This guitar was bought by Eric Clapton when he was with Cream during 1968. It is thought to be used by him on the first date of Cream's Farewell tour at Almeda County Coliseum, Oakland, USA on 4th October, 1968. This concert was recorded and some of the tracks, including White Room, Politician and Deserted Cities Of The Heart, were later released on Live Cream Volume II. The guitar is seen in footage shot during the Farewell tour featured in the Polygram video Strange Brew. Clapton also used this guitar while playing with Blind Faith who toured America in the Summer of 1969 with Free as their support band. It was during this tour that Clapton swapped the guitar for a black Les Paul Custom with Paul Kossoff who later used it extensively with Free.
The vendor, Paul Rodgers bought this guitar from Max Kay of EFR Guitars in 1980 who had originally bought it from vintage guitar dealer, Phil Harris in the 1970s. Paul Rodgers also used the guitar on his first solo album Cut Loose in 1983 and has played it on both world tours with The Firm in 1985 and 1986.
The association between the Gibson Les Paul and Eric Clapton is an important part of the story of the modern electric guitar. The original Les Paul was first launched in 1952 and was never particularly popular, so was withdrawn in 1960. When Eric Clapton started using a Les Paul with a Marshall amp in 1965 with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, he was the major figure in the resurrection of the Les Paul and it was brought back into production in 1968. Clapton's use of the guitar with John Mayall and Cream encouraged many of the major figures in British Music to take up the instrument including George Harrison, Peter Green, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Paul Kossoff.
In a letter dated 29th October, 1999 from David Kossoff, [Paul's father], to Clapton asking for his help in identifying the guitar, he recalls ...One of Paul's treasured memories was that after a show in which both Free and your own band took part you asked him (U/L you + him) how he made a certain effect! His way of playing was much influenced by your own.
According to Bill Smith and David Clayton in the sleeve notes for Paul Kossoff's posthumous release Blue Soul in 1986, Paul's first interest in playing the blues came from a visit to The Refectory Club, Golders Green, in September 1965 to see John Mayall's Blues-breakers. The line-up that night included a guitarist who was starting to make a name for himself, Eric Clapton. 'I'd never heard a guitar played like that before,' Paul said later 'It was an amazing sound!'
Christie's would like to thank Saiichi Sugiyama for his help in the preparation of this catalogue entry.