The scene is a Jaguar dealer, and the event is an exclusive cocktail party on the border of Beverly Hills, where people can mingle amongst some very impressive creations. We’re not talking about the amazing sports cars that are everywhere, though, but the many towering Les Paul sculptures that scrape the ceiling.
The celebration marks the unveiling of the latest roster eye-catching of ten-foot-tall axes that will constitute the fourth installment of Gibson GuitarTown—an 18-guitar street-art salute to the many great musicians who helped make the Sunset Strip the most rockin’ boulevard in the history of music.
The next time you find yourself on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, keep your eyes peeled for the big, colorful guitars. Tall, vividly painted, and each utterly unique, they’ll be hard to miss. Some will be inside various retail stores, clubs, and restaurants, but most will be right out on the street, installed right by the sidewalk.
You can also attend this year’s Sunset Strip Music Festival on September 20 and 21 (which features dozens of acts, including headliners Jane’s Addiction and Empire of the Sun) where you’re sure to see a few.
For a sneak peek at some of the guitar sculptures, check out the slide show at the bottom of this article.
If you are a guitar player, though, you’ll surely be most enraptured by Gail Zappa’s contribution to GuitarTown. And if it were a contest, GP would vote Zappa’s entry "Best In Show."
The piece is her engaging tribute to her late, great husband, which she calls “Frank Zappa Audio Tombstone.” Where the other Les Paul sculptures leave off at paint, Zappa’s piece adds texture, accouterments, and sound (internal speakers continuously play the album Frank Zappa Plays the Music of Frank Zappa).
The first thing you notice about Zappa’s guitar is that it has six actual “strings,” where most of the others remain essentially Les Paul cutouts—beautiful cutouts, to be sure, but cutouts nonetheless. Walk up to it, and you notice Zappa’s guitar is also adorned with several cool symbolic items, including a pickguard made up of 100 or more Fender Mediums (Frank’s favorite pick), a partial score of Frank’s famously challenging piece “The Black Page,” a mustache and soul patch à la Frank on the headstock, 24 coins acting as humbucker pickup magnets, an eighth-note paperweight straight off the desk of Frank Zappa, and much, much more.
Look for a complete interview with Gail Zappa —in which she discusses “Frank Zappa Audio Tombstone" in detail—in the December 2014 issue of Guitar Player.