A 1964 Gibson Firebird used by Chuck Berry is up for auction and could fetch over £20,000. Making this one rare bird indeed and possibly a very expensive one as well.
The guitar sold for £21,488 including a 26.4% premium charge from the auction house. This means it sold at auction for £17,000, which is a lot less than I thought it would.
Chuck Berry’s 1964 Gibson Firebird
Chuck Berry was seen playing the 1964 Firebird at one of his most memorable performances at the London Wembley arena, alongside Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Bill Haley and the Comets.
Technically, it wasn’t actually Berry’s guitar and in fact, belonged to Terry Clemson. Though it was played live on stage by Chuck and so it has that association.
Terry purchased the guitar in 1964 when it had its original sunburst finish. Terry can be seen playing the guitar in its original form with Gene Vincent in the late 1960s.
The guitar’s most prominent outing was at The London Rock and Roll Show at Wembley Stadium in 1972, where headliner Chuck Berry was handed the guitar to close out his extended performance.
According to Gardiner Houlgate, the auction house, the black Firebird is in pretty good shape considering its age. Plus, it can actually be seen in both the 1970s footage of the performance and also on the cover of a 2017 greatest hits album.
The refinished Firebird was used by Berry during a headline slot at The Rock and Roll Show in 1972 after his main guitar snapped a string. It originally had a sunburst finish, though was refinished sometime between the late ‘60s and 1972.
I very much doubt that this will hurt the price of this vintage guitar though. As Chuck Berry is a huge part of guitar history and the provenance of this guitar is well documented.
This auction will take place on Thursday 9 March and the guitar is predicted to sell for close to £20,000, though I guess it could go for a lot higher.
Fans of the late guitarist with deep pockets could well push the price up beyond the expected sale price. Even without the association with a rock and roll legend, it is a great-looking old guitar. Even for a re-fin!