My Favorite Guitar
It must have been about 20 years ago. The rock radio station in my town, I suppose in order to promote the current Steve Miller Band tour, was having a guitar give-away. All you had to do was go to the big guitar store in town, enter your name, and wait for the drawing. My brother and I both entered. Couple of weeks later I get a call from my brother: “They announced your name on the radio! Looks like you won!”
Yep, I sure did. Not only the guitar, but I got two tickets to the upcoming concert as well, and of course I took my slightly jealous brother (who had, in fact, told me about the contest in the first place).
The guitar was a beautiful sunburst Gibson Les Paul, signed by Mr. Miller himself. I’ve had it ever since, and having bought, sold, and collected others through the years, it is still my favorite guitar! Of course the backstory is fun, but the reason lies in the playing action and the humbucker pick-ups, but that’s another story. The signature, though, has been slightly worn off. You can only read part of it, but I’ll never forget what it says, simply:
“Happy Pickin!” -Steve Miller
Steve Miller is a pretty well-known musician from the 70s. He made a name for himself, sold a ton of albums, cranking out palatable and widely appealing pop rock fair like Jet Airliner, Fly Like an Eagle, The Joker, and others that remain in heavy rotation on classic rock radio.
What many people don’t know is that Miller was already performing and recording in the late sixties, but just didn’t have the massive pop appeal his later material would bring him. What happened was, he broke his neck in a car accident and was basically in bed from 1972 to 73. He didn’t stop making music though. After his last blues-based album didn’t do so well, and finding himself in an environment armed with only a guitar and his own ideas for months on end; he began to, as they say, “re-invent” himself as a bluesy-yet-popular songsmith.
But in fact, those pre-70s records are pretty damn good! You just wouldn’t hear much of them if you leave it to the radio to introduce you.