Rolling Stones guitar mystery solved
6th Dec 2007 | 16:45
Brian Jones's Harmony Stratotone paid dental bill
The mercurial life of Brian Jones is shrouded in myth and mystery, but now at least one of the puzzles has been solved. Jones's first electric guitar was a Harmony Stratotone that he not only played on the first Rolling Stones hit single Come On, but also used to teach Keith Richards.
The instrument had been missing in action since the early sixties until earlier in 2007 when the family of a dentist from Ealing, West London came forward. Basil 'Tug' Wilson claimed to have been given the instrument by the Stones' accountant Eric Easton in lieu of payment for dental treatment.
Basil Wilson's son, Robert, said Easton used to visit the surgery. "They became friends and one day he turned up with this guitar. He assured us it was Brian's and it followed another gift of a drum kit. The Harmony has remained in the family ever since, and me and my three brothers all learned to play on it too."
Purchased for just £30 in 1959 by the original Rolling Stones manager Dick Hattrell, the guitar could now potentially fetch tens of thousands of pounds at auction. The Stratotone currently resides in a museum at the Wheatsheaf pub near Cheltenham, where Jones first performed.
Hattrell said: "Brian was brilliant on the acoustic guitar, but what he really wanted was an electric guitar. I knew he needed to further his career so I offered to buy him a guitar. Brian almost snapped my arm off and he knew exactly what he wanted."
Jones's then-girlfriend, Pat Andrews, remembers "seeing Brian sat on our tatty sofa with Keith cross-legged at his feet. He was teaching Keith how to play because he only knew three chords back then."
Eastwood Guitars currently produce several vintage reissue instruments that derive from the Harmony Stratotone and similar Airline models of the fifties and early sixties.