02 March 2023

Gibson guitar used by Chuck Berry at Wembley could fetch £20,000 at auction

02 March 2023

When rock’n’roll legend Chuck Berry broke a guitar string on stage at Wembley, someone thrust a replacement guitar into his hand so he could finish the show.

That guitar, a 1964 Gibson Firebird V, is now expected to fetch up to £20,000 at auction in Wiltshire.

Riding high in the charts with his hit My Ding-A-Ling, Berry headlined the 1972 London Rock And Roll Show at Wembley alongside Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Bill Haley and the Comets.

During the show’s climax, Berry broke a guitar string – and quick-thinking backing guitarist Terry Gibson handed him the Gibson Firebird.

The moment was captured in a film of the concert and a photographer took a photograph, which became the cover of a 2017 album of Berry’s greatest hits.

The strap being auctioned with the guitar is also believed to be the same one worn by Chuck Berry.

The instrument is being sold by a private collector who bought it from Gibson’s family.

Mr Gibson, whose real name was Terry Clemson, was a renowned British rock and roll guitarist who played with artists such as Gene Vincent and Bo Diddley, as well as his own band The Downliners.

Auctioneer Luke Hobbs, from Gardiner Houlgate, near Bath, said: “I’ve been auctioning guitars for over 15 years but this is only the second time I’ve seen a Chuck Berry instrument come up for sale.

“They’re exceptionally rare. Even though Berry used our guitar for a single night, the London Rock And Roll Show was a landmark event and is fully documented on film.”

Berry rose to fame in the 1950s with a succession of hits including Johnny B. Goode, Roll Over Beethoven and No Particular Place to Go.

Johnny B. Goode was famously covered by Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly in the hit film Back To The Future.

Berry’s last hit was My Ding-A-Ling, which topped the UK chart in 1972. He died in 2017 aged 90.

The London Rock And Roll Show took place at Wembley on August 5 1972 and was only the second concert held at the stadium.

In the concert film released in 1973, the future manager of the Sex Pistols, Malcolm McLaren, can be seen selling T-shirts.

Other items for sale in the auction include an acoustic guitar owned by The Who’s Pete Townshend, an amplifier used by Eric Clapton and a guitar owned by the late Jeff Beck.

Another rare item is a late 1960s double-neck Gibson guitar formerly owned by Mike Oldfield. Only 20 of these guitars were ever made.

The auction will take place on March 9.

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