A Hagstrom Viking II electric guitar, used by Elvis Presley during his legendary 1968 televised 'comeback special,' is heading to auction.
Owned by Al Casey, who was a part of Presley's backing band for the special, the semi-hollow guitar is being put up for bidding as part of Kruse GWS Auctions’ 'Artifacts of Hollywood & Music' auction, which begins on March 27. The guitar has a starting bid of $250,000.
Presley's 1968 'comeback special' marked his return to the stage after almost a decade of focusing exclusively on films. The performance was both critically acclaimed and a commercial triumph, bringing the singer back to the forefront of popular music.
Presley used the Hagstrom as part of the special's opening segment and during one of the live "stand-up" portions of the show. In a letter accompanying the guitar, Casey wrote that the special's producers asked him to let Presley use the guitar because they "thought it would look beautiful on camera and with the set."
That notarized letter from Casey, a second letter from Casey, a notarized statement from Hal Blaine (who was Presley's drummer for the performance), and a letter from the show’s music producer, Bones Howe, all affirm the guitar's authenticity, and that it's the exact one from the special.
Presley can also be seen with the guitar – which was featured in an exhibition at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – on the cover of his 1969 album, From Elvis in Memphis.
In addition to the letters of authenticity, the Hagstrom comes with loan paperwork from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and a number of photographs of Presley taken during the filming of the performance.
For more info on the guitar, stop by gwsauctions.com.
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Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.