Bob Marley's Guitar for Grammy Museum

Friday, April 01, 2011    

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Bob Marley's legendary guitar will be on loan to the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, USA, for a year as part of a grand exhibition to commemorate 30 years since the death of the reggae icon.

Reggae's greatest hits would have been strummed on that Gibson Les Paul electric guitar. It was his instrument of choice both in studio and live. The Marley sons in the US have just received the pop heirloom from the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, which will be substituted with a cut-out replica of the guitar during the period of its absence.

"It was taken by hand and delivered to Stephen, Bob and Rita's second son, en route to be delivered to Ziggy, their first son. It was taken by Errol Brown, Bob's engineer. As you can imagine we had to ensure its safety and that it was carried by someone trusted and who we knew would look after it and treat it with the care and respect it deserves," stated Jacqueline Lynch Stewart, general manager at the Bob Marley Museum in a mailed response to Observer queries.

The "loan" period will commence in May when the guitar will be delivered to the Grammy Museum according to Stewart. The guitar is one of the most popular exhibits at the Bob Marley Museum she stated. It greeted visitors on the final stages of the 45-minute tour displayed along with Marley's analog mixing board.

However there is also another prominent guitar housed at the museum within Bob Marley's bedroom. It is a star-shaped acoustic guitar resting by his bedside, seen during a visit by Splash two weeks ago. The Museum on Hope Road was formerly the home of Bob Marley, but was transformed into a Museum following his death in 1981.

"Members of staff were anxious about it leaving the Museum, but all understand that Bob is not only a Jamaican legend, but a world legend, so he has to be shared with the rest of the world. Further, it is a honour to have the Grammy Museum do a special Bob Marley exhibit and we thank them for the honour bestowed on our beloved Brother Bob," stated Stewart.

The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles is yet to promote the Marley exhibition based on recent checks to its website. That museum occupies four floors of exhibit space running some 30,000 square feet.

Importantly, The guitar's manufacturer Gibson in 2002 celebrated Marley by issuing 200 limited-edition, Bob Marley Les Paul Specials. These were reissues built to the exact specifications of his guitar on display at the museum. The solid body mahogany guitar from Gibson's Custom, Art & Historic division replicates a number of unique appointments including Marley's trademark white binding on the headstock and fingerboard - now yellowed with age - and small pearl block inlays.

Marley, modified his Les Paul Special by removing the original wraparound tailpiece and inserting dowels in the fill holes, substituting a stop bar tailpiece, according to Gibson. The guitar company duplicated these characteristics as well as the aluminum pickguard and aluminum football-shaped switchwasher around the 3-way selector switch. A carefully aged Cherry finish as well as marks and scratches copied from the original instrument completed the well-worn look and feel of the guitar. Marley's signature appears on the headstock.

— Steven Jackson





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