Paul Kossoff’s 1950s Gibson Les Paul Custom (Clapton)

Very little is known about the origin of this guitar, but as far as trying to put things into chronological order – Paul acquired it around the time when Free was about to be formed.

Traded with Eric Clapton?

From then on the story goes that Paul traded this Custom with Eric Clapton around July or August 1969 for a dark-burst 1958 Les Paul Standard. The problem with this story is that no one knows for sure which Custom Eric ended up with.

Eric had a three-pickup Custom that he often played on stage with Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, with whom he toured in late 1969. Apparently, in 1979 he gave that guitar to Albert Lee. However, Albert Lee, even though he talked in a few interviews about this guitar, never mentioned that it was the one that originated from Paul Kossoff.

Eric playing a three-pickup Les Paul Custom with Delaney and Bonnie.

An additional problem with this theory is that Paul himself was never seen playing a three-pickup Les Paul Custom. The only Custom that he was seen with was the 1955 two-pickup model.

So, the guitar that he traded with Eric must’ve been that same 1955 Custom, right?

Well, the problem with that version of the story is that Paul traded that guitar way before 1969, which is when he met Eric. The story of that Custom is also very unclear because it apparently ended up with a guy called Howard Parker. Parker was a well-known figure at the time, and he used to hang around and travel with bands such as The Who and the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Parker also claimed, in an auction that appeared on eBay before it was promptly deleted for some reason, that he got the guitar from Cream’s management company in 1967. This, of course, doesn’t make sense, because in 1969 Eric was done with Cream, and had already formed Blind Faith, Paul met him at that point.

So, even though this is a pretty iconic and important guitar in rock history, no one seems to know anything about it. All the stories regarding it seem to collapse under closer inspection, and neither Eric nor Paul ever stated anything regarding the guitar specs, or what happened to the guitar after the trade.


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