Eric Clapton To Auction Off His Prized Guitars

The guitar Eric Clapton used to record the album that included one of his biggest hits, “Cocaine,” is going on the auction block to benefit the drug and alcohol rehabilitation center the legendary rock musician founded.

The Fender Stratocaster, nicknamed “Blackie,” is one of 58 guitars that rock and blues master Clapton, 59, is donating as part of a June 24 auction to benefit the Crossroads Centre Antigua in the West Indies.

The guitar is practically the only one Clapton used on stage and in the studio from late 1970 to 1985.

Christie’s, the New York auction house handling the sale, estimated the instrument would fetch between $100,000 and $150,000. But if past sales are any indication, the guitar could bring in much more money.

At a 1999 Christie’s auction that also benefited Crossroads, an anonymous bidder paid a record $497,500 for “Brownie,” a 1956 Fender Stratocaster that Clapton used on the Derek and the Dominos hit, “Layla.”

That auction of 100 of Clapton’s guitars brought in over $5 million.

“Blackie,” a composite of three guitars from 1956 and 1957, is on the cover of Clapton’s 1977 album “Slowhand,” which includes such hits as “Cocaine” and “Wonderful Tonight.”

He also used it to record the albums “461 Ocean Boulevard,” “No Reason To Cry” and “Just One Night,” as well as his first music video for the song “Forever Man.”

“This was his favorite guitar for a long time,” said Kerry Keane, a musical instrument specialist for Christie’s. “Through his battle with substance abuse, the instrument was by his side.”

The condition of the guitar shows its extensive use. Large areas of black paint have worn off, and the springs in the back are exposed.

Guitar virtuoso Clapton has also donated a Gibson ES-335 that he bought in 1964 and used through stints with The Yardbirds, Cream, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Blind Faith as well as his solo career.

The estimated price is $60,000 to $80,000.

The 1939 C.F. Martin & Co. acoustic guitar that Clapton played during his famous MTV “Unplugged” appearance in 1992 is also expected to sell for between $60,000 and $80,000.

Other items in the auction include guitars donated by such musicians as Carlos Santana and Peter Townshend of The Who, as well as several of Clapton’s stage suits designed by Gianni Versace.

Clapton, a longtime Antigua resident who has spoken openly about his recovery from drug and alcohol abuse, founded Crossroads in 1998 and is its chairman of the board.

Crossroads Executive Office Tim Sinnott said Clapton has given at least $10 million of his own money to the rehabilitation center and its halfway house.


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