Two Legendary Les Pauls

You've probably heard about the Les Paul. 


The Les Paul is one of Gibson's popular trademark electric guitars. Eric Clapton's Les Paul was a 1959 Cherry Sunburst with a thin neck, twin black humbuckers on the bridge, and twin white humbuckers on the body. It's the axe (slang for electric guitar) he used when he recorded the album Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton, with John Mayall and the Blues Breakers, in 1966. 


Eric Clapton's Les Paul was nicknamed "Beano" because Clapton was reading a Beano children's comic on the cover of the Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton album they produced. This was the legendary Les Paul that Eric "Clapton is God" Clapton used -- the Beano. 


The Beano was stolen sometime in March 1966, after a Cream rehearsal, making it more legendary. Clapton later replaced the Beano with another Les Paul.


Rewind. There were only around six to seven Les Pauls in London around that time. One of them belonged to Andy Summers (he will join The Police a decade later). It was Andy Summer's Les Paul Standard Burst that first led Eric Clapton to buy one (the Beano).


Andy Summers was playing gigs with Eric Clapton at The Flamingo Club in Soho, London. This was between April to July, 1965. At the time, Summers had just bought a 1959 Les Paul Cherry Sunburst. When Clapton saw Summers' new Les Paul he immediately became interested and asked Summers where he got it.


Summers pointed Clapton to the store on Charing Cross Road in London, and told him they have another one on sale for eighty quid. Eric Clapton bought the 1959 Cherry Sunburst Les Paul from the Lew Davis' guitar shop on Charing Cross Road. 


In the meantime, with the Beano gone, Clapton borrowed Keith Richard's (Rolling Stones) Les Paul for Cream's debut gig at the Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival in July 1966. 


But he still needed his own guitar and was thinking of buying a Rickenbacker as a replacement.


But knowing that Andy Summers owns a Les Paul similar to the one he lost, Clapton started calling Summers asking him to sell his Les Paul to him. After some negotiating -- Summers was telling Clapton that the back pick-up on his Les Paul wasn't working -- Andy Summers sold his Standard Burst Les Paul to Eric Clapton. Clapton offered Summers something like two hundred pounds, more than twice its original price, for the Les Paul. 


Eric Clapton thought Summers' Les Paul was great, and played just like his old (stolen) one.


The Les Paul Standard Burst that Eric Clapton borrowed from Keith Richards is probably the most legendary Les Paul -- the granddaddy of all Les Paul Bursts. 


Keith Richards bought the 1959 Les Paul Standard at a popular second-hand guitar shop, the Selmer's Guitar Shop in London. The axe was originally owned by John Bowen, lead guitar of the band, Mike Dean and the Kinsmen. 


John Bowen had a Bigsby tremolo fitted on his Les Paul, and then some time later (1962) traded his Gibson Les Paul for a Gretsch Country Gentleman, at Semper's. When Keith Richards bought the Les Paul at Semper's sometime later, it included the Bigsby tremolo that they had installed for John Bowen.


The Les Paul Burst with the Bigsby tremolo was Keith Richards go to guitar, his main guitar of choice. He recorded many of the Rolling Stones hits with this Les Paul, including the chart buster, Satisfaction. This legendary Les Paul, nicknamed "Keith Burst", is what Keith Richards is seen holding in many Rolling Stones photos from the 1960's era.