Guitar Center and Fender Sell Out 185 BLACKIE Stratocaster Guitars in 7 Hours

(Guitar Center | Posted 2006-12-04)

Guitar Center and Fender Sell Out 185 BLACKIE Stratocaster Guitars in 7 Hours

Guitar Center, Inc. (Nasdaq NMS: GTRC), America's leading musical instrument and professional audio retailer, made an enormous contribution to the preservation of music history when it purchased at auction, for $959,500, the FenderŽ StratocasterŽ guitar once owned by Eric Clapton and affectionately known as BLACKIEŽ. Guitar Center also made history when 185 FenderŽ Custom Shop Tribute Series BLACKIEŽ StratocasterŽ guitars, meticulously handcrafted by the renowned FenderŽ Custom Shop Master Builders, sold out in less than 7 hours. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the legendary artist's Crossroads Centre in Antigua. The Crossroads Centre is an internationally recognized treatment center for addiction, founded by Clapton.

The 185 guitars earmarked for the U.S. market were offered for sale starting Friday, November 24, 2006, at precisely 10 a.m. EST, 9 a.m. CST, 8 a.m. MST and 7 a.m. PST, and were sold strictly on a first-come, first-serve basis through Guitar Center's more than 195 U.S. retail locations. Within the first two minutes, 106 of the recreated BLACKIEŽ guitars had been sold to eager aficionados, each at $20,000. In just over 7 hours, the remaining guitars were completely sold.

"I am delighted to hear that the replica of BLACKIEŽ, which was a guitar very special to me, has proved to be such a success and that the project will help support the Crossroads Centre, Antigua and in particular the new transitional living facility that Crossroads is in the process of acquiring in Delray Beach, Florida," said Eric Clapton.

BLACKIEŽ, a mid-1950s FenderŽ StratocasterŽ guitar pieced together by Clapton himself from numerous individual FenderŽ guitars, was Clapton's main instrument throughout the 1970s and '80s. Clapton's albums 461 Ocean Boulevard, Slowhand, No Reason to Cry and Just One Night, among others, were all recorded with BLACKIEŽ. In addition to memorable solo tours, Clapton and BLACKIEŽ shared the stage with Pete Townshend, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters and The Band.

This historic addition to the Custom Shop Tribute Series replicates BLACKIEŽ down to the smallest of details -- from the worn-to-the-wood body, to the neck re-shaped by Eric's hand as he played a thousand heartfelt solos, to the unmistakable cigarette burns on the headstock.

When Clapton envisioned his Crossroads Centre, now an internationally renowned treatment facility for addiction disorders in Antigua, he offered his famed BLACKIEŽ FenderŽ StratocasterŽ for sale at auction through the prestigious Christie's auctioneers. The auction was held on June 24, 2004, in New York City. There, Guitar Center purchased it for $959,500 -- one of the highest prices on record ever paid for a guitar. Guitar Center, a leading sponsor of Clapton's landmark Crossroads festival in Dallas, TX, brought the guitar to FenderŽ's Custom Shop in Corona, CA, where FenderŽ's experienced Master Builders meticulously measured it millimeter by millimeter, analyzing every part of the original BLACKIEŽ. Their precision extended to reproducing the legendary distressed #50 "Duck Bros" road case complete with stenciled London phone number 01 486 8056 and artificially aging the finish to ensure an authentic vintage look. Clapton himself approved this incredible accomplishment, as indicated on a Certificate of Authenticity personally signed by Eric Clapton himself.

Commenting on the success of the BLACKIEŽ project, Alan Waite, Sr. V.P. Sales - USA & Canada for FenderŽ Musical Instruments Corporation, stated, "Without the creative genius of Eric Clapton, the extraordinary commitment of Guitar Center, and the dedication of the people at FenderŽ, this historic occasion could not have happened."

Guitar Center's Vice President of Merchandising, Guitar Division, Keith Brawley, stated, "Everyone at Guitar Center is extremely proud of our association with Eric Clapton and FenderŽ and we're excited for all the players and collectors who will enjoy these incredible instruments. We are equally delighted that the sales of these guitars will additionally result in a charitable donation to support the Crossroads Centre and their efforts to battle substance abuse."

Because of the continuing high consumer demand for instantly collectable guitars, the FenderŽ Custom Shop Tribute Series Master Craftsmen are already hard at work on their 2007 spring edition. For more information visit

Photo: Pictured (L-R) celebrating this historical sales event: Jay Wanamaker, Guitar Center Executive Vice President, General Merchandise manager; Tony Motta, FenderŽ/Guitar Center National Accounts Representative; Michael Doyle, Director of Merchandising, Guitars and Amplifiers; Keith Brawley, Guitar Center Vice President Merchandising, Guitar Division; Alan Waite, FenderŽ Sr. Vice President Sales - USA & Canada; and of course - front & center - BLACKIEŽ. Photo by Richie Pidanick.

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