Explorations 9: Clapton’s Anthropomorphic Six Strings

…back when the Beano was boss
if you didn’t live it, it’s truly your loss
the soul intact, but the innocence lost
back when the Beano was boss.

Lyrics to Back When the Beano was Boss by Buddy Whittington

Buddy Whittington, on his 2011 Six String Svengali guitar celebration album, paid tribute, with the song Back When Beano was Boss,EMU JM and EC 1966 to the legendary blues rock sound generated by Eric Clapton playing on a 1960 sunburst Gibson Les Paul Standard, which was plugged into a 45-watt Marshall amp, and a Dallas Rangemaster, on the 1966 bluesy rock album: John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton. The John Mayall album

MU 1960 Les Paul.jpg

1960 Les Paul Standard “Beano”. Photo by musiczoo.com.

became known as the “Beano Album” due to Clapton reading a comic called The Beano on the album cover photo; an overt act of rebellion during the album photo shoot, or as Clapton states in his autobiography: being “uncooperative”.  As the album became known as the “Beano Album”, Clapton’s guitar, which was stolen in 1966 and never recovered, became known as the “Beano Burst”, continuing a tradition of musicians naming their instruments as one will name a pet or a lover.

Clapton made a habit of naming his guitars, as did many other guitarists, but because of his talent, his guitars went down into guitar lore as extremely expensive, and sought after, legends.  One of the most expensive guitars that he, or anyone, ever sold was Blackie; so named because of its black finish, a rebuilt guitar from the parts of 1956

MU Fool Guitar

1964 Gibson SG “The Fool”. Photo by John Peden

and 1957 Stratocasters and was Clapton’s favorite Fender Stratocaster; brought in almost one million dollars at a 2004 charity auction. Brownie, so named because of its brown sunburst body color, was a 1956 Stratocaster that he used mainly with Derek and the Dominos.  Clapton sold Brownie at a charity auction for almost one half million dollars in 1999. During Clapton’s time with Cream he mainly used a 1964 Gibson SG, known as The Fool; due to its psychedelic paint job done by the Dutch design collective also known as The Fool. This guitar passed through various hands, including Todd Rundgren and possibly George Harrison, eventually landing up in a private collector’s hands in the early 2000s.

On a closing note, Joe Bonamassa, no guitar slouch himself and a collector, stated in mid-2016 that he knew where “Beano” currently was, specifically on the east coast of the US.  The announcement was taken as an opening for the possible return of the guitar but no public notice has been posted since.


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