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Press Release - November 8, 2010
Legendary ‘slap’ bassist Bill Black’s 1960 Fender Precision leads vintage guitar auction in Beverly Hills
Stage-used bass from the post-King period of Elvis Presley’s bassist throughout the 1950s; auction includes 500+ rare Gibson, Martin, Fender and National guitars
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – A 1960 Fender Precision bass and case owned and played by the legendary Bill Black, Elvis Presley’s original bassist throughout the 1950s, will be the centerpiece of a collection of more than 500 Fine and Vintage guitars and stringed instruments being auctioned as part of Heritage Auctions Beverly Hills Nov. 13-14 Signature® Music & Entertainment Auction. It is estimated at $10,000+.
“Bill Black is an icon of Rockabilly, the idol of countless bassists, and one of the first players to adopt the Fender P Bass,” said Mike Gutierrez, Consignment Director for Heritage Auctions, “and the provenance is rock solid; the guitar comes straight from Black’s children, and includes the Loan Agreement from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, where this bass guitar was on display with other Bill Black mementos in 2009.”
Black's career started at the age of 16, playing acoustic guitar in local bars in his hometown of Memphis. By 1952 he had hooked up with guitarist Scotty Moore and, by 1954, the duo of Black and Moore was formed into a trio with a then-unknown performer named Elvis Presley. Black played on many early Presley recordings, but is most noted for playing a Precision Bass for Elvis in the movie Jailhouse Rock. Black left Presley in 1958 and formed the Bill Black Combo, which then became a Top 40 mainstay. Though poor health kept Black off the road from 1963 until his untimely death in 1965, the Bill Black Combo was still loved and respected by four young lads from Liverpool, otherwise known as The Beatles, who asked the combo to open for them on their first American tour in 1964.
“This is a gorgeous instrument aside from its legendary owner,” said Gutierrez. “It is 100% original, no questions.”
Whoever bids on and wins this Bill Black P-Bass will be in good company; Black’s original stand-up bass, which he played while with Elvis, is owned today by one of those four young Liverpool lads, Paul McCartney, gifted to him by his wife Linda in the late 1970s.
The Bill Black bass, while the highest profile guitar in the auction, is just one of many superb vintage instruments that will be available to collectors in mid-November. Among the highlights is a gorgeous 1961 Gibson ES-335 Cherry, #16858, including its original hard case, estimated at $12,000+, and a stunning 1956 Gibson Les Paul Std All Gold Electric Guitar, #63899, estimated at $10,000+.
“This particular guitar was discontinued in 1955 when the Tune-O-Matic Bridge version was introduced,” said Gutierrez. “It had to be shipped late, because it’s a 1956 issue, making it even rarer. It certainly represents a beautiful Les Paul, and one that smart collectors will go crazy for.”
The continued demand for fine examples of Gibson Sunburst guitars will continue to be fueled by several top examples, led by a 1965 Gibson Firebird VII Sunburst Electric Guitar, #256742, with original hard shell case, estimated at $10,000+, and complemented by a 1962 Fender Custom Esquire Sunburst Electric Guitar, #8867, the last of the rosewood slab board Fenders, with its original Tolex hard shell case, estimated at $9,000+.
Heritage Auctions, headed by Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin and Greg Rohan, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $600 million, and 500,000+ registered online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com.
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