Clapton to bid for his own guitar at auction

Kate Watson-Smyth
Tuesday 01 June 1999 23:02 BST

THE ROCK star Eric Clapton, who is planning to sell 100 of his guitars to raise money for charity, said yesterday he was planning to buy back one of them.

He said he had not realised the "wrench" he would feel at parting with the instrument and had decided to bid for it.

"I've realised there is one that I just can't part with so I will be bidding in secret for it," he said. "It is not a very expensive guitar but I would pay a reasonable price for it as I really want to hold on to it.

"It is a guitar that's been around my house for years and I've picked it up in times of great stress, like a comfort blanket."

Clapton would not reveal which guitar he wanted back but said the one he would miss most was "Brownie", a 1956 Fender Stratocaster he played on his biggest solo hit, Layla. It is the most expensive guitar in the 24 June sale at Christie's in New York, with a catalogue price of $80,000 to $100,000 (pounds 50,000 to pounds 62,500). Clapton bought it in 1967 when he was with the group Cream.

Also in the sale with a catalogue price of $20,000-$30,000 is a Thirties D'Angelico Excel in sunburst finish bound maple body and maple neck and, at the same catalogue price, a 1954 Fender Stratocaster with sunburst finish maple neck with skunk-stripe routing.

The star, who has been dubbed "Slowhand" because of his haunting blues style, said he had kept about 20 guitars for himself but it had not been difficult to choose which ones to sell. "I have kept those that I play virtually every day and made sure I still have what I need," he said.

He said he wanted his guitars to go to people who would play them. Those in the sale he either used or acquired from 1967 to this year.

In 1996 Clapton risked his life in a fire at his house in Chelsea, west London, trying to rescue his guitars.

The proceeds from the auction - which are expected to reach pounds 625,000 - will be donated to the Crossroads treatment centre for drug addicts he founded last year in Antigua, where he has a pounds 1.5m home. Clapton said: "I want people from the Caribbean to come and get free treatment when they need it, but the money raised by this sale is a drop in the ocean and we need a lot more."

The guitarist, who was awarded the OBE for services to music in 1994, is planning a new year millennium party for teetotallers at which he will perform with a band. He said that after giving up alcohol 12 years ago, he started holding such parties "because New Year's Eve is the worst night of the year for people who don't drink".

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