I can recall years back, when visiting my late friend, John Entwistle, the bassist of the Who, we got into talking about guitar collecting. He had been a longtime well-known collector of fine vintage instruments, and even though we were not at his home with the endless collection, there were still a lot of guitars and basses around.
I recall being struck by how he loved to tell the stories of how cheaply he had found some, and the crazy circumstances under which their purchases occurred. I realized that here I was talking to a bona fide “rock star”, who I’m sure had tons of money, yet he was still thinking of how inexpensive certain finds were. This also told me that he was a TRUE collector…..one who realizes the hunt is as gratifying as the prize, and that the stories behind them are as priceless, if not more, than the piece itself!
I can recall the one time an elderly gentleman, nearly 100 years old, GAVE me two turn of the century guitars that I thought I was only just going to see! His nephew, a friend and fellow band member of mine said that I should go to his uncle’s house, and check out these 2 ancient guitars that I would definitely be interested in. One was from 1888, and the other from 1908. Well, this was around 1975, and he being 100 years old, he even told me he was the ORIGINAL owner!!! Imagine that…how many folks can ever say that they got two guitars which were at that point nearly 90 and 60 years old respectively, from the original owner!!
His wife was even there, looking like Katherine Hepburn, in a black straw hat, painting the bookcases, saying “my, aren’t those guitars happy, they have finally found a home”, as I sat and gave them a performance that I still had no idea was on the guitars I’d soon be owning!
He turned to me and said “young man, those guitars are now yours….you’re the first person to play them in 65 years!! I walked out with both cases under my arms, trembling as I took the subway back from Brooklyn Heights to my loft in lower Manhattan, just beneath the World Trade towers!
Turns out, he was a longtime, famous psychiatrist, and all he wanted me to do as a condition, was to play the next weekend for his patients up in Connecticut at a private party he was having….strange gig, indeed, but certainly well worth it!!!