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SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES THE ORAL HISTORY OF THE GIBSON SG

Although it didn’t find favour with the man himself, Gibson’s reboot of Les Paul’s signature model at the end of 1960 would go on to be the company’s best-selling model of all time. Here, we tell the story of the devil-horned solidbody that for many, is the ultimate rock guitar…
This 1963 Gibson SG/Les Paul Standard has Les Paul’s name on its truss-rod cover and – unusually for that year – has a sideways Vibrola

This is the oral history of the SG, the remarkable solidbody electric that Gibson introduced at the very end of 1960. Gibson intended the SG to be a replacement for the original Les Paul and at first, it too was called a Les Paul. Later confirmed as the SG, it was a radical departure in design, its body a modernistic mix of bevels and points and angles, offering excellent upper-fret access.

In the early 60s, Gibson expanded the SG line to include Standard, Custom, Junior, Special, and TV models, plus a few associated double-necks. They found favour with countless players through the years, including Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Pete Townshend, Angus Young, Frank Zappa and many more.

The voices here come from interviews conducted for my books about guitars. The people you’ll hear from are: Tony Iommi, guitarist with Black Sabbath (1968–2017); Johnny Marr, guitarist with The Smiths (1982–’87); Ted McCarty, president at Gibson (1950– ‘66); Tony McPhee, guitarist with The Groundhogs (1963–2015); Barry ‘The Fish’ Melton, guitarist with Country Joe & The Fish (1965–’70); Jimmy Page, guitarist with Led Zeppelin (1968–’80); Les Paul, guitarist (died 2009); and Derek Trucks, guitarist with The Allman Brothers Band (1999–2014) and the Tedeschi Trucks Band (2010–present).

ORIGIN STORY

Ted McCarty

“Probably eight years after we got started with the Les Paul guitars, must have been the early 60s, Les and Mary Ford started to get a divorce. It became a very nasty, personal divorce. The disc jockeys throughout the entire United States refused to play any of his music. Now, all of a sudden what had been a very popular name and very strong for the sale of the guitars, well… now it was a detriment. And this bothered us, of course.

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