(Heartland Newsfeed) — The stunning guitar is “its own Rock N’ Roll museum,” boasts the Heritage Auctions website. The rare acoustic guitar is handcrafted in the same design as Buddy Holly’s Gibson J-45, which he used to compose many of his best-known songs. But that’s not the only reason that makes this sunburst guitar so special.
Scrawled in silver paint on the body of the “Buddy Holly Limited Edition” acoustic guitar are dozens of signatures from some of music’s best-known icons, such as Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, and Dolly Parton. The guitar showcases over 70 such signatures, which reads like a “whos-who of many of the biggest names in the history of Rock N’ Roll,” noted the auctioneer.
The many signatures on the guitar belong to Holly’s famous fans and contemporaries. Other signatures come from Don McLean, British rocker Cliff Richard, Dion, Kimmie Rhodes, Dave Steward of Eurythmics, James Burton, Brian Wilson, and Allan Clarke, the guitarist of the rock band Hollies, named in Holly’s honor.
The most prominent signature is on the headstock of the guitar, which is an endorsement from Maria Elena Holly, the widow of the “That’ll Be the Day” singer.
The most “noteworthy” autographs, the auctioneer says, came from musicians who collaborated with Holly himself to write a number of his hits. One signature in the sea of autographs comes from Jerry Allison, who co-wrote “Oh, Boy!” and “Rave On” with the icon. The signatures of Sonny Curtis, the songwriter and guitarist who collaborated on many of Holly’s early hits, and Sonny West of The Crickets are also on the guitar.
The starting bid for the guitar is $50,000. The auctioneer expects the price to go up to $250,000 in the least.
The guitar was custom-designed by UK-based luthier Alister Atkin and Canterbury Atkin Guitars. It was heavily inspired by the instrument on which Holly composed his beloved classic, “Learning the Game.” The same classic guitar is now with the Buddy Holly Educational Foundation, which offers annual music lessons in the U.S. and U.K.
Holly famously used a Fender Stratocaster on stage. A less well-known fact is that he used a J-45 as his main offstage guitar, particularly for composing songs. He prominently used his J-45 in the early 1940s.
This isn’t the first foray into Buddy Holly-inspired memorabilia guitars for Atkin Guitars. The luthier earlier made the news for designing a dreadnaught inspired by Holly’s J-45 with replications of intricate vintage wear.
The Buddy Holly Limited Edition has a tiger-striped pickguard and a tooled leather cover. The guitar cover was made by Judy Edwards, the spouse of legendary guitarist Nokie Edwards. The guitar comes in a hard black case with plush red lining.
All proceeds from the sale of the guitar will go to Teen Cancer America and UCLA Health. Teen Cancer America is a nonprofit launched by Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey of The Who. The organization provides hospital grants and helps build facilities for teenagers with cancer.
Natalie Landecker is a guitarist, songwriter and music teacher. She runs her own blog The Guitar Pal covering all things guitar-related.