Gibson | Eric Clapton 1964 SG Special “The Fool”
- Solid Body
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The Fool is a 1964 Gibson SG guitar, painted for Eric Clapton by the Dutch design collective of the same name. One of the world’s best-known guitars, it symbolizes the psychedelic era. Clapton used the guitar extensively while playing with Cream and it was an essential element of his famed “woman tone”.
The Fool, a “psychedelic fantasy”, according to Clapton, was the brainchild of Marijke Koger who, along with Simon Postuma, was a founding member of The Fool collective. In early 1967, the collective were contacted by Robert Stigwood, then manager of Cream, to work on instruments and costumes for the band, which was about to leave London for a tour of the United States. Koger and Postuma painted Clapton’s Gibson SG, a drum kit for Ginger Baker, and a Fender Bass VI for Jack Bruce, which he did not like very much and played only on TV performances.
The guitar made its debut as Cream played their first show in the United States on 25 March 1967 at the RKO theater on 58th Street, Manhattan, where Cream and The Who played a series of shows headlined by Mitch Ryder and promoted by Murray the K. Clapton used the guitar for most of Cream’s recordings after Fresh Cream, particularly on Disraeli Gears, until the band broke up in 1968. After Clapton it passed to Jackie Lomax, who may have acquired it from George Harrison. It then passed to Todd Rundgren, who had seen Clapton play it during Cream’s show at the RKO Theater and was “mesmerized” by it. Rundgren reportedly paid $500 for the guitar and had various repairs done to it. He had the guitar finished anew and retouched in places, and a portion of the neck and headstock was replaced. Rundgren sold the guitar in 2000 at auction for around $150,000 to pay off a tax debt, donating 10% to Clapton’s Crossroads Centre. The Fool was resold to a private collector a few years later for around $500,000.
The Fool has had other work done: some of the control knobs have been replaced and, most notably, the original trapeze-style tailpiece was replaced with a stop-tailpiece. The guitar now has Grover tuners rather than the original Klusons.
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