Baby Taylor Delivered in Old Havana

September 1, 2009

Seventy-eight-year-old guitarist Orlando Pirez was a mainstay of the Cuban music scene for decades beginning in the late ’60s. In response to economic hardship, Pirez not only built and repaired his own instruments— he constructed a string-winding machine (pictured) and made his own strings. Recently, however, Pirez received a Baby Taylor guitar from William G. Hamby, who was in Havana researching Cuban music. The Taylor belonged to Hamby’s son Patrick, who was killed in an automobile accident. “I presented the guitar at Orlando’s kitchen table on April 21, the seventh anniversary of my son’s death,” relates Hamby. “I watched him unpack, caress, and play the little ax, and afterward he said, ‘This guitar will have a good home here.’ It was quite a moment for both of us.”

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