A few weeks ago, a 1958 Gibson Les Paul with quite the backstory went up for auction.
The electric guitar in question had once been purchased by none other than George Harrison, as a ransom payment of sorts for the safe return of another Les Paul, the Beatle's beloved '57 "Lucy" model.
After playing a significant role on the Beatles' White Album, Let It Be, and Abbey Road, Lucy – which, before Harrison, had been in the possession of the Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian, Rick Derringer, and Eric Clapton – was stolen from Harrison's Beverly Hills home during a 1973 burglary and sold to Whalin's Sound City music store on Sunset Blvd.
From there, Whalin's sold the legendary guitar to a Mexican musician named Miguel Ochoa. Harrison quickly tracked down the guitar, though, and managed to – before the visiting Ochoa left Los Angeles – call the friend with whom the musician was staying.
Harrison offered to make things even with Ochoa, and reimburse him for Lucy's full sticker price, an offer Ochoa – who quickly realized that his new guitar was no ordinary Les Paul – declined.
Once back in Mexico – with Lucy still in his possession – Ochoa asked that Harrison buy him a 1958 Les Paul Standard – which the Beatle subsequently bought from Norman Harris (of Norman's Rare Guitars) – and a Fender Precision bass. After receiving these two instruments, Ochoa finally sent Lucy back to Harrison.
Ochoa kept the "ransom" Les Paul until 1983, when he sold it to Nadine's Music owner Robert Truman.
The "ransom" Les Paul's electronics are original, but its pickup covers were at some point removed and subsequently re-installed, with non-stock Kluson tuners also installed on the guitar at one juncture. The guitar's frets, likewise, are original and have "moderate" wear.
Overall, the Les Paul – serial #8 5424 – is in "very good" condition, and was sold with its original hard case.
For more info on the guitar, visit ha.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.
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