Keith Richards’ 1960s Gibson Firebird VII (Reverse)

Keith appeared with this guitar on November 11, 1965, when the band played on a US TV show called Hullabaloo. Aside from this, it seems that he rarely ever used the guitar, and was seen only occasionally with it.

Rolling Stones, 1965, Hullabaloo
November 11, 1965, Hullabaloo

It is also important to note that on the Hullabaloo show Brian also played a Gibson Firebird, so there’s a chance that the second Firebird that Keith used was actually Brian’s backup guitar. This is however just a guess, and there’s an equal chance that both Brian and Keith had the same guitars.

Gift from Gibson, the “Satisfaction” guitar?

There’s a rumor that Gibson apparently gave Brian and Keith each a Firebird sometime in 1965, and together with them a pair of Gibson Titan V amplifiers and Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone pedals. This would of course explain why both of them played the same instruments, but before we find a valid source on this, take it with a grain of salt (if you happen to know where this story originates from, leave it in the comments).

Keith would of course end up using the FZ-1 to record (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, and according to some, which also seems to include the folks that moderate his social profiles, he even played the Firebird for that exact song.

Official Keith Richards Instagram page.

Some other popular theories are that he used the Epiphone or the 1959 Les Paul which he was photographed playing at RCA Studios on the same date when the song was recorded. However, it seems that the Firebird theory is confirmed by folks who were present at the studio.

I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction) – Story

As a bit of a side note and not entirely related to this guitar, but still interesting, is the story of how I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction) came to be. According to Keith, it all started with a dream and a Philips cassette player. The song was recorded just a couple of days after the following took place, and Keith played his guitar through a Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone and a Fender Showman. [Keith Richards, Life]

I wrote “Satisfaction” in my sleep. I had no idea I’d written it, it’s only thank God for the little Philips cassette player. The miracle being that I looked at the cassette player that morning and I knew I’d put a brand-new tape in the previous night, and I saw it was at the end. Then I pushed rewind and there was “Satisfaction.” It was just a rough idea. There was just the bare bones of the song, and it didn’t have that noise, of course, because I was on acoustic. And forty minutes of me snoring. But the bare bones is all you need. I had that cassette for a while and I wish I’d kept it.

Keith Richards; James Fox, Life (Kindle Locations 2579-2583)

The Guitar Now

According to Andy Babiuk, who wrote the book Rolling Stones Gear, the Firebird that Keith was sometimes seen with ended up with Dave Hassinger, an engineer who worked at RCA studios when the band recorded (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, and one of the people confirming that the Firebird was used that day. It was then stolen, and every trace of it got lost.


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1 year ago

I remember reading something from Keith himself that the Firebirds were a gift from Gibson. During either the first or second US tour a Gibson A&R guy showed up at their hotel and gave them the guitars, amps and pedals.
I’ll have to doublecheck but I’m pretty sure that quote is offered as a casual aside in the Richards’ autobiography ‘Life’.

11 months ago
Reply to  John

Ich habe nach einem Video-Beweis gesucht, nachdem ich diesen Artikel gelesen habe. Ich habe einen Konzertmitschnitt gefunden, in dem Brian und Keith eine Firebird gespielt haben.

11 months ago
Reply to  Alb

Ein Foto zu sehen auf Keith’s Instagram.

( Suche: Brian und Keith Firebird )