date_range 1968

Eric Clapton’s 1957 Gibson Les Paul “Lucy”

Clapton purchased this guitar at Dan Amstrong’s Guitar shop in New York at an unknown date. The previous owner, Rick Derringer, had sold the guitar to the shop sometime in 1966 or 1967 (no credible source mentions any dates related to this), after he had it repainted in Gibson’s Kalamazoo factory (no dates mentioned either) [Million Dollar Les Paul, Tony Bacon, pp. 66–68.]

Lucy with Eric

Eric himself seems to remember (in the interview shown below) that he was with Cream at the time, which was most likely true, and that he gave the guitar to George Harrison shortly after returning home to London. Andy Babiuk in his book “Beatles Gear” mentions that George received the guitar in August of 1968, which means that Eric likely purchased it sometime between March, April or June of 1968 – based on the concert dates and cities visited during the US tour [1968 Eric Clapton Tour and Set List Archive – WhereIsEric.com]

Note that Eric lists “already having a Les Paul” as one of the reasons behind giving this one to George. He is most likely referring to the 1958 Gibson Les Paul Standard Darkburst which he was seen using on the Cream farewell tour and in the early days of Blind Faith. He did own a Les Paul Custom and another Les Paul burst (the Summers burst) at the time, but the Summers burst seems to have become damaged by that time, and the Custom was something he did not use that often.

Lucy with George

As said, George received the guitar in August 1968. At that time Eric was still with Cream, but that month (and the September for that matter) was pretty uneventful in comparison to the previous ones and the ones that followed. This allowed Eric to take a step back and spend some time in his apartment hanging around friends, one of which was George Harrison.

One day, early in September, George drove me over to Abbey Road Studios, where he was recording. When we arrived, he told me they were going to record one of his songs and asked me to play guitar on it. I hadn’t even brought my guitar with me, so I had to borrow his. […]I was a little nervous because John and Paul were pretty fast on their feet, and I was an outsider, but it went well. We did just one take, and I thought it sounded fantastic. [Clapton: The Autobiography]

The guitar that George handed him that day was, of course, the same one Eric gave him a couple of months back, and the song in question was “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.

The rest of this guitar’s history is really related to Eric Clapton, but in case you’re curious there’s a pretty good summary over at Wikipedia – Lucy (guitar).

Lucy at the Rainbow Concert

Clapton borrowed this guitar from Gorge in 1973 and used it at his comeback Rainbow Concert on January 13th. The concert was released as a live album in September that year [Eric Clapton’s Rainbow Concert]

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