Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas day will be exactly one year since James Brown passed away.

A few months before his death my friend Chet gave me the neck, headstock, and body of a demolished Les Paul Standard that had been autographed by James Brown. He was commissioning me to use this guitar to make a piece of art for his home.

This guitar was completely destroyed and raped of its pots and pick ups but it still has its soul. Not only was this guitar handled by the godfather, but it was destroyed during some sort of “moment” during a Quadrajets show. I asked Chet why he broke it and he said it wouldn’t stay in tune.

Originally this was supposed to be a shelf piece but I couldn’t break the composition of it up in a way that seemed to make sense for this to be on a shelf. No matter how I positioned these parts, it still felt like a guitar, so I decided to align the parts in the order that they should be, head on top, body on bottom, with the neck in between.

The arrow shaped handles on the headstock and the body came off of the cabinet doors from a 1800s home in the downtown Tuscaloosa area. I built new kitchen cabinets for this home and during the installation noticed the original cabinets in the dumpster. I got in there with my electric drill and salvaged a handful of these pulls and a few pair of matching hinges.

The black cat inside the pick up cavity came out of my boys toy box. Neither of them can tell me what toy it was from. Probably one of those damn machines in the grocery store that they pour quarters inside everytime we go inside.

The guitar cable that ties all the parts together belonged to Paul Wine Jones. Sweetdog and Matt were his rhythm section for the last couple of years of his life. Many times Paul would use the Dexateens silver burst Les Paul and it would come back with things that belonged to him inside the case. I ended up with a few of Paul’s items this way.

I would guess that when James autographed the Les Paul, it was a functional guitar. Chet told me that the signature was in black marker and was pretty hard to see. This is why Chet scratched on top of the markings from the James Brown writing so that it could be read and preserved. This linear crazy looking scratching is an important part the assemblage in my mind because it looks like some sort of expressive line drawing. It says something like “to Chet from James Brown” I like to think of this as a collaboration between myself, James Brown, Chet , Gibson guitars.


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