Fans of Duane Allman in Macon, Georgia, say they didn’t expect the late musician’s old guitar to sell at that price.
The gold-topped guitar is the one Allman played in the hit song “Layla,” where he performed with Eric Clapton.
Until recently, the guitar affectionately called “Layla” had been on display at the Allman Brothers Band museum at The Big House in Macon.
Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists list
Allman, Number Nine on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists list, also played the 1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop – which had been on display at the Allman Brothers’ Big House museum in Macon, Georgia – on the Allman Brothers’ 1969 self-titled debut LP and 1970’s Idlewild South, the Macon Telegraph reports.
“Layla” was actually one of the final recordings that featured Allman playing that guitar: Soon after, the guitarist swapped it for a 1959 Les Paul.
“Duane, fresh off recording ‘Layla’ was, as usual, playing his ’57 Goldtop,” auction house Gotta Have Rock and Roll said.
The opening band was a local group called the Stone Balloon, whose guitarist, Rick Stine, was playing a 1959 cherry sunburst Les Paul, which Duane was fond of. While making ‘Layla’ he had fallen in love with Clapton’s cherry sunburst.
Wanting one of his own, Duane offered to swap Les Pauls with Rick. When Rick hesitated, Allman upped the stakes, throwing in $200 and one of his regular Marshall 50 heads. Rick agreed and the deal was finalized.”
Following Allman’s death in October 1971, the now-former owner purchased the guitar in rough condition in 1977 and repaired and restored it over the ensuing decades.
According to the auction house, musicians that visited Georgia often tested out the guitar, including Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons; the Rolling Stones’ plan to borrow the guitar for a July 27th Georgia gig was nixed due to the auction, Gotta Have Rock and Roll said.
The anonymous, out-of-town buyer has pledged to keep it in the Big House collection for a few months a year.
“It will be coming back to the Big House in late November,”
Big House museum director Richard Brent told the Macon Telegraph.
“We couldn’t ask for more than that.”
Duane Allman a lasting impression
Few guitarists made as lasting an impression in such short order as Duane Allman.
Beyond his work with the his namesake group and principal architects of Southern rock, the Allman Brothers Band, Duane was an in-demand session musician.
A fixture at Muscle Shoals, Duane’s playing can be heard on records by Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett, among others, and he famously traded licks with Eric Clapton on Derek and the Dominos’ 1970 release “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.”