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Saturday, April 07, 2012

The Stealing Of Stephen Stills' Les Paul

Buffalo Springfield

Here's an interesting Buffalo Springfield story involving the theft of Stephen Stills' Les Paul guitar.

It's from the now defunct The Official Website of Ed King. Edward C. King is best known as the guitarist for psychedelic rock band Strawberry Alarm Clock and Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. The story involves a 1968 tour with the Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield and Strawberry Alarm Clock.

This happened on the 1968 Beach Boys tour of the South. It was also the final tour for the Buffalo Springfield. They pretty much argued amongst themselves the entire trip. At one point, in Dallas, one member of the band (who I'd better not identify!) was outside of Neil Young's hotel room banging on his door and screaming "Young, I'm gonna break every finger on both your hands!!" (Young had announced he was quitting the band.)

Watching them play every night was like watching history...we knew that.

They'd close their show with "BlueBird" and, at the end of the song, Steve Stills would grab the handle of his Bigsby on his old Les Paul Custom, bend that handle all the way back - and the strings would pop one by one. "bing ... POING !" I asked him why he did that and he replied "It makes the neatest noise."

After one show some guys on the road crew were putting some guitars in the luggage bay below the band bus. A few of us from the 3 bands (I think I can recall Neil Young & Alan Jardine) were standing out in back of the coliseum when this older station wagon pulled into the parking lot. One of the guys in the car jumped out, ran over to the bus and grabbed Stills' Les Paul from the luggage bay, ran back to the car, threw the guitar in and they started to drive off. Good thing it was still in the parking lot....they couldn't go that fast.

We saw this and started running toward the station wagon. Like I said, I can't recall who did what but someone broke the back window out (someone else jumped in and stopped the driver) and Young was able to retrieve the vintage guitar. The rest of us pulled the occupants out and stomped on them for a while! But the important thing was that we were able to get Stills' guitar back! (I know THAT feeling.)

Later on that tour Stills gave Lee Freeman and myself a personal tour of New Orleans. He was a huge influence on my music at the time. But I am still kind of miffed at the time he came into our dressing room in Memphis....I had just bought a 1965 Gibson SG Standard in town (couldn't even find these guitars in L.A.). He was eating from this greasy, buttery tub of popcorn, grabbed my guitar from out of my hands and started playing it.


More on Stephen Stills and Neil Young.


At 4/07/2012 07:47:00 AM, Blogger Grandmaster T said...

um, so the guitar wasn't actually stolen.

At 4/07/2012 11:31:00 AM, Blogger punkdavid said...

This isn't the Les Paul that came to be "Old Black", is it? I know the old story was that Neil got Black from Stills, but I can't recall if that story has been debunked or not.

At 4/07/2012 12:10:00 PM, Blogger Greg Mantho said...

I thought Neil got "Old Black" from Jim Messina in a trade. Messina couldn't get it to stay tuned, or control it the way he wanted to.

A Friend Of Yours

At 4/07/2012 12:13:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Joni's beloved '56 Martin D-28 was actually stolen from an airport somewhere in Hawaii. I heard Elvis's D-28 disappeared, too.

At 4/07/2012 04:48:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Stills LP is a Custom where Old Black is not. Messina said it was a trade for one of Neil's Gretsches. Still a bit of a mystery when it comes to the Wheat Stock on the Headstock of Neil's though. Where's Larry with the answer to that one? I believe the neck was switched from an ES but...that is just a guess. Roger

At 4/08/2012 06:31:00 PM, Blogger Old Black said...

Can't be from an ES - wrong fret markers - dots early on and traps later. Can't be from an SG - neck on SG joins body at different fret. The two great old black mysteries - the wheat stack inlay and the second round cavity cover on the back

At 4/09/2012 08:29:00 PM, Blogger BIGCHIEF said...

I recall Jim Messina mentioning how 'Old Black' had some kind of short and he would get frequent, unexpected electrical jolts ..... probably what attracted Neil to it!


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