Stevie Ray Vaughan author Craig Hopkins discusses Vaughan’s early years as a guitarist and his first guitar, “Jimbo,” which will be up for auction this month via Heritage Auctions.
Opening bids on the guitar “Jimbo” will begin March 27. The opening bid is $200,000. The guitar is part of Heritage’s April 15, 2018 Entertainment Signature Auction in Dallas. Here is Heritage Auctions’ full description of the guitar:
The Stevie Ray Vaughan Owned and Stage-Played “Jimbo” Electric Guitar. “Jimbo” is iconic Blues-Rock guitar maestro Stevie Ray Vaughan’s first professional-grade guitar. This is the instrument with which he made his very first studio recordings, and served as his primary stage guitar during the formative years of his career. The 1951 Fender No-caster (sometimes referred to as a Broadcaster), serial number 0964, with an ash body (originally featuring a natural finish, though removed later by Vaughan in shop class at school), was acquired by Stevie in his youth from his brother and founder of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Jimmie Vaughan, who has carved “Jimbo” into the back of the body. Stevie has likewise scratched his own name lightly on the headstock beneath the tuners. As Stevie, a player in the same league as guitar titans Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page, has been inducted to both the Rock and Roll and Blues Hall[s] of Fame, the immense history of this piece cannot be overstated.
According to a story from Stevie’s longtime friend and roadie Cutter Brandenburg (printed in a 2006 issue of Guitar World magazine), the guitar was gifted to the younger Vaughan in 1966 when he was 12 years of age at the request of mutual friend – and fellow fixture of the Austin Blues scene – Doyle Bramhall, who had come upon the brothers arguing. Apparently, Stevie was in the habit of borrowing Jimmie’s guitars without asking permission. Bramhall’s solution? Give the guitar to Stevie so that perhaps he’d leave Jimmie’s other instruments alone. Jimmie saw wisdom in the idea, and so young Stevie came to possess his first professional-quality guitar.
“Jimbo” is the guitar with which Stevie paid his dues, developing his signature style on club stages in the late-1960s into 1971. It’s been said that in this period Stevie and “Jimbo” were inseparable, with the young virtuoso even sleeping with the Fender in his clutches. He played the guitar in several of his early bands, including garage outfit Southern Distributor, Liberation – a 10-piece horn band playing a mix of Top 40 and Rock from Chicago to Hendrix, and Lincoln, featuring Hendrix-influenced singer Christian de-Plicque. It wasn’t until sometime in 1971 that Vaughan let the guitar go. He traded it to North Texas music teacher Geoff Appold for a red Epiphone, because some of Stevie’s idols played Epiphone guitars. When he and Appold crossed paths years later, Stevie inquired about “Jimbo”, and learned the guitar had been traded. In a 1989 interview with Timothy White, Stevie reminisced about the long lost guitar: “[Jimmie] gave me a ’51 Tele, a cross between a Broadcaster and a Tele that I rebuilt and ended up letting someone talk me into selling and I’m still kicking myself! Still looking for it, by the way! So if somebody finds a guitar that says ‘Jimbo’ on the back and it’s the right one, it’s the real deal – you can come rape me for it, or my pocketbook anyway!”
The guitar ended up in a Dallas recording studio, where it resided for many years. When the studio closed in the 1970s, one of the session player – a friend of the consignor – negotiated for the guitar in settlement of what he was owed. The consignor, also a guitar player, used the guitar from 1988 until 2005 when he purchased Jimbo.
Included with the guitar are two CD copies of early Stevie Ray Vaughan live recordings – all featuring this guitar – that have remained unreleased and unheard by the public. One of the two is a live set from Vaughan’s early Jazz-Rock band Liberation. An eleven-song set of covers including “Whole Lotta Love,” “25 or 6 to 4,” and “The Star Spangled Banner,” this set is the earliest known Stevie ray Vaughan live recording.
Exhibited: The GRAMMY Museum, Los Angeles, 2010 – 2014. At Jimmie Vaughan’s request, “Jimbo” was displayed at the museum beside Stevie’s iconic Stratocaster, “Number One.”
“Pride and Joy: The Texas Blues of Stevie Ray Vaughan.” The GRAMMY Museum, Los Angeles, June 11, 2014 – April 18, 2015. It then continued to be displayed at GRAMMY exhibits in Minneapolis, Mississippi, and Austin.
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