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  • Writer's pictureEric Dahl

Lucille for Auction

As many of you know the Estate of B.B. King is placing some of his personal items up for sale through Julien’s Auctions in September of this year. One of these personal affects is the 80th Birthday Prototype #1 Gibson Lucille that Gibson gave to Mr. King as a gift for his 80th birthday in 2006. It became his favorite Lucille to perform with and was eventually stolen, ended up at a Las Vegas pawnshop and fell into the hands of the author of the Blog you are currently reading. Many friends and family have reached out to see how I felt about this iconic Lucille that I was connected with being sold to the highest bidder. My attachment to the guitar was that it offered me the opportunity to do the right thing and return it to the original owner, who happened to be the King of the Blues and one of the greatest musicians of all time in my opinion. If I had happened up someone else’s stolen instrument at a pawnshop that I frequented I would have also returned that, although it wouldn’t have gained national coverage – but still the right thing to do. My hope is that B.B. King’s 80th Birthday Lucille goes to a museum like the Smithsonian where it would be on display for everyone to see, appreciate and remember King’s legacy. The challenge is that most museums, especially blues museums, can’t afford to bid on such objects and must rely upon donations of memorabilia from artists and their families. To answer another question that has been posed to me I would not want the Lucille and certainly don’t deserve it for returning BB’s stolen one. After I returned that Lucille it is the only one that King played in concert and on tour from 2009 through 2014 when he stopped touring due to health reasons. That means more to me than anything. The experience of spending 45 minutes in the office of my guitar idol and returning his stolen favorite guitar was worth the price of admission even if I didn’t receive a Lucille as a thank you from him. The Estate of B.B. King and his family have been in litigation since King passed in 2015 and I have stayed neutral and friendly with all parties. Of the 15 children that BB acknowledged I believe that 13 are still living. And some of those want their fair share of the estate. Who am I to say what is right or wrong when it comes to material objects of a parent? I’m a footnote in the story of a mythical 80th Birthday Gibson Lucille that will go up on the auction block next month. Estimates of the value range from $80-$100,000 and some project up to $250,000 with the unique history that follows this guitar. As I inch closer to another birthday myself I find that I am more drawn to experiences and less captivated by objects. Maybe it is growth, maturity or just wanting to lighten my load some in this world? I think many of us go through accumulation phases of our lives and then we move on to the next phase. Things for the sake of things don’t mean as much as the ones that have a memory attached to them or passed down from a loved one or friend. The objects that have been passed down or on to me I find more enjoyment in. Hopefully whom ever acquires B.B. King’s prized 80th Birthday Lucille will appreciate how much B enjoyed playing it talking about it and how proud he was to have a signature Lucille that Gibson created for him. She’s a unique lady with no serial number on the back of the headstock only a simple white ink stamp that states “Prototype #1.” But I cared for her, restrung and polished her as a curator should before she returned to her rightful home to be taken back on the road, played by a master and entertained millions. Quite a journey for a simple guitar constructed in a Nashville, TN factory. It will be interesting to see how this auction of B.B. King’s personal effects pans out in September, but I have no regrets and I came away with great memories and a unique story to tell.


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