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1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard 'Keithburst'

1959 Les Paul Standard 'Keithburst'
Jimmy Page recording Heart of Stone,
ca. July 1964
General Specs
Body: Bound carved maple top, mahogany body, sides and back, 1-ply creme binding
Finish: Cherry Sunburst
Neck: 3-piece mahogany neck, 1-ply creme binding
Fingerboard: Rosewood with pearl trapezoid inlays
Frets: 22
Bridge: ABR-1 Tune-o-matic Bridge, Bigsby B7 Tailpiece
Headstock: Blackface with 'Gibson' logo pearl inlay
Tuners: Kluson tuners
Hardware: Nickel
Pickguard: Removed
Pickups: Zebra PAF Humbucker (Neck), Double-Black PAF Humbucker (Bridge)
Controls: (2) Volume, (2) Tone, 3-way selector
Years in use: July 21-24, 1964
Website: http://www.gibson.com/
The guitar is an original 1959 Les Paul Standard that was purchased new in March 1961 from Farmers Music Store in Luton, United Kingdom, by John Bowen. John played with Mike Dean & the Kinsmen and he had a Bigsby Vibrato fitted at Selmer's in London before trading the guitar in there for a Gretsch Country Gentleman in late 1962. The guitar was later purchased by Keith Richards, who was playing guitar in a little known outfit called the Rolling Stones.

Keith Richards used this guitar extensively in the early days of the Rolling Stones and it was seen regularly from autumn 1964 until 1966 when Keith began to favour a Les Paul Custom. Appearances on Ready Steady Go and classic songs like The Last Time and Satisfaction have been played on this guitar. There are many great photographs of Keith and the guitar.

Keith was the first major pop star to use a 'Burst'; he was probably partly responsible for inspiring both Clapton and Page to pick up Les Pauls. Keith owned and used a Les Paul Standard way before Clapton had one, before Jeff Beck, before Peter Green, before Jimmy Page, Mike Bloomfield, Joe Walsh, Billy Gibbons, Duane Allman etc. (need we go on?) Keith sold the guitar to Mick Taylor in 1967 when Taylor had replaced Peter Green (who in turn had replaced Eric Clapton) in John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers. The Bluesbreakers' classic British Blues sound was forged when Clapton plugged a 'Burst' into a Marshall JTM45 combo and Peter Green followed suit, later selling his 'Burst' to Gary Moore. Taylor had stood in for Clapton when he failed to show for a gig one night and ended up playing Clapton's own Les Paul, so it was inevitable that the young Taylor would go for the same guitar and he exclusively played this Les Paul up to his joining The Rolling Stones two years later.

Before Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page was a red hot session musician who cut his teeth on a 3-pickup Les Paul Custom fitted with a Bigsby. It is possible that Jimmy considered buying the 'Keith Burst' from Richards or maybe just used it in the studio? We aren't entirely sure but we are sure that Jimmy used the guitar on at least one mid 60's recording session. Eric Clapton used the 'Keith Burst' in 1966 with Cream at the Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival. There are several photographs of Clapton with this very guitar at the concert. Maybe Clapton borrowed it from Keith?

Mick Taylor made his live debut with the Rolling Stones at the famous Hyde Park concert in July 1969 after the shocking premature death of Stones guitarist Brian Jones. The concert was immortalised by Granada Television, who filmed and released it as 'the Stones In The Park'. Taylor used the guitar to play No Expectations and Love In Vain; Taylor was also filmed with it backstage in the band's dressing room trailer before the show. The guitar appears next on the Rolling Stones' 1969 tour of America, when Keith and Taylor both played it; the film Gimme Shelter documents Keith using it for Honky Tonk Women.

There are also many photos of Mick Jagger with the guitar at some 1970 recording sessions, which may be the last documentation of this instrument in the hands of the Rolling Stones. Its disappearance is shrouded in mystery and controversy: Rumour has it that the guitar was stolen in 1971, either from the Marquee Club during the Stones' 'Farewell Tour' of the UK, or from Nellcote in southern France during the recording of Exile on Main Street. Dave Brewis of Rock Stars' Guitars recounts a story he heard from the next owner, Cosmo Verrico, who played guitar with the Heavy Metal Kids, who were signed to Atlantic Records alongside the Stones. The story goes that a Stones representative gave the guitar to Cosmo to replace one that was stolen. What is definite is that Cosmo did own the guitar until 1974, when he sold the guitar to Bernie Marsden of Whitesnake. Bernie owned the guitar for a little over a week. He sold it to guitar enthusiast Mike Jopp and thought he had done well when he made £50 profit.

Mike Jopp owned the guitar until 2003 when, brokered by Rock Stars' Guitars, it was sold to a private investor.

The 'Keith Burst' was next seen in late 2004 when it was offered up for auction by Christie's in New York. The guitar failed to meet reserve, possibly due to poor publicity and surrounding controversy. Rumour has it that a representative of Keith Richards laid claim to the guitar but this claim wasn't followed through, and Christie's let the guitar go to auction but the vintage guitar boom was still around the corner and original 1959 Les Pauls that are today $500,000 - $750,000 were then going for $150,000.

A private collector purchased the guitar in 2006 and it currently resides in Europe.

Photos

1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard 'Keithburst'
 
1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard 'Keithburst'
 
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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

February 7, 1962 - Deborah Bonham, sister to John, was born in Redditch, Worcestershire, England
February 23, 1966 - Warren Grant, son of Peter, was born.
February xx, 1969 - Led Zeppelin enters the Billboard Top 40
February 16, 1969 - Led Zeppelin wrap up their first American tour in Baltimore, MD.
February 07, 1970 - Edinburgh gig cancelled after Plant receives facial injuries in a car accident
February 28, 1970 - The band performs as "The Nobs" in Copenhagen after threat of legal action from Countess Von Zeppelin
February xx, 1971 - John Paul Jones involved in legal issues regarding a musician who shares the same name
February xx, 1971 - Overdubs for the fourth album are recorded at Island Studios
February 14, 1972 - The band is refused admission into Singapore due to their long hair
February 16, 1972 - The Australian tour begins in Perth
February 21, 1972 - Led Zeppelin: Rock and Roll b/w Four Sticks (Atlantic 45-2865) 45 single is released in the US.
February xx, 1973 - The band makes final preparations for the European tour
February 16, 1973 - The release date for Houses Of The Holy is pushed back due to some sleeve problems
February xx, 1974 - Sessions for Physical Graffiti continue
February 14, 1974 - Page, Plant and Bonham attend a Roy Harper concert
February 04, 1975 - Zeppelin perform a last minute show at Nassau Coliseum to accomodate fans after being banned in Boston
February 24, 1975 - Physical Graffiti finally issued worldwide to phenomenal sales
February xx, 1976 - Media reports that Zeppelin are due to release an album entitled Obelisk
February xx, 1977 - Robert contracts a bout of tonsillitis postponing the American tour
February xx, 1978 - Robert Plant helps produce a record for punk band Dansette Damage
February 16, 1978 - The cases against Bonham, Cole & Grant stemming from the Oakland incident are heard and all receive suspended prison sentences and fines
February xx, 1979 - Although absent from the US stage or market, Led Zeppelin rank best in many music magazine categories
February xx, 1979 - Mixing sessions for In Through The Out Door take place at Polar Studios. Rumors fly of a European tour
February 03, 1980 - Robert joins Dave Edmund’s Rockpile at the Birmingham Top Rank
February 13, 2005 - Led Zeppelin receives a Grammy for Lifetime Achievment.
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