Some of the biggest names in rock and roll, including Sir Paul McCartney, Robert Plant, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Steve Winwood, Mark Knopfler, Pete Townshend, Albert Lee, David Gilmour, Joe Brown, Richard Thomson, and Dave Pegg, have signed a guitar to be auctioned in Great Britain in honor of stroke victim Jerry Donahue.
Donahue, an American guitarist, suffered a catastrophic stroke in 2016, almost certainly ending his career as one of the world’s finest folk-rock guitarists. The former Fairport Convention, Fotheringay, and Hellecasters guitarist was regarded by the music media as an extremely talented musician with an extraordinary technical approach to string bending.
Always in demand as a session player and always with the love of his life, the Telecaster guitar, Donahue performed and recorded with dozens of major artists. The late great Danny Gatton once referred to Donahue as “The string bending king of the planet.”
“To have so many famous signatures on this guitar is a fantastic achievement,” says close friend Dave Pegg, bassist in Fairport Convention. “We know that the guitar will raise many thousands of pounds and all the money raised from the auction will go towards Jerry’s rehabilitation in the USA.”
The guitar itself, donated by John Hornby Skewes Ltd., is Donahue’s own Vintage Signature V58, built to his own specifications as a collaboration with specialist guitar and hardware designer Trevor Wilkinson and JHS Managing Director Dennis Drumm.
Features include a maple fingerboard and neck and an American alder body finished in Ash Blonde.
Pegg continues, “It all started when I had a call from guitarist Matt Worley, another close friend of Jerry’s, he’d acquired Jerry’s Signature guitar with the idea to have a few big names sign it so we could raise some money for him.”
“At first we just asked a handful of people,” Worley says. “And with help from Tony Kelsey who co-opted the likes of Steve Winwood, Robert Plant, Andy Fairweather Low and Dave Pegg himself, word got out, the gates opened and we were swamped with some of the biggest names in the music business eager to autograph the guitar and pay their respects to Jerry. Even Sir Paul McCartney and they’re still coming in, Tony Iommi, Jeff Lynn, Martin Barre, John Paul Jones and we’ve just squeezed in Brian Wilson and Al Jardine from The Beach Boys. The guitar is more or less full now, so we are moving on to the guitar case.”
There are some very rare signings as well, some who never sign anything. This is the first collective signing of all three guitarists who were in The Yardbirds, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck. The three remaining members of Led Zeppelin are on there and of course, diehard fans will remember Eric Clapton played with Steve Winwood in Blind Faith, the first of the ‘supergroups in ‘69’.
There are not many collectables in the world that are as cool as guitars, and the auction, to be held at Gardiner Houlgate’s Bath Auction rooms located at 9 Leafield Way, Corsham SN13 9SW, United Kingdom, on December 11, is expected to attract attention from collectors and music fans from all over the world.