Some guitars are highly prized for their vintage; others are desirable for their associations with major artists; very few are both. Now Gibson Custom brings together George Harrison and Eric Clapton, two of the greatest rock legends of all time, with one stunning instrument—the Harrison-Clapton 1957 Les Paul Standard “Lucy.” This historic Les Paul is a strictly limited edition of just 100 guitars worldwide and is offered exclusively by Guitar Center in North America.
Thanks to the painstaking research undertaken by guitar writer Andy Babiuk (author of the book Beatles Gear), the Harrison-Clapton 1957 Les Paul Standard “Lucy” arrives at a time when the full history of this well-traveled guitar is finally known.
The music world knows this guitar best as the red Les Paul that George Harrison used on so many Beatles recordings in the final years of the band’s career, but the guitar—originally a 1957 Goldtop with Bigsby vibrato, with the serial number 7–8789—passed through the hands of three other major stars before landing with Harrison in 1968. Babiuk traced the first notable ownership of “Lucy” to the Lovin’ Spoonful’s guitarist John Sebastian. It went to guitar-legend Rick Derringer around 1966, and it was Derringer who had it refinished to an SG-style cherry red, and the Bigsby removed, at the Gibson factory in Kalamazoo some time shortly after. The only trouble was, the guitar just didn’t feel the same to Derringer after the work, so he swapped it for a sunburst Les Paul at Dan Armstrong’s guitar shop in Manhattan, NY… where Eric Clapton purchased it shortly after.
According to Mal Evans in The Beatles Monthly, Clapton gave the Les Paul to his good friend George Harrison in early August of 1968, but it first made Beatles history back in Clapton’s hands again on September 6 of that year, when Harrison invited the Cream star to record the now-legendary solo to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” for which he used his recent gift to the Beatle. After a further hiccup in the ownership of Lucy—involving the theft of the guitar in a burglary of his Beverly Hills home and its convoluted recovery from an owner in Mexico—this refinished 1957 Les Paul stayed with Harrison throughout his career, appearing on several solo recordings and performances.
The Harrison-Clapton 1957 Les Paul Standard “Lucy” has been painstakingly recreated by Gibson Custom through intimate examination of the original, thanks to the generous cooperation of the George Harrison estate. Notable details include a plain-maple top with off-center seam (a feature of many ’50s Goldtops) now visible through its transparent Cherry Red finish; a one-piece lightweight mahogany body; a nylon nut; and two Custom Buckers with lesser-seen Alnico III magnets, wound to closely match the specs and tone of Lucy’s original 1957 PAF pickups. The playing feel of this legendary Les Paul is further retained in Lucy’s neck profile, a full, rounded ’50s shape that measures 0.907″ at the 1st fret and 0.980″ at the 12th, which has been taking from precise measurement of the original. Telltale modifications that Lucy received over the years—a set of nickel Grover™ kidney button tuners and a replacement ’70s truss-rod cover engraved “Custom”—complete this stunningly accurate recreation.
In addition to the several details specific to the recration of this special guitar, the Harrison-Clapton 1957 Les Paul Standard “Lucy” also benefits from Gibson Custom’s 20th Anniversary Specifications, newly adopted for 2013. These include a one-piece rosewood fingerboard, hot-hide neck glue, a Historic Truss Rod assembly with no tubing, and accurate body and fingerboard binding color. The entire guitar is hand-aged by Gibson Custom to match Harrison’s original Les Paul as closely as is humanly possible, and available in a strictly limited run of 100 guitars.