• info@eastwoodguitars.com

Tag Archive ed sullivan

The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show (1964)

If I Had A Time Machine… (Part 1)

The other day I was thinking about what I would do if I had a time machine. Would I travel back in time? Or would I travel forward? Or would I travel sideways? I don’t even know! But then I got to thinking: what if I could go back and be at some awesome and/or strange events in the world of music? Which events would I choose to visit? And that is the question that got me started on this list. It’s not a Top 10 List. Or even a Top 20. I’m just going to start running through some events that come to mind…mainly ones where I can find a picture to share. I’m going to try to update this list on a monthly basis. Feel free to share in the comments. I’m sure you all can think of some great moments to go back and visit (if/when possible). (Note: I’m sure I’m going to leave out a lot of amazingly-important events in the history of music. And I’m probably going to leave out your favorite musicians and bands. Sorry about that. It’s just the nature of lists. Feel free to comment with your own would-be entries for this ongoing list. Thanks!)

  • Pink Floyd & The Who (New Year’s Eve, 1966, Manchester)
    Admission 1 pound?!?! Honestly, if I only had a time machine for 1 trip, I’d have to use it to go back and see this show. I mean, SERIOUSLY?!?

    Pink Floyd with The Who (New Year's Eve, 1966, Manchester)

    Pink Floyd with The Who (New Year's Eve, 1966, Manchester)

  • Red Hot Chili Peppers with Nirvana and Pearl Jam (New Year’s Eve, 1991, San Francisco)
    Three of the biggest bands from my childhood together on New Year’s Eve. Wow.

    Red Hot Chili Peppers with Nirvana & Pearl Jam (New Year's Eve 1991, San Francisco)

    Red Hot Chili Peppers with Nirvana & Pearl Jam (New Year's Eve 1991, San Francisco)

  • The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show (1964)
    If *anyone* has a time machine, I’m pretty sure this is a mandatory stop. This is one of those moments that changed our music world forever.

    The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show (1964)

    The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show (1964)

  • Bob Dylan with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (Portland, Oregon – June 29, 1986)
    I got this picture in a forwarded email. Apparently, someone found these ticket stubs in a book they checked out at a local library. Pretty sweet deal, I’d say! Anyways, I bet that was a kickass concert.

    Bob Dylan with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers concert ticket stubs (June 1986 - Portland, OR)

    Bob Dylan with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers concert ticket stubs (June 1986 - Portland, OR)

  • Bob Marley, Mick Jagger & Peter Tosh (1978)
    Peter Tosh is one of my all-time favorite musicians. I’m not exactly certain of where this picture was taken, but I’m going to assume that it was during the recording of Tosh’s album Bush Doctor because both Jagger and Marley contributed to that album. I would have LOVED to be in the studio during those sessions!

    Bob Marley, Mick Jagger & Peter Tosh (1978)

    Bob Marley, Mick Jagger & Peter Tosh (1978)

  • Charles Barkley hosts SNL with musical guest Nirvana (1993, Saturday Night Live)
    I’m a big fan of Saturday Night Live. Yes, I know. It’s terrible these days, right? Well, that’s what everyone says every year.  But I’ve stuck with it this long. What’s another year? Anyways…back in 1993, there was an episode that featured Charles Barkley as host and Nirvana as the musical guest. I could probably find this on Hulu or YouTube, but I would have loved to be in the audience that night. I’m sure the chemistry was magical. And to make things even more awesome, there were cameos by RuPaul and Muggsy Bogues. Now that is outstanding.

    Charles Barkley and Nirvana on Saturday Night Live (1993)

    Charles Barkley and Nirvana on Saturday Night Live (1993)

    Charles Barkley, Nirvana, RuPaul & Muggsy Bogues on SNL (1993)

    Charles Barkley, Nirvana, RuPaul & Muggsy Bogues on SNL (1993)

  • Madonna, Sting & Tupac (1994, Tribeca dinner party)
    Not much to say here. Just an odd grouping. I miss Tupac.

    Madonna, Sting & Tupac (Tribeca dinner party, 1994)

    Madonna, Sting & Tupac (Tribeca dinner party, 1994)

  • Michael Jackson & Freddie Mercury (circa 1980)
    I’m not sure when or where this picture was taken. All I can find out is that Michael Jackson stopped by the studio in 1980 when Queen was recording The Game. And from there, the legend goes that Michael and Freddie struck up a friendship. And apparently, they collaborated on some duets that have yet to be released. Some websites are reporting that the Michael Jackson/Freddie Mercury duets album will be released in 2012.

    Michael Jackson & Freddie Mercury (circa 1980)

    Michael Jackson & Freddie Mercury (circa 1980)

  • Mick Jagger forms group
    “I hope they don’t think we’re a rock ‘n’ roll outfit.” Classic!

    Mick Jagger forms group (newspaper clipping)

    Mick Jagger forms group (newspaper clipping)

  • Nirvana casting call for Smells Like Teen Spirit video
    I’ve got a few Nirvana references in this list so far. I know a lot of people hated them. But oh well. They were a big part of my childhood, as they were my favorite band. This video was huge, and it would have been awesome to be in it.

    Nirvana video casting call flier for 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' video (1991)

    Nirvana video casting call flier for 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' video (1991)

  • Willie Nelson & Snoop Dogg smoking backstage at the Glastonbury Music Festival (June 2010)
    Okay. I probably wouldn’t use my time machine to go back to witness this. But I thought it was a cool picture. I wonder what they talked about. I’m pretty sure they don’t remember!

    Willie Nelson & Snoop Dogg smoking backstage at the Glastonbury Music Festival (June 2010)

    Willie Nelson & Snoop Dogg smoking backstage at the Glastonbury Music Festival (June 2010)

Like I said, I’m hoping to update this every month. Please comment and share!

1966 Wurlitzer Gemini Electric Guitar

One of the very cool (for gear heads) fallouts of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan was the great amount of small, oddball guitar makers trying to strike it rich in the 65-68 era. Plenty of small makers from all over the world got the idea that they would go into the guitar business. 1965 was, by far, the biggest year in guitar production up to that point. But then a strange thing happened. Even though garage bands were cropping up all over the place, guitar sales started to shrink (slowly at first). Then, by the late 60’s, you started to see cheap imports from the Asian market competing with the lower end US made guitars (Kays, Danos and Harmonys and so on), putting a serious hit on the US budget brands. And these new makers (budget and high end) who started in the wake of ’65? Most went belly-up within a few years, but left for collectors some very neat-o guitars for our collections.

1966 Wurlitzer Gemini Electric Guitar

1966 Wurlitzer Gemini Electric Guitar

Check out, for instance, this rare bird. A 1966 Wurlitzer Gemini, made at the Hollman-Woodell guitar factory in Neodesha, Kansas. Part of Wurlitzer’s THE WILD ONES series (which included the more pedestrian-looking, but still pretty rad Cougar and Wildcat models), these were made to compete with the best of the domestic market. High end tuners (Klutsons), a wonderful chunky bound neck (like a Fender V shape, but a bit thicker), and a great look highlight the Gemini.

Other cool features include stereo pickups. That’s right – the guitar is wired in stereo, so that the neck pickup is one channel and the bridge pickup the other. With a stereo cord that has a “Y” splitter, that means you can send your bridge pickup to one amp and your neck pickup to another. There’s a traditional 3 position toggle to select the pickups, or set it for both and use the blender knob on the treble side horn. It’s a trippy sound to stand in between two amps with the split signal. Put the tremolo and reverb on one of them, and it’s a great sound. You can also run both pickups, of course, into one amp with the proper cord.

Each pickup has a rocker switch labeled “Jazz” and “Rock”. Predictably, the JAZZ setting cuts the output and trebles, offering a m ore rounded mellow tone. The ROCK setting opens the tone up a bit, boosting the treble and volume. It’s a very versatile guitar, with a high end feel.

The vibrato, with its very stylish W cutaway feels like a cross between a Bigsby and a Mosrite. It has the position under the hand and sound of a Bigsby, but with a hint of the feathery lighter touch of the Mosrite. The bridge has separate plastic posts that intonate very well and allow for the vibrato to return to pitch consistently. The balance is wonderful as well. It’s an odd shaped guitar, but it’s very comfortable to play standing or sitting.

And, obviously, it’s one of the best looking guitars to come out of that king of all great-looking-guitar decades, the 1960’s (sorry all you pointy 80’s fans). If the Airline Reso-glass futuristic model most associated with Jack White earns the nickname of the Jetson model, well what is the Gemini? It out Jetsons the Jetson model itself. Maybe it’s the Spacely model. Or the Cogswell’s Cogs model.

1966 Wurlitzer Gemini Electric Guitar

1966 Wurlitzer Gemini Electric Guitar

So why didn’t they catch on, if they’re so great? Well, a lot of great companies couldn’t withstand the relative slump of the late 60’s and the birth of quality imports. Think of Danelectro, Valco and Kay all going south within a year of each other. Also, maybe they didn’t have enough capital to make enough noise outside of their Kansas factory. Maybe they just weren’t lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

But if you’re looking for any areas where the guitar itself hurt its own chances in the hyper-competitive guitar market of the late 60’s, there are a couple. Wurlitzer could have done better in the finish and the pickups. The finish on all three Wild Ones models had a habit of peeling and cracking. This white Gemini (all three models came in Red, White and Blue) is in surprisingly good shape. It does, however, have the same pickups as the other models, and this isn’t a great thing. While the pickups (the same as one the famed LeBay 2X4 – they were made at the same factory) look to be between the size of a DeArmond Silverfoil and a P-90, sadly they don’t share tone with either of those great pickups. They are clean and solid, tone-wise, but their output is very low and they can’t overdrive the dirtiest of amps. They can get a pretty good snarl going with a nice preamp or a good overdrive pedal, but they aren’t going to sound too tough going straight into most amps. Power and tone-wise, the popular guitar they sound most like (output-wise) is the Fender Mustang.

These are incredibly rare. Most estimates put the entire Wild One line at under one thousand guitars. Of those, the Cougar was the most popular, followed by the Wildcat, leaving the Gemini as the rarest of the rare.

Cool shape. Awesome retro vibe. Stylish. Super rare and hard to come by. And they could use a pickup upgrade. Maybe the more standard MONO wiring. Sounds like a guitar that might be just right for a cool company that re-issues rad guitars from the 60’s (hint, hint, Mike). If enough of you make enough noise, maybe this one could come back from the past.

1968 Danelectro Sears Silvertone Electric Guitar

Rare is, of course, a relative term when you’re talking about anything made by Danelectro for Sears. This ain’t a hand carved arch-top by one of the D’Whoever’s in New York, or a prototype KOA wood, only ever seen by Ted McCarty and the 33rd-level Masons who know the secret Skull & Bones handshake and Vulcan death grips, after all.

1968 Danelectro Sears Silvertone Electric Guitar

1968 Danelectro Sears Silvertone Electric Guitar

These were cheap, crap box guitars made at a price point to that every kid who saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan could get one for whatever holiday or birthday was next. They were product, churned out at an alarming rate. They were also, lucky for us, pretty damn cool sounding little guitars.

So, a “rare Silvertone” is a bit of an oxymoron. The best Michael Bay film. A tall jockey. The thinnest sumo wrestler. The most competent politician in Washington. The least annoying morning DJ, and so on.

But by 1968, the post-Beatle guitar boom of 64-66 had waned. The wave had crested and you started to see some of the biggest names in little guitars (Kay, Valco, Danelectro) starting to suffer and, within a year, all die quiet deaths. (Chicago enormo-manufacture Harmony would slump on into the early 70’s before limping to a public auction death knell in 1975).

1968 Danelectro Sears Silvertone Electric Guitar

1968 Danelectro Sears Silvertone Electric Guitar

In their last years, all of these companies would make some changes, hoping desperately to cling to their former market share. In Dano”s case, the biggest change when ownership switched hands to MCA in 1966 was the end of the poplar and Masonite guitars that had so defined the Neptune maker”s sound for over ten years. The last year and a half, Danelectro produced actual WOOD guitars, the top of the line being the classic 3 pickup Vinnie Bell signature model with the wonderfully psychedelic pickguard and the zippy quick neck.

The bottom of the line? The wood one-pickup Silvertone model from the Amp-in-Case line. This was still called the 1448 in the 1968 SEARS catalog, but it is a slightly different sounding little beast from its earlier and more prevalent semi-hollow 1448’s. The AC/DC (sans power transformer) amp in the case is the same (not nearly as cool at the great 1457’s single-ended 6V6-driven amp with tremolo. BUT, this guitar is arguably a better little axe than its predecessors. It’s at least as good and different enough that you should get one if you can.

It’s a killer blues and garage guitar. The skate key tuners hold surprisingly well, so long as you drop some graphite (or the lube of your choice) on the sticky, but great sounding, aluminum nut. The rosewood bridge is just like on the older models… simple, but effective. And, of course, the key to the tone is still there – the brilliant lipstick tube low-output (with plenty of volume…ohms ratings and volume are not the same) Danelectro pickup is worth all of the hype it receives. There’s just nothing quite like them, and if you want that full voiced twang and snap…well, you need an original lipstick Dano. There is truly no substitute.

1968 Danelectro Sears Silvertone Electric Guitar

1968 Danelectro Sears Silvertone Electric Guitar

And in a wooded solidbody, rather than the more common (and great, make no mistake) hollow Masonite-topped models, the pickup really shines. Crank your amp and turn up the guitar volume for some great smooth overdrive. Roll back the volume knob and the guitar cleans up, while retaining its treble response (unlike many great vintage garage guitars like Harmonys, which get muddy and murky very fast with their original volume knobs turned down at all). This is a clear, clean and articulate tone monster that responds well to every amp in the house (at least in this house of too many amps, it does).

The short scale makes for easy playing, smooth bends and surprisingly good intonation up the neck when set up well. Plus, this model, like later Danos, has a very cool, very figured fretboard for a “budget” instrument. And, of course, it comes, like its older Masonite siblings, in a wonderfully cheesy black metaflake finish.

This is one pawn shop surprise you should pick up when and if you see it. Like I said, they’re rare – or they’re “Silvertone Rare” at any rate. They show up on eBay a LOT less often than the standard, more common 1448’s, so if you see one in good playable shape, do yourself a favor and dig this last-of-the-breed from Neptune.

In Praise of Sears Silvertone Guitars

Possibly no other single event inspired the creation of more garage bands than the first Ed Sullivan show featuring the Beatles. And likewise, probably no single company furnished more of the guitars and amps for young musicians than the Sears & Roebuck Company. While most of us would rather have started out with the Gretsch, Rickenbacker, Hofner, Vox and Ludwig gear we saw the Fab Four using, due to price and availability, it was the Sears catalog that supplied our first six-string.

Sears Catalog: Silvertone Guitars from Sears

Sears Catalog: Silvertone Guitars from Sears

Sears began selling a selection of electric guitars and amps in the fifties, but it is the 1960s that the company sold most of its more popular models. Silvertone was the house name used by Sears for their instruments but these were actually made for Sears by several manufactures including Danelectro, Harmony and Kay. Of course, Sears had their low end and their high end instruments but for the most part they sold some really great guitars and amps at comparatively budget prices. A Fender Strat in 1964 cost $275 compared to the most expensive Silvertone guitar of that time at $199 including case. Putting things in perspective with inflation though, even a guitar costing $100 in the mid 60s would run you a bit over $600 today.

We were all very happy to have our first guitar but play in a band with a Silvertone wasn’t always considered “cool” and most of us got rid of our Sears gear in favor of something else has soon has we had enough money. And, most of us now really regret doing so. In the last several years Silvertones have enjoyed a boom in popularity among both collectors and performers. There are whole web communities devoted to Silvertone instruments. And, as it goes, availability for these instruments is declining while prices for them are escalating.

Sears Silvertone Guitars 1963 Catalog

Opening the pages that feature guitars and amps from a Sears 1963 Fall & Winter catalog reveal a virtual vintage wonderland. The top of the page shows the two infamous Danelectro made guitars with “Amp-In-Case” models 1448 (single pickup) and 1449 (double pickup). These Mosrite shaped guitars had the chambered bodies, lipstick pickups, stacked tone & volume controls and were constructed of masonite. The tube powered amps built into the case were 3 and 5 watts with 5 inch and 8 inch speakers respectively. The larger amp even had tremolo and both shipped with a “How To Play” 45 rpm record. These sold for $67.95 and $99.95 in 1963. Today, a single pickup model in rough but working condition can run around $300. The double pickup model if near mint can cost well over a grand.

Several other guitars are below the Danelectro models including the popular Harmony made “Jupiter” model #1423 at $79.95 and the two Harmony “Rocket” like semi hollowbody models. The double pickup model # 1446 with black finish sold for $149.95 and the Silvertone flagship model # 1454 in red sunburst sold for $189.95 including case and featured 3 DeArmond pickups with separate on/off toggles for each. Both of these models were also equipped with a genuine Bigsby vibrato. One of the 1454 models in good condition recently sold on EBAY for over $800, still a good buy!

In addition to the Danelectro U1 bass guitar model #1444 at $79.95 with case, the page opposite the guitars features the wonderful tube powered Danelectro amps. These run from the little 3 watt “Meteor” amp #1430 at $22.95 to the monster 120 watt half stack with 6 -10 inch Jensen speakers, tremolo and an unusable reverb selling for $239.95. This model #1485 is the one made popular by Jack White of the White Stripes. Also on this page is the 15 watt combo with a 12 inch speaker # 1482 at $68.95 and the bass amp #1483 with 23 watts and a 15 inch Jensen. And then there is the most popular model, the piggy-back 1484 at $149.95 with 60 watts, two channels and two 12 inch Jensens. One of these in good condition can be had today for between $450 and $700.

We all know that regardless of how much you spend on a new guitar, it is not going to sound quite like a 40 year old instrument. If you want a good vintage guitar and don’t want to take out a second mortgage to get one, Silvertones are a good choice. Collectors looking for s Silvertone in near mint condition should be ready to get deep into their pockets. However, if you are actually looking for a guitar to play and/or record with and you are not to concerned with cosmetic issues, about $200 will land you any number of nice Silvertone models. Just keep an eye on the late night auctions and frequently check out the pawn shops and garage sales. If you are a serious musician you should plan on possible replacing the tuning gears and maybe the bridge as these usually were sub-standard on even the most expensive models. If you going to gig with your vintage Silvertone, at least buy a descent case. The stock cases for Silvertone were made of chipboard. If you are one of us that owned a Silvertone and sold or gave it away just remember the words of Joni Mitchell, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got till its gone”.

Post by: Tom Bergey