Eric Clapton’s Gibson ‘The Fool’ Guitar Auctioned For $1.27 Million
Eric Clapton’s ‘The Fool’ guitar has sold at auction for a whopping $1.27 million (£1.03 million).The six-string 1964 custom ‘Summer of Love’ Gibson SG went under the hammer via Julien’s Auctions in Nashville last week. ‘The Fool’ sold for $1.27 million, making it not only the most expensive Clapton guitar ever sold at auction, but also one of the most expensive guitars ever sold at auction outright.
‘The Fool’s’ $1,270,000 valuation places it in the top 10 of that list, sitting in between Duane Allman’s 1957 Gibson Les Paul (which sold in 2019 for $1.25 million) and David Gilmour’s 1954 Fender Stratocaster, which sold for $1.815 million, also in 2019.
The guitar hero used the instrument to record his former band Cream’s 1967 album Disraeli Gears. It got its name from the Dutch art collective The Fool and became an influential emblem of the psychedelic era and a symbol of the Summer of Love in 1967.
It was also used by Clapton when Cream made their live US debut on March 25, 1967, at Manhattan’s RKO Theater, and became key to the development of Clapton’s trademark “woman tone”.
Clapton gave the guitar to his close friend, The Beatles’ George Harrison, after which the guitar was owned by both Jackie Lomax and Todd Rundgren, who held onto the guitar until 2000.
Seven-figure sums and history aside, the auction was also notable for the fact ‘The Fool’ was purchased by one of the world’s most renowned vintage guitar collectors: businessman and Indianapolis Colts owner, Jim Irsay.
Darren Julien, President/Chief Executive Officer of Julien’s Auctions said: “Eric Clapton’s The Fool, one of the most important guitars in all of rock music history has made history once again tonight at our auction.
“To have this legendary guitar that created and defined the classic rock sound that is an art masterpiece and symbol of the psychedelic ‘Summer of Love’ era go to Jim Irsay’s renowned memorabilia collection is another great privilege and hallmark of my career and a highlight of Julien’s Auctions twenty-year anniversary celebration this year.”
A portion of the funds will benefit Kicking The Stigma, The Indianapolis Colts and Irsay Family’s mental health awareness program.
Clapton has generously gifted his guitars over the years, and Ed Sheeran was one of those lucky enough to receive one of them. Sheeran has been friends with Clapton for a number of years, and he was worried when the instrument was badly damaged in a fire at his studio.
Appearing on the YouTube show Hot Ones in 2021, Ed said: “My hero is Eric. When I was 11, I heard Layla, picked up a guitar and went from there. I got to know him in 2015 and we’ve been friends ever since.
“I went to his house, and he took his guitar off the wall and just gave it to me. He signed the back and said, ‘Keep my guitar’. I was like, ‘F. Cool.’
“It was the only guitar in my studio at home and I was on tour and the person looking after my house phoned me up and said, ‘Your music studio is on fire’, and I was like, ‘F! The guitar is in that studio.’ The guitar comes out and it’s burnt to a crisp.”
Thankfully for Ed, a friend was able to fix the precious guitar – with the autograph still intact – although it was left smelling “like a burnt house”.
He added: “He brought it back totally restored, but now it smells like a burnt house. But it plays amazing, looks amazing, actually kind of smells amazing and it still has Eric’s signature on it. That’s my favourite guitar.”
After the fire in 2019, the guitar was restored by Monty’s Guitars, and a post on the company’s Instagram revealed the work they did. They wrote: “Once we had looked it over it became apparent that, structurally, the guitar was pretty much sound and the damage was largely cosmetic.