• Country Music Sale auction at Christies

    Sale 2276

    Country Music Sale

    3 December 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 138

    LUTHER PERKINS

    FENDER ELECTRIC INSTRUMENT COMPANY, A SOLID-BODY ELECTRIC GUITAR, ESQUIRE, FULLERTON, CA, 1955

    Price Realised  

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    LUTHER PERKINS
    FENDER ELECTRIC INSTRUMENT COMPANY, A SOLID-BODY ELECTRIC GUITAR, ESQUIRE, FULLERTON, CA, 1955
    The headstock bearing the logo Fender ESQUIRE, the neck plate stamped 08844, length of body: 15¾ in. (40 cm) with original case, leather tooled strap bearing the name LUTHER PERKINS and a sundry of personal items found in the case compartment (3)


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    Luther Perkins was partial to Fender guitars and amplifiers. He was known to have owned four Esquires over his career starting with the one he barrowed in 1954 from O.K. Houck Music in Memphis. It is traditionally believed that this guitar came into his possession in about 1958 and was his favorite. It saw the most use, of the four, and was being played well into the 1960's even while Fender was supplying him with Jaguars and a Jazzmaster.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that this lot is sold with a hand written instrumental score of Luther Perkins's Indigo.


    Pre-Lot Text

    Born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1928, his family moved to Como, Mississippi where Luther Perkins was raised. As a boy he sold used bricks for two cents a piece that would fund the purchase of his first guitar. By 1953 Perkins had returned to Memphis and was working as an auto mechanic where he made the acquaintance of fellow mechanic Marshall Grant. Through music these two coworkers formed a friendship and played together at every opportunity. In 1954 another coworker Roy Cash introduced them to his brother John R. Cash who had just returned from his military service in Germany. These three would form a close bond through the music they played and together make the first recordings at the Sun Studios in Memphis as Johnny Cash and The Tennessee Two.
    With Johnny Cash singing in a low baritone and playing rhythm guitar Perkins and Grant devised a back up sound that was new and different. Luther would deaden the string with the palm of his hand and cross pick a bass line with each chord change. By playing the same notes as Marshall's bass runs the "boom-chicka" style was born and would become synonymous with Johnny Cash's sound. The haunting drone of Perkins's guitar style with his signature reverb would quickly be embraced by rock-a-billy and early rock and roll guitarists.
    As a guitar hero and innovator Perkins's career was tragically cut short when he perished following a fire in his Hendersonville, Tennessee home in 1968.