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‘Guitars’ reveals battle-ax beauty ‘You can revel in the glitz-and-grit world’

NEW YORK, Dec 1, (AP): Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand songs. The supersized book “108 Rock Star Guitars” (Glitterati Inc.) demonstrates that six-stringed instruments owned by celebrities and virtuoso sidemen can look as good as they rock. The 17-year undertaking by photographer Lisa S. Johnson partly benefits the Les Paul Foundation. Paul, the Rock Hall musician-inventor, wrote the foreword before he died.
Not a guitar geek? Don’t fret. Whether you define “pickup” as a truck, a dating technique or a guitar part, you can revel in the glitz-and-grit world where these prized possessions reside. The instruments (one’s named Baby) evoke tender talk from macho musicians. But some of these battle-ax beauties have seen more action than a roller derby queen: They bear the gashes and sweat stains to prove it. The author, who grew up in a musical family, underscores musicians’ emotional attachment to their instruments.

“I don’t believe any serious musician feels that his instrument is an inanimate object,” Tom Scholz of the group Boston tells Johnson. Steve Vai, who went solo after playing with Frank Zappa’s band, once described his guitar as “the voice of my heart” in moments of depression, euphoria and “divine love. ... I have cried, screamed, prayed and bled through that instrument.” The book lauds the instrument-makers, called luthiers, and the techs, along with the guitars. Pawnshop wallflowers blossom into unbridled stardom. There are kaleidoscopic, patriotic and wildcat patterns; gorgeous maple and mahogany; delicate carvings of leaves and acorns; a stuck-on Chinese cookie fortune; python skin; fake fur; little-girl superheroes.

Some seem to revel in musical masochism:
* Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne Band) — blowtorch burns, hammered-on bottle caps.
* Slash (Velvet Revolver, Guns N’ Roses) — cigarette carelessness. As the story goes, the guitarist was “one with the music” while accidentally inflicting a “charred reminder of rock ‘n’ roll nirvana.”
John Rzeznik (Goo Goo Dolls) resurrected a broken Stratocaster into a 4-string. The word “OUCH!” is splayed over its torso; it’s now named Halfcaster.
“I was amazed when I threw the guitar in the air and the top portion split right off,” Rzeznik recalled via email. “I had my guitar tech take it to a luthier in LA who sanded off the rough edges and fixed the electronics.
“I used it on a song called ‘Big Machine’ for a couple years after that. Surprisingly, the tone didn’t really change; it was a cheap guitar that didn’t sound that great to begin with. Haha!”

The appreciation of instruments as visual art is an age-old concept.
They “may evoke status, identity, or indicate events — sacred or profane,” comments J. Kenneth Moore, the Frederick P. Rose curator in charge of the Department of Musical Instruments at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. “They become sounding, tangible works of art — telling many stories of the life and times of those who used them,” he said.
A guitar owned by James J.Y. Young of Styx bears an elaborate carving of Cerberus, ancient mythology’s three-headed Underworld guard dog.
A double-neck owned by Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen has a quirky folk art feel. Its two-pronged top forms the legs of Nielsen’s upside-down caricature. The figure, named Uncle Dick, displays a thumbs-up, but his expression looks maniacal.

When Mom made young Nils Lofgren a Nehru jacket and bell-bottom pants out of drapes, he proudly stuck leftover fabric on his guitar so it matched his new suit.
The book also features a famous, battered Fender Esquire owned by Lofgren’s boss, Bruce Springsteen.
Before a Rage Against the Machine performance, Tom Morello scrawled “Arm the Homeless” on his guitar.
The jarring jargon co-exists with Morello’s drawings of happy hippos. Like most art, it invites interpretation. In Johnson’s view, he’s contrasting the have-nots and the haves (rotund creatures “gobbling their food”).
Willie Nelson’s Trigger, named for movie-cowboy Roy Rogers’ horse, bears dozens of autographs, including Leon Russell, Roger Miller, Kris Kristofferson, Gene Autry, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash. Trigger’s top is worn clear through; Nelson chooses to leave it that way.
“The two of them,” notes the book, “continue to mature together.”
Life partners in perfect harmony.

The sunburst Fender Stratocaster reputed to be the one Bob Dylan used to go electric at the Newport Folk Festival can be yours — if you have about half a million dollars.
Dylan drew derision but changed American music forever when he switched from acoustic folk to plugged-in rock ‘n’ roll at the 1965 festival. The guitar purported to be the one he played is expected to fetch up to $500,000 at a Dec. 6 auction.
Christie’s, the auction house, is also offering handwritten and typed lyric fragments found inside the guitar’s case. The early versions of some of Dylan’s songs have a pre-sale estimate ranging from $3,000 to $30,000.
The guitar has been in the possession of a New Jersey family for nearly 50 years. The owner, Vic Quinto, was a pilot who worked for Dylan’s manager and said Dylan left the guitar on his plane sometime after the festival. Quinto died in 1977.

“According to his family, Mr. Quinto contacted Dylan’s representatives upon finding the guitar case in an attempt to return it, but received no response,” Christie’s said.
Last year, PBS’s “History Detectives” called in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame consultant Andy Babiuk and Dylan memorabilia expert Jeff Gold to authenticate the guitar. Both were certain it was the one.
But Dylan’s lawyer, Orin Snyder, said before the episode aired that the singer still had the guitar.
“He did own several other Stratocaster guitars that were stolen from him around that time, as were some handwritten lyrics,” Snyder told The Associated Press at the time. “In addition, Bob recalls driving to the Newport Folk Festival, along with two of his friends, not flying.”

Snyder did not immediately return a call for comment from TheWrap on Tuesday.
Dylan and Quinto’s daughter, Dawn Peterson, recently settled a legal dispute over the guitar and lyrics. The terms were not disclosed, but allow Peterson to sell them, according to Rolling Stone.
“One term of the agreement that I obviously can disclose is that Mr. Dylan will participate in the sale to the extent that he will be signing off on any ownership interest after the sale,” Peterson’s attorney, Christopher DeFalco, told the magazine. “The person who buys it will receive a bill of sale that will be signed both by the Petersons and Mr. Dylan or his representatives.”

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