This may well be the most desirable Fender Stratocaster on the planet, and for sure - 3rd most expensive Fender guitar ever sold (4th place in general). It's also happens to be a beat up mongrel assembled by Eric Clapton himself.
History Behind "Blackie" Edit
In 1970 Clapton found the Sho-Bud guitar shop in Nashville, Tennessee. He bought six 1950s Stratocasters for two or three hundred US dollars each. After giving one each to George Harrison, Pete Townshend and Steve Winwood. From remaining three he took a ’56 body, a ’57 neck, and the pickups from a third guitar, and made "Blackie", so named for its black finish.
"I took the pickups out of one, the scratchplate off another and the neck off another and I made my own guitar - a hybrid guitar that had all the best bits from all these Strats."
The job of Blackie's everyday maintainence falls to Lee Dickson, Eric's guitar tech since 1979. Accoring to him, Blackie has been refretted only once, and no modification were done except changing position switch and reparing a single pickup. Lee desribes Blackie's neck as well worn neck, very slim, thin neck profile.
"It was always a buzzy guitar - always tons of buzz problems - but that was due to the kind of stage setup that Eric used at the time and I suppose there weren't too many boffins about to go through the building all day isolating things. In America you could find the problems were being caused by a fridge up in the manager's office!"
Public appearance Edit
Blackie was first played live 13 January 1973 at the Rainbow Concert. Clapton would play Blackie for many years on and off stage. Finally, after a tour concert in Hartford in 1985, it was retired due to issues with the neck.
One of the last known occasions when Blackie was seen by the public was for a 1990 television commercial for the Japanese automobile firm Honda when, at the specific request of the company, Clapton used Blackie to record a new guitar solo on "Bad Love" in New York and was filmed for the commercial doing so. Blackie was also brought out on stage for one number during the Royal Albert Hall shows in 1991.
How is Blackie now?
"It's totally playable as it is; there's nothing wrong with it. It's kind of like an old car - there are plenty of new models coming out that have a similar spec, so why not buy a new one and keep the old one for Sunday outings or special occasions? That guitar has got years of playing left in it, but not as an everynight stand-up-and-give -it-some-wallop guitar."
In 1988 the Eric Clapton Stratocaster was released according to Clapton's specifications. He began playing his new signature model shortly after.
Clapton played "Blackie" almost exclusively on stage and in the studio from 1974-1985 recording hits such as "Cocaine", "I Shot The Sheriff", "Wonderful Tonight", "Further On Up The Road", "Lay Down Sally" and various live versions of "Layla" featured on several album covers and videos.