. We’d be using a backline on the shows—i.e., other people’s amps and drums—so I just brought a good overdrive pedal, not knowing what kind of tubes I’d be pushing (none, it turns out).

We got to Chicago, got stuck in truly dreadful traffic and found the hotel. A 30 minute nap was followed by more hideous traffic—complete with tolls! In Chicago, not only is driving a slice of hell, but you pay cash for the privilege of sitting sucking diesel fumes and doing less than one mile an hour.

We finally get to the club and, despite being late, we get a sound check. My guitar sounds pretty terrible, as I’m using a new pedal and a borrowed amp (a Roland Jazz Chorus this night). My Tele’s too brittle and bright. I decide to use the dirt pedal I know better at the show.

Using borrowed amps is one of the things you get used to on the road. Normally, at home, I use, for various gigs: a little Lafayette duel EL84 (for small gigs with the other band), a late 50’s Magnatone 260 (modified for more gain and volume), or a Mack Skyraider (for louder Urinal gigs). In the studio, I’m spoiled with a bunch of lower wattage vintage Valcos and such. So, I’m kinda spoiled amp-wise.

But, out of town, you come to realize that most of the crowd couldn’t give a rat’s ass about your tone. They’re out for a fun night with good songs played well. They don’t really, hard as it is for a guitar geek to admit, know the difference between a Tweed Deluxe and a Line 6. And, while you might more readily play better with an amp you love, part of being a pro is not letting that kind of thinking affect your playing. That positive mindset is hard to keep when you end up playing, as I did once, through a 70’s Peavey PA head that a club thought was just fine for guitar.

So, the Chicago show goes well, the Abbey is a great place with great sound, and the show goes off without a hitch—I don’t even break a string. Kev, from the MM, joins us for a spirited “I’m a Bug.”

A hot woman thanks John for playing “Strip Club” (Kevin and I look at each other like, “we were there too” but she’s only talking to John. Some other woman at the merch table tells John he has the “Sexiest voice in rock and roll.” She’s cute, too. I get a bunch of geeky guitar guys asking about my guitars and my elbow. No fair.

Day two consists of much driving though Illinois and Wisconsin. We stop for photos under an enormous metal cow and a giant “CHEESE” sign. At every road stop are billboards for cheese and fireworks. On seemingly every mile of travel is…corn…corn…more corn. It’s a good thing that John and Kevin (the other Urinals) are two of the funniest, easiest tempered guys in the world.

Much kidding John about the Sexiest Voice in Rock and Roll.

Before the show, we hit what’s purported to be a great St. Vincent DePaul (recommended by the guys in Killdozer, who know the town well). Men from Killdozer don’t lie—this is a great vintage shop. I get some cool vintage plaid pants and some odd bean that I wear onstage that night. Michael, the bass player from Killdozer, tells me about a Goodwill in town that is organized by color. All the green clothes, men’s or women’s, in one section, all the orange in another and so on.

Night two, in Madison, at the High Noon Saloon, is a blast. The owner, Kathy (Cathy?) is super cool, the green room is comfortable and clean, and each band has a huge cooler of beer and water. Stylin’

Show goes pretty well. Pop a string on my Tele on the fourth or fifth song. The Tuxedo sounds fatter, anyway. The amp the 2nd night is a Silverface Twin Reverb….a fine amp, but not one you can get into distortion without peeling the faces of the first twenty feet of the audience. So, once again, most of my distortion comes from a pedal.

I go out to have a smoke after our set in Madison, still wearing the beanie from St. Vincent DePaul and some guy says, “Nice hat, faggot.”

Later, at merch table, a guy says, “You sounded pretty good for a hippy.” (Kev from Mannequin Men offers to punch him for me. It’s good to have passionate friends, but I tell him not to punch the guy. “Say the world, and I’ll go Miagi on his ass.”).

I wonder what I did to Madison to get this treatment from strangers. Also, why hippie? I don’t mind being called a faggot, but hippie is another matter. Hippies are annoying. I have no hair. The guys in the band start calling me “the faggot hippy”.

Later, a woman wants the band’s autographs, but the last CD doesn’t have me on it, so I don’t want to sign. But it’s too hard to explain, so I had to sign Rod Barker’s name on a CD for a drunk woman who wanted autographs on WHAT IS REAL AND WHAT IS NOT.

The guys start calling me “Faggot, hippy Rod Barker” (Seemingly endless hours on the road leads to sophomoric humor).

At the merch table, a woman comes on to John. I get called more names. A woman says, “I NEVER thought I’d like a band called the Urinals.”

Next day’s drive to St. Paul. More corn. Eventually, blissfully, replaced with lakes and rivers.

Before the last night, we have dinner with the Mannequin Men and some of their cool pals. That puts our group at nine or ten for dinner. We try to go for Ethiopian food, but the place is packed, so we settle for pizza—a road staple we were hoping to mix up a bit, but no such luck. We make plans to do a cover single with the MM, where we cover one of theirs and they cover one of ours on a 45 (remember them? They’re back!). There’s talk of past tours and future tours and the general good-feeling of hanging with pals on the road.

The last night, at the Turf Club, I’d planned on using Ethan’s (from MM) Twin again, but the guys in Killdozer blew one of its speakers the night before. So I end up with the sound guy’s Fender Deville, which he tells me is a “great amp”. I’m not so sure that’s true, but it’s his and I don’t say anything, and it sounds fine…it gets loud and has a good clean channel (which sort of defeats the whole idea behind a tube amp, but whatever), so I can crank the clean and get, once again, dirt from the floor.

We have, maybe, our best show in St. Paul. Much fun. Miles and Kevin from MM join us on “I’m a Bug”. We close with a very fast version of 13th Floor Elevator’s/Roky Erickson’s “You’re Gonna Miss Me.”

We hang out at the club. It’s 1AM. Killdozer is playing a pretty great, over the top cover of “I Am, I Said.” We have a flight back to California in 5 hours and I’m wondering if I should nap or stay up all night. A woman hits on John after announcing, “I’m not a stalker, but I needed to see you!” Clearly, a stalker. To add insult to injury, her boyfriend stands there while she just about pins John to the pool table. Interesting. No one hits on me. More questions about the eBow and my guitars (well, my guitars are kind of cool). Ah, well. Rock and Roll.

Live Earth 2007: Private Jets for Climate Change

One of the most forgettable events from 2007 was Live Earth. I was clearing up my inbox today and found an article that I had clipped from the local Toronto newspaper, written by one of Canada’s national treasures, Rex Murphy. I got a real chuckle from this, so I thought I should share it with you.

For those who can’t remember, Live Earth was a series of worldwide concerts held on July 7, 2007 to combat climate change, spearheaded by Al Gore. The concerts brought together more than 150 musical acts in eleven locations around the world and were broadcast to a mass global audience through televisions, radio, and streamed via the Internet.

Live Earth 2007: Cleavage Climatologists

Live Earth 2007: Cleavage Climatologists

As Rex observed, “NBC gave 3 hours of prime time and managed to stir up only 2.7 million viewers – a number that would be embarrassing for a re-run of Three’s Company. It featured such acts as Madonna, Shakira and other “cleavage climatologists”. It was a flop. Why? The spectacle of the world’s most wasteful people, rock star plutocrats with their cribs and bling, caravans and trailer trucks and 100,000 watt amps, taking a day out of their wealth-stuffed lives to preach about the moral importance of consuming LESS, set the hypocrisy bar so high that it put too great a strain on the digestion of ordinary people”. Private Jets for climate change sums it up.

For the whole story, click on this link: Live Earth? How about live irony?

Lost Gear Therapy

I’ve already done a column about all the great equipment I lost in my drunken stupid years (as opposed to my current sober stupid years). It was, in its own way, a fun piece to write…a catalog and inventory of all the VERY cool guitar stuff (guitars, amps, pedals and so on) I let go for gas money, drug money, and/or stuff I left in apartments I wasn’t allowed to return back to either by landlords, ex-girlfriends, or sheriff’s departments up and down the east coast.

A legacy of my idiocy.

What’s strange is that it’s probably the column I have received the most mail on. People from all over the world wrote me about equipment they’d lost and the interesting ways they lost their stuff. They were all GREAT letters. Sad yet entertaining. We all had a story or two or twenty. It was like a gear geek AA meeting. ‘My name is so and so and I lost a FILL IN THE BLANK.’

If you put us in a room, I’m sure we’d wince at the equipment and the amazingly low price our brothers and sisters lost it for. We’d hug each other and pat backs and shake heads and bond over how dumb we could be. (Maybe we SHOULD start a ‘lost gear’ support group.)

The funny thing is, while I can go on and on about great gear I’ve lost, I rarely tell the stories of how lucky I am to have the gear I do have (especially now that I don’t sell AC30’s for a zip lock bag with what are SUPPOSED TO BE 20 Percocets!!! It’s bad enough to be dumb…but to be dumb and ripped off…wow.) But people who trade AC 30’s for disguised stool softener pills get what they deserve, I suppose. But back to the topic at hand: Lost cool gear.

Until VERY recently, I had a fond memory for this very cool multi-effects unit I bought at a yard sale back in the early 80’s in Connecticut. For those of you unfamiliar with the term ‘yard sale,’ it’s the same as a ‘tag sale’ or a ‘garage sale’ depending on where you live. It is a low rent estate sale. Without the dead people and with crappier stuff, mostly.

The thing I bought (and I had NO idea or memory what it was called) was about the size of a small suitcase. It had a handle on top and the case was a sort of brushed aluminum. When you set it down and touched a button on the top, one side of it opened to a floorboard with what looked like a wah-wah or volume pedal in the middle and three or four mushroom cloud-looking foot buttons that would turn various effects on and off. When plugged in, it had SEVERAL cool clear switches that looked like clear light switches with a wild array of colors shining through the control panel.

It looked like something out of the original Star Trek series and it was 10 bucks and I bought it.

And for the next 7-8 years, whenever another guitar player came to my house or apartment, I would show him or her this ridiculous box (Named ‘the box’ by me) I had that made a series of astounding (and yet pretty unusable) noises all while shining various great colors in the dark.

One of my friends and mine’s favorite applications for this thing was to take a hit of acid, turn the lights out and play this thing as loud as possible through my mid 70’s Twin Reverb (sold, as I recall, for 100 bucks in gas money in the late 80’s…’arrrrghhhh!’ as Charlie Brown would say). We’d rotate…the unlucky people would play bass or drums…the lucky one in the rotation got to play the light-up suitcase with all the lights and weird noises. Ah, ‘the box.’

Then, I feel deep under the influence of Glen Branca and a guitar player named Glenn Phillips, best known as the guitar player for the obscure Hampton Grease Band. By the 80’s, however, he was deep into his solo career (he still plays…catch him if you can) as one of the oddest, most wonderful and interesting instrumental rock musicians. His album Razor Pocket is one of the truly great instrumental rock guitar albums. FIND IT, if you care about great guitar players. Someone at ‘Guitar Player’ in those days dubbed him ‘Mahavishnu Johnny Ramone’ which is actually kind of accurate. His has the chops and improvisational skills of a Jazz horn player, with the energy and velocity of a raging punk guitar player. A proto Nels Cline. He’s astounding. Find Razor Pocket or any of his other solo outings. He has the rare gift of writing catchy, melodic guitar instrumentals with monster chops and cool noises.

Anyway, I had fallen deeply under the spell of great guitar noisemakers. So, I started using ‘the box’ in a new band, at gigs, not just at acid parties at the apartment. During free form noise shows with my ‘art’ punk band of the time, I would use ‘the box’ and I now realized it had SEVERAL usable noises and settings. It had a VERY weird and thin sounding fuzz-type effect that would cause huge, annoying overtones and octaves and harmonic swirls when turned up (and we were nothing, if not VERY turned up, volume wise). We had another ‘guitar’ player who would tune all his strings to one note and repeatedly drop his guitar for his ‘solo’. It was a happening, man. ‘The box’ also had a sort of tremolo effect. A pulsing noise to add to the Fizzle effect. And then there was this odd filter/compression sound. When they were all on together, along with a Big Muff and the amps on 10…well, it sort of didn’t matter what you played note-wise, as the whole guitar was swallowed by these effects that would create this Niagara Falls of noise that just took your body over—it wasn’t really music, but it was astoundingly inside you when ‘the box’ really got going.

After that band was banned from most clubs in Boston, I moved, and ‘the box’ was retired as I played in more conventional bands. And all I know is, years later, I don’t have it. I may have given it away. I may have left it in an apartment when I moved. I may have sold it for a few bucks. But, by the time I was sober and had moved west, ‘the box’ was a thing of my past.

I really had nothing but fond memories for this weird effect until very recently, when I was reading Analog Man’s Guide to Vintage Effects. It’s a great book—one, along with Dave Hunter’s Guitar Effects Pedals: The Practical Handbook that any fan of effects should check out.

However there is one terrible thing about Analog Man’s book. One horrifying, crappy, sad, awful thing about the book.

What is this terrible thing about the Analog Man book?

It identified ‘the box’ for me. There were two pictures, so that I could point to it and tell my wife, ‘That’s IT. That’s THE BOX!’ While she nodded patiently at my insanity with what seemed to me to be not nearly enough interest.

1970 Ludwig Phase II Guitar Synthesizer

1970 Ludwig Phase II Guitar Synthesizer

It turns out ‘the box’ was a Ludwig Phase II Synthesizer. The tremolo effect was called ‘Animation.’ The weird filter thing was called ‘Formant Trajectories.’ The fuzz was, well, fuzz. There are 4 sliders on the top, four mushroom cloud foot switches. A pedal for wah-esque effects. And seven light up switches on the top.

So, what’s so terrible about this news? Knowledge is good, no? Well, no, it turns out. Not this time, anyway.

I learned they go for 3-4 THOUSAND dollars on eBay. Not a misprint. Three to four thousand dollars. The box was cool. VERY cool. But it was not a 4 thousand dollar effect (I don’t know if I think there is such a thing…well, I believe there is such a thing when I’m selling, but not when I’m buying).

But, I keep trying to remind myself, if I hadn’t lost it in whatever forgettable way it was that I lost it, I would probably have lost it in such a really stupid way that I would have regretted it every day of my life and all I would have to show for it would be a column about how dumb I was that I lost ‘the box.’

Clint Black’s Band Wanted My Cardboard Bogdon Bass!

I’m the luckiest guy alive. It’s my cardboard box upright bass that’s gaining celebrity status. I’m merely the box bass valet. I’m losing my mind, or the Bogdon box bass is actually developing a personality/character.

Here’s yesterday’s series of events:

I called home and talked to my 8 year old son. He said that some guy named Clint called, but daddy was at work so Chad hung up the phone. I though it was no big deal at the time and said that I’d be home just after 7pm. I got another call from my bass-making- partner telling me that somebody claiming to be part of the Clint Black/Dwight Yoakum tour is inviting me to meet the band if I bring my cardboard box bass.

My partner is invisible in everything I post on the web, so if somebody actually found his phone number and put him with the box bass, then this scenario must be real. I called the number that was given to me, and had a nice chat with a voice that took my name and number and asked me to meet him before 7pm tonight at gate #1. I thanked him politely, but told him that I can’t get there till after 7pm because I’m still at work. I have responsibilities until 6:30pm. He asked if I can leave earlier, I replied no. I’m just a regular guy. He gave me his cell phone number and asked me to call him as I leave work, and again as I get near Pine Knob (DTE) He called me at 7:15pm asking me where I was because he was waiting outside and it was cold. I assured him that I was getting nearer to the venue (I was totally lost and in a party store asking directions) – I told the 7-11 counter guy that Clint Black’s band asked me to join them at Pine Knob today. He said ‘cool’ and I was on my way hoping to get to the gig without pissing off anyone. I pulled into the parking lot and phoned Brad, we met easily and I let him in my minivan as he directed me to park next to the tour buses – dammm this was fun.

Bogdon Box Bass

Bogdon Box Bass

Dwight Yoakam was playing too, and I was given an all-area-back-stage pass. It was a strange feeling. It was as if everyone knew who I was but I never met anyone here. I just kept repeating the phrase “It’s All About The Bass.” EVERYONE there knew who I was, I was “the cardboard guy” and they were happy that I joined them. I was in the dressing room jamming with the band, talking about our families, food, and music theory…

Bogdon Box Bass

Bogdon Box Bass

I got a GREAT upright-slapping- bass lesson from a bass legend as we laughed about cardboard and talked of wood density. The keyboardist gigged with Clint Black and all the Nashville great’s, he told me that I’m the ‘latest and greatest’ thing in his house at home and he asked me if I’d take a picture with him. I told him that I’m a mailman at heart and that I just play music for now until I make it big in the Postal bizzness… we laughed and hugged he gave me his cell phone number and we’ll exchange cheap camera pix. I talked to the road crew and asked how long they were on the road and if they had eaten yet, they hadn’t but told me that there’d be a dinner after they tear down the show… the tour has been traveling for most if the year. The monitor guy asked me if I want to plug into the sound system after Clint Black was done, and told me to be here with my box bass before the set ended. The show was fabulous! Clint Black played Hello Goodbye (Beatles), Black Curtains (Cream) and some hip classic country. I was rockin’ with my box bass backstage near the monitor board. Clint Black’s set ended and the house lights came on but the monitor guy said that he was told NOT to bring me on stage. Clint Blacks bassist grabbed my arm told me to hurry up and escorted me onto the stage and plugged my bass into the system… (for a moment I felt like a politician having to scurry after a public speech).

Bogdon Box Bass

Bogdon Box Bass

Without exchanging a word with anyone, the guy plugged my bass into his rig and I jammed my bass as if I were in Carnegie Hall as the road crew cheered. My cousin Alan got a few pictures and after about 5 minutes I sensed that my time was up, so I politely unplugged myself and thanked the stage crew. I went back to the dressing room to discover that everyone was gone. I gathered up my stuff and quietly left. I was comfortably normal with those musicians. They totally embraced me into their realm and we shared genuine fun. The bass tech asked if I’d sell it for $100, I said that it’s going to be on display in a Birmingham restaurant next week, so ‘no’… He asked if I’d give it to him and we laughed. I didn’t give my bass away. Call me crazy, but I didn’t have to give the bass away. I wasn’t in selling mode. I made a friendly connection with Nashville musicians who spent a few hours with me and I left with a phone number and email addresses. So I think that my sales mode should kick in after this weekend holiday. I’m a Postal Worker and Monday is Columbus Day!

Post by: Chris Badynee

Ol’ Waylon Jennings

I believe this story happened in about 1966, during my last year of high school at Paradise Valley High in Phoenix, Arizona. I was a wannabe rock ‘n roll guy and like most of my friends, always had a few guitars lying around. I had this one friend, Richard Guimont, who was not a musician, but his Mom just happened to own JD’s night club in Scottsdale.

JD’s was kind of an upscale country sort of place, and countr was not really my bag in those days. But, because of knowing Richard, I could get in free, and they did occasionally have a few decent acts, such as the Everly Bros, or Johnny Rivers -so I had been there a few times. At about this point in time, however, JD’s had a “house band” known as Waylon Jennings and the Waylors. Waylon was a young ex-disc jockey, who had just come up to Phoenix from Texas. His only claim to fame up to that point was a brief stint with Buddy Holly’s band, before that fateful “day the music died.” I’d seen Waylon’s act a couple times, and thought he was actually pretty decent for a local guy. He did a lot of country- folk, or folk-rock kind of stuff then, including several Dylan songs, and a cool version of House of the Rising Sun. He was actually a very good guitarist, a fact which kind of got lost in his later stardom.

Waylon Jennings

Waylon Jennings

Anyway, getting back to my story, my friend Richard one day called me up and said that he was looking for a guitar for Waylon – a Telecaster (he had to spell it out, as he had never heard the word before). Knowing that I occasionally wheeled & dealed with guitars, he thought maybe I could help him get a line on one -cheap, he added, as Waylon was poor.

I said, “that’s what he already has, Richard, that thing he’s got all gaudied up with carved leather and his name all over it”. He said, “yeah, all that leather & inlays & stuff, cost him a lot. He wants to save it for important shows, and get a backup for practice & stuff”.

It just so happens that I had an old Tele, at the time. I had taken it in on a trade for a Japanese Teisco. Some guy at school wanted it, because he thought it looked liked George Harrsion’s Country Gentleman. Anyway, the Tele was just sitting in the closet, as I was into Strats & Gibson SG’s, more proper rock ‘n roll guitars. Teles were for the country dudes, in my book. Besides this one was really OLD (that was not really thought of as a good thing in those days – we wanted new stuff!) I’d say it was at least 10 years old, and it was really plain looking, what with it’s clear finish and matching maple fretboard.

So, Richard picked me up that night, and off we headed to JD’s, guitar in tow. We sat through Waylon’s first set, then we went backstage to show him the Tele. I kept apologizing for it being so old, but Waylon didn’t seem to mind. He was noodling around on it and seemed to like it. He asked, “How much?” I said I would take a hundred bucks.

He said, “how ’bout seventy five?” I said OK (I think I had paid about $25.00 for the Teisco.) He said something about coming back next week for my money. I said , “fine, but I’m not leaving the guitar.” He ignored me for a while, as if we were finished, but he didn’t seem to want to put down the old Tele. Finally Richard piped in and said, “Come on Waylon, pay the dude.” Waylon said he was broke, but the guys in the band managed to come up with the $75.00, and I left, just thankful that I had actually gotten paid, and a bit ticked off that I hadn’t held out for the full hundred.

I never saw Waylon again. Richard told me later that he had done the leather and inlay thing on my guitar too, and that it had become his favorite. I didn’t care. By then I had sold most of my stuff to accumulate the exorbitant total of $398.00, plus tax, to buy a brand new Mosrite.

Like most 60’s guitar dudes, I watched the values of those old guitars climb over the next 30 years or so. “Old” eventually became “Vintage”, and so on. I probably gave away a few hundred thousand dollars worth of guitars, when all is said and done. But that one old Tele, somehow sticks in my mind.

As you well know, Waylon didn’t stay too much longer at JD’s. Just before his recent premature death from diabetes complications, there was an ad in Vintage guitar magazine, selling off a bunch of his old equipment, as they knew he wouldn’t be touring any more.

There were a couple old 50’s Teles, decked out with the leather, etc., going for somewhere between $25,000.00 and $30,000.00. But a guy I know in Nashville, said there was a really special one, that Waylon wouldn’t sell -his favorite. I meant to try and get in touch with Waylon before he died, to ask him where he got that one special 50’s Tele, but unfortunately I waited too long. Maybe I’m better off not to know, anyway.

Post by: Tim Robinette

The Beatles in My Cousin’s Backyard Swimming Pool

Growing up in Miami during the 60’s was a lot of fun with the beaches and the good weather, there was a small town atmosphere. I didn’t realize then what a hot bed of music I was living in. Battle of The Bands every weekend at the Concord Shopping Center, your basic strip mall. You could hear the music on my front porch. Mostly Surf and instrumental tunes, matching shirts, guitars and blond Fender piggy back amps…the typical garage band fair , but some of my favorites to this day!

All of this is cronicled in Jeff Lemrichs book – Savage Lost – about the South Florida Garage scene.

Life Magazine, Feb. 1984: The Beatles in my cousin's backyard swimming pool

Life Magazine, Feb. 1984: The Beatles in my cousin’s backyard swimming pool

Every other weekend I would go to my cousin’s house with my 62′ CAR Strat and Bandmaster to practice in his garage. These were large homes built in what they call {in Florida} a Hammock, heavy vegetation all around so that you could not see the house nextdoor or across the street. Richard was the guy behind my cousins house who had drums and a P.A., so naturally he was our first choice to join our band.

Early 1964 we were playing every weekend, the garage ,backyard parties and the occasional school dance.

On the Wednesday before a Saturday night gig, Richard call’s and says he wouldn’t be able to make it, he has to help his Dad, a Dade County Sheriff on special detail. This Sucked! No drummer, no P.A. no Saturday Night Gig!! That Friday after school we went to see Richard to beg his Dad to let him off…..

We were stopped at the drive-way by two huge Sheriff’s officers and told to Go Away.. Up the drive we could see three black Cadillac Fleetwoods { I know Cars!} We asked them to tell Richard we came by as a last resort. Saturday came and went and we were more than puzzled by what was going on. This was the same neighborhood were Jack “Murf The Surf” Murphy lived during his diamond hiesting days!

Sunday I was getting ready to call Mom to come pick me up and go home. About three in the afternoon Rich calls and says he can’t talk about whats been happening at his house but if we will get dressed in our Sunday clothes he will meet us in an hour with a big surprise that will” make everything right with the world!”

Right on time Mrs. Shindler’s gold 64′ Grand Prix shows up, Rich in the front seat smiling from ear to ear! “Sorry I couldn’t talk to you guy’s this week, but we had house guests and security was tight”. What gives? “We are on our way to Miami Beach to the Deauville Hotel for the tapeing of the Ed Sullivan Show!!”

His Dad, Sheriff Schindler was in charge of Beatles security while they were in Miami!! Our pal, our drummer had The Beatles in his house!! His Pool! His room! And he could’nt tell a soul!! Our lives were changed that weekend. We were already Fanatics and had all the records and had already cut back on the surf music! The show was awesome, you saw it too! I buzzed on this for years! That Life magazine cover story was shot in the Shindler’s pool, on their diving board! In 51 years of living that weekend of laying around totally bummed out and dejected is one of the best couple of days I ever had!

Post by: Mark Harvey from Dallas, TX

Life Lacking Harmony: The Close Relationship Between Booze & Lost Gear

This is not an article about why you shouldn’t drink. It is, however, probably one about why I shouldn’t drink. Many musicians, maybe even most, can drink and keep their equipment. Me? No dice. I lost really cool guitars, amps, effects – you name it, I had a knack for losing it.

Even as a high-schooler with long hair, no understanding that a volume knob could be turned down and a frighteningly bad technique with a whammy bar, I seemed to be able to find rare, odd and, in general, cool equipment. I got my ability to spot gold among the trash probably from my dad, who was a gear-head and many of the best times we spent together were running through junkyards looking for a treasure someone else had tossed away (this led, however, to the abject horror of holding a flashlight in the garage while he screamed “That’s great, now how about holding it where I’m looking?” But that is another story).

So, I found guitars. While my Metallica and Black Sabbath-loving brethren were finding the newest pointy-headed Super-Strat monster, I found a 1979 Travis Bean metal neck at a yard sale. I found a 1963 Burgundy Melody Maker. A 1983 “The Strat” in Lake Placid Blue with a maple fretboard. A 1935 Martin R-17 Archtop I bought from the original owner (a, as one might guess, very old man). A 1969 Telecaster (in its original case that came with a very dry crinkly stale bag of dope) for $250.00.

This was all in high school.

By college, I’d dumbed my way into a mid-60’s Fender Twin reverb (traded for a Washburn (!?) acoustic). In 1987, I traded a diamond earring (which my grandmother had given to me to have set in a ring when I met that “special someone”) for a 1966 Harmony H72 (with factory Bigsby!) at a Philadelphia pawnshop when my band was in town for a show. It came with a brown vinyl gig bag, too – a steal.

So what went wrong?

I got drunk. A lot. A warning. For the true gear-heads/guitar lovers out there, this will be painful and graphic – as my stupidity knew no bounds for a while. Let’s get started….

At a show at some motel with a swimming pool, I ran into said pool without taking my ?69 Tele off. So, new electronics were in order. Later, I decided a fret job couldn’t be so hard, so I went with the low bidder. A tip. NEVER go with the low bidder on your guitar neck. Not a 69 Tele, anyway. Trust me.

The ’63 Melody Maker? It was a beefy monster of a little guitar and I used it in both punk and blues-based Stones/Faces type bands, until I fell in love with a woman. One who lived in Florida. I was in Boston. I was at a bar off Boylston, convinced that if I could sit her down and talk face-to-face, she’d be convinced of my greatness as a young sensitive singer-songwriter and see her way clear to letting me sleep with her, at the very least.

The ’63 Melody Maker went for a hundred bucks in gas money to a guy named “Ducky” at Daddy’s Junky Music in Boston. The woman in question had the good sense to avoid any and all advances and left me for what I’m certain were greener pastures. So, the Melody Maker was gone without any evidence of it ever existing, save some foggy memories and a few of the fireworks I bought with the gas money at South of the Border.

Next? The Fender Twin. This was the 80’s, you have to remember. And I was 20. A dumb decade and a dumb age for guitars and guitar players. And while a Fender Twin was a cool sounding amp, it was – well, old. And it wasn’t super loud. So, the plan was to sell the Twin and/or trade it for a Marshall Stack (I was in a cow punk band at the time and, looking back, the Twin would have been fine). But the bass player knew a coke dealer who could get us a deal.

The Fender Twin went for an 8-ball of cocaine to a guy named Mel who said he was doing me a favor taking “this old thing” off my hands for his fine drugs. Not enough painkillers in the world to make me numb, to this day, about that one. I had to get a Peavey 2X12 and my tone was very lousy for quite a while.

The Lake Placid Blue Strat was traded for an Ovation cutaway acoustic that melted in the trunk of a car driving through the Mohave.

The Travis Bean? A junky roommate named Ray stole it. I have no idea what he got for it. He was going bald and sang in a heavy metal band and was the first guy I ever heard say Rogaine which was supposed to help him maintain, as he called them, his “locks.”

Given away to a guy named Skeeter who ran our rehearsal space: An early 80’s Ibanez Tube Screamer.

Lost in one of the 11 apartment moves in 5 years and/or on the road: An Ibanez Flanger, an early 70’s Envelope Filter, and Echoplex tape delay and a late 60’s Big Muff and Cry Baby Wah Pedal.

Lost in a fire when earlier-mentioned rehearsal space was deluged in water damage when the falafel hut next door caught on fire (after hours – no one hurt): 1971 Stratocaster, natural, maple three-bolt neck with the bullet truss rod.

Left in an apartment in Sarasota, Florida: a lawsuit-era Hummingbird copy. I left it with a summer sub-letter and never went back to town (also lost in that mishap was a 1963 Bob Dylan live at Syracuse framed poster and all my Chess records ^%@$ argh).

And, the topper. My buddy Jeff had a wife who I was convinced didn’t like me and one night, they were visiting and we were all drunk and she’d said, “I want to learn to play guitar.” Now, Jeff had (and has) plenty of guitars. This is a man who’d found (and kept!) a Gretsch at a yard sale that the guy wanted 20 bucks for and Jeff talked him down to 12. Jeff sells guitars for profit. Not a fool like me. But anyway, I thought some grand gesture was called for so I insisted that the wife who hated me take my Harmony H-72.

I missed it all the time. It made me sick how I’d squandered so much cool guitar stuff over the years. When I finally sobered up, I had (oddly enough) my ’69 Tele, my 1935 Martin R-17 (a total Edsel of a Martin (quite possibly the only non-collectable guitar they ever made) and a cheesy little Gorilla Amp.

Then, newly sober (for quite a few years now) and with a real job (or a sort of real one – I was a musician and writer), I started getting funky old guitars again. This time actually holding on to them and/or selling them. For real prices. Not gas and cocaine money from guys named Ducky and Mel. I play and record with mostly a couple of Harmonys (a 3 pickup Rocket and a Sovereign), a Jazzmaster, A Danelectro, an Eastwood Delta 6 (thanks Mike!), and a rotating crop of oddballs that come and go (in a good way).

Jeff came to visit many years and many cities and states (for both of us) later. He was divorced and now getting remarried. I asked him if the ex still had my Harmony H72. “Are you crazy?” he said. “I wouldn’t leave that nice a guitar with her.”

Then he told me, in the truest spirit of friendship only a fellow guitar nut could understand, “I’ve been saving it for you. It’s under the bed. Just let me know when you’re ready.” This is 12 years later. He brought it from Hawaii to Seattle and mailed it to me. My guitar was back. He’d saved me from myself. I offered him one of my guitars as a thank you, but he shrugged it off.

I play that Harmony H-72 on stage now all the time. Jeff plays in a band in Seattle – this is my bid to get him the Eastwood Stormbird giveaway. I play the Eastwood I have all the time and it’s a killer guitar and I think it would be a really cool way to thank Jeff if he won the Eastwood Stormbird. It would go to a great musician, a cool guy and someone who clearly understands the value of an instrument beyond the dollar sign.

Earache My Eastwood: Meeting Tommy Chong

After his 9 month bid in the clink for selling bongs, Tommy Chong was released from prison and began his comedy tour. When I heard that he would be performing in my home town (London, Ontario) on Jan 28th, 2005, I was like “No way man! I can not miss out on the chance to see Tommy Chong do stand up at Yuk Yuk’s!” Luckily I was able to get tickets for this event; for he was scheduled to do 4 shows in 2 days and all were sold out.

Tommy Chong holding my Eastwood Phantom Guitar

Tommy Chong holding my Eastwood Phantom Guitar

Now Tommy Chong had other hits besides the ones with a bong, a joint. He was also in a band called Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers. While performing in a small club in Vancouver, Diana Ross discovered the band’s unique talent and brought them to the attention of Berry Gordy – who signed them to Motown. (Another fun fact: Jimi Hendrix, working as an R&B sideman, joined the group in December-1962 until he met up with Little Richard and left.)

Tommy Chong on stage at Yuk Yuk's in London, Ontario (Jan. 2005)

Tommy Chong on stage at Yuk Yuk's in London, Ontario (Jan. 2005)

The group’s debut “Does Your Mama Know About Me” written in ’68 by Tommy Chong and Tom Baird, provided them with a surprise top-40 hit that managed to stay on the charts for ten weeks! Only later in ’69 for Chong to disband and team up with Cheech . A far cry from the stuff we all know Chong for playing; Beaners, Earache My Eye, and Up In Smoke – which he performed at his show.

Me with Tommy Chong

Me with Tommy Chong

His passion for playing the guitar is what brought my Eastwood Phantom along with me. After the show, I had a chance to meet him. At a lose for words, I remember muttering to him: “Tommy Chong,I love you man!”

We both laughed. Then I asked him if he could sign my guitar with an inspirational message. As I took my guitar out if it’s box, I can hear the ooh’s & ahh’s, and the comments of it being a wicked guitar from the crowd & Tommy! His face lit up, to be given such a thing to autograph. It was the highlight of my life!

Tommy Chong signing my Eastwood Phantom Guitar

Tommy Chong signing my Eastwood Phantom Guitar

So I packed my Eastwood back in its box without looking at the graph and waited until I got home. I wanted it to be a surprise. Now the thing is – when you get something autographed, you are supposed to hide it in a vault and never touch it, or look at it again (so they say). However, it’s not that easy when it’s an Eastwood, and my only guitar. That’s like telling a kid he can’t have candy!

In result, the autograph is smudged and not getting any better, – so time to get a new one -and quick! I must salvage what is left as I leave you with some wise words left to me by Chong on my guitar:

Tommy Chong's autograph on my Eastwood Phantom Guitar

Tommy Chong's autograph on my Eastwood Phantom Guitar

Post by: Ziggy Majewski