Guitars From Kurt Cobain, Eric Clapton and Eddie Van Halen Are Headed to Auction

Also in the mix: cars owned by Elvis and Slash

October 13, 2023 6:25 pm
Guitars from Eric Clapton and Kurt Cobain
Eric Clapton's Fool guitar (L) and Kurt Cobain's Skystang I guitar are displayed at the media preview for Julien's "Played, worn, torn rock'n'roll iconic guitars and memorabilia" auction.
VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

Some rock and roll auctions zero in on memorabilia associated with a particular artist, such as a recently concluded Beatles-centric event. Others take a broader approach; in 2008, the Christie’s auction Punk/Rock abounded with artifacts from the careers of Lou Reed, Television and the Sex Pistols. And then there’s the auction house Julien’s, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary with an auction that features a lineup that would put Coachella’s to shame.

The name of the auction is Played, Worn, & Torn: Rock ‘n’ Roll Iconic Guitars and Memorabilia. Among the items made available for sale are guitars played by the likes of Kurt Cobain, Slash, Eric Clapton and Eddie Van Halen. Also heading for sale are items ranging from Elvis Presley’s car to Dolly Parton’s capes. The event is taking place over three days, with an in-person component at the Hard Rock Cafe Nashville and an online component as well.

Highlights include Eric Clapton’s “Fool” guitar, played during his time in Cream, and the “Skystang 1” guitar Kurt Cobain played while on Nirvana’s final U.S. tour. There’s also an acoustic guitar Johnny Cash performed with late in his career and a 1967 Fender Telecaster that Metallica’s Kirk Hammett often used in the studio.

A few of the guitars involved in the auction will be raising money for a good cause as well. As he’s done in the past with an auction at Julien’s, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay is donating part of the proceeds from the sale of both the Clapton and Cobain guitars to Kicking the Stigma, an initiative from the Colts and Irsay’s family with the goal of “[raising] awareness about mental health and [removing] the stigma often associated with mental health disorders.”

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As mentioned earlier, high-profile guitars aren’t the only items being sold; Elvis Presley’s 1977 Lincoln Continental Mark V and Slash’s 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray are also in the mix for November’s events. Throw in a smashed Pete Townshend guitar, hand-written Prince lyrics and John Lennon’s old jukebox and you have the makings of an excellent museum here. All of which suggests that some deep-pocketed rock fans are going to be very happy when the middle of November rolls around.

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