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Last Updated: Friday, 25 June, 2004, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK
Clapton's guitar smashes record
Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton sold the guitars for his Crossroads addiction clinic
A treasured guitar owned by Eric Clapton, called Blackie, has fetched a record $959,500 (526,000) at auction.

The Fender Stratocaster was expected to reach $150,000 (83,000), but a bidding war broke out at Christie's in New York on Thursday, pushing the price up.

The guitar, first used in 1973, was bought by US chain The Guitar Center.

The previous record price for a guitar was in 1999 when a bidder paid $497,500 (330,000) for Clapton's 1956 Fender Stratocaster, Brownie.

Proceeds from Thursday's sale will benefit Clapton's Crossroads addiction clinic.


Speaking after the auction, Clapton said: "I am thrilled at the result which is going to be of enormous help to us in achieving our long-term aims at the centre."

The guitar made its first appearance in 1973
The Guitar Center also bought Clapton's 1964 cherry-red Gibson ES-335 for $847,500 (465,000) - more than 10 times its $80,000 (43,900) estimate.

Also exceeding expectations was the star's 1939 CF Martin & Co acoustic guitar that Clapton played during his MTV Unplugged appearance in 1992, which sold for $791,500 (434,400).

The sale, which also included guitars from Brian May, BB King and Pete Townshend, raised more than $7.4m (4m) in total.

Clapton first played Blackie in public in 1973 at a concert organised by his friend Pete Townshend to help him overcome his heroin addiction.

Guitar legend Clapton made Blackie from a number of different Stratocasters originally bought in Nashville, Tennessee.

"I feel that that guitar has become part of me," said Clapton.

He decided to "retire" Blackie when it began wearing out in 1991.


"It is still playable," he said. "It's immensely playable, but I suppose I was concerned that I was probably doing it more harm than good.

"I had so much affection for the guitar that I didn't want to work it any more really. I think it was time to retire it, because it was getting thin."

But he added: "I have to put it into perspective. I don't see Blackie all that often. My working relationship with that guitar was exclusively and extensively through the '70s and early '80s."

The guitar made its first appearance at the Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park, London, at a gig set up by The Who's Pete Townshend.

One of the last occasions when Blackie was seen in public was in a 1990 TV commercial for Honda Japan when, at the request of the company, Clapton used Blackie to record a new guitar solo on the song Bad Love.

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