CORONA, Calif., November 01, 2006 — One of the world’s most influential electric guitars, the Fender Stratocaster® guitar once owned by Eric Clapton and affectionately known as BLACKIE®, will be recreated and made available to the public this November from Fender’s renowned Custom Shop. Guitar Center, Inc. (NASDAQ: GTRC), the world’s largest musical instrument retailer, is now the owner of the original guitar after paying $959,500 at a 2004 Christie’s auction that benefited the Crossroads Centre, Antigua—a charity founded by Clapton and which remains close to his heart. Guitar Center has commissioned the Fender Custom Shop to reproduce this truly iconic piece of rock “n” roll history, and it is the exclusive United States distributor of the instrument.
Eric Clapton playing Fender’s new BLACKIE® replica. (Photo: Luca Zagami/(C)2006 FMIC)
BLACKIE®, a mid-1950s Fender Stratocaster guitar pieced together by Clapton himself from numerous individual guitars, was Clapton’s main instrument throughout the 1970s and “80s. Clapton’s albums 461 Ocean Boulevard, Slowhand, No Reason To Cry, and Just One Night, among others, were all recorded with BLACKIE®. And in addition to memorable solo tours, Clapton and BLACKIE® shared the stage with the likes of Pete Townshend, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters and The Band.
This historic addition to the Custom Shop Tribute Series will replicate BLACKIE® down to the smallest of details—from the worn-to-the-wood body, to the neck re-shaped by Eric’s hand as he played a thousand heartfelt solos, to the unmistakable cigarette burns on the headstock.
“Everyone in the Guitar Center organization wants to share the world’s most iconic guitar with collectors and fans,” said Guitar Center’s Keith Brawley, Vice President of Merchandising, Guitars and Amplifiers. “By working with Eric Clapton and Fender, we are able to offer some of our best customers the thrill we felt when we spent nearly a million dollars!”
Said Mike Eldred, Director of Sales and Marketing for Fender’s Custom Shop, “This is a dream come true, to work so closely with this magical piece of rock history. To hold BLACKIE® and to think about all it has been through and how much fantastic music has come out of it, it’s really an indescribable feeling. The Tribute Series BLACKIE® guitar is instantly collectible and we’re thrilled that it’s now available to Eric’s fans.”
All of the 185 guitars offered for sale in the United States will be available exclusively through Guitar Center. Guitar Center stores throughout America will introduce the guitar on “Black Friday”—November 24, 2006. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $24,000, with a portion of the proceeds to go to the Crossroads Centre, Antigua. For more information about this guitar, visit www.fender.com/blackie, or www.guitarcenter.com/clapton. For more information about the Crossroads Centre, Antigua, please visit crossroadsantigua.org.