Blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan’s first guitar – a favorite he used to build his legacy as one of the greatest guitarists of all time – will cross the block April 15 in Heritage Auctions’ Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Auction in Dallas. Nicknamed “Jimbo,” Vaughan used the 1951 Fender No-caster for his very first studio recordings.
“The history of this guitar runs deep and it was particularly important to Stevie for several reasons,” said Garry Shrum, Director of Music Memorabilia at Heritage Auctions. “Not only was it his first professional-grade instrument, it was originally owned by his brother Jimmie, founder of the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Jimmie carved the word “Jimbo” in the back of the body, but gave it to his brother, who kept borrowing it without permission.”
Sometimes referred to as a Broadcaster, the electric guitar (serial number 0964) has an ash body. Stevie once said he rebuilt the guitar to his liking: as a teen, he removed the original natural finish in a school shop class and later scratched his own name lightly on the headstock beneath the tuners.
“Jimbo” is the guitar with which Stevie paid his dues, developing his signature style on club stages in the mid-1960s until 1971. During his teen years, Stevie and “Jimbo” were inseparable, with the young virtuoso even sleeping with the Fender in his clutches. He played the guitar in several of his early bands, including garage outfit Southern Distributor, Liberation – a 10-piece horn band playing a mix of Top 40 and Rock from Chicago to Hendrix – and Lincoln, featuring Hendrix-influenced singer Christian de Plicque.
“One need look no further than Stevie’s own words to see how important this guitar is,” notes Vaughan biographer Craig Hopkins. “In a 1989 interview with Timothy White, 18 years after he traded it away, and despite countless guitars in between, Stevie said ‘I ended up letting someone talk me into selling and I’m still kicking myself! Still looking for it …’ One of the best guitarists of all time valued ‘Jimbo’ very highly.”
Hopkins adds that one of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitars would be the prize of any collection, but “if you want one of his main guitars, you buy ‘Jimbo’ or you don’t get one. It is believed to be one of only two of Stevie’s primary stage guitars to be offered for sale, the other selling for $623,000 14 years ago.”
Included with the guitar are two CD copies of early, unreleased and never-before heard public live recordings of Stevie playing “Jimbo.” One of the two CDs is a live set from Stevie’s early jazz-rock band, Liberation. An 11-song set of covers including “Whole Lotta Love,” “25 or 6 to 4” and “The Star Spangled Banner” – the earliest known Stevie Ray Vaughan live recording.