Tag Archive | January 15th

Johnny Ramone’s Mosrite Guitar Goes Up for Auction

Johnny Ramones Guitar
Pictured: Johnny Ramone’s Personally-Owned and Stage-Used 1965 Mosrite Ventures V1 Guitar

Johnny Ramone’s Mosrite Guitar will be featured at a live auction event by Boston, MA based RR Auction this month. The personally-owned and used red 1965 Mosrite Ventures V1 guitar is signed on the body in black felt tip, “Best always, Johnny Ramone, 5/22/90.”

The six-string guitar features several modifications Ramone made to make the guitar fit his sound and style, the most significant being the replacement of the tremolo system with a stop bar tailpiece and installation of a DiMarzio FS-1 bridge pickup, as well as a tortoiseshell pickguard. Included in the sale, is the original hardshell case.

This is a rare instrument in its own right, and the only red guitar or Ventures Model 1 that Ramone owned; it was in his possession for at least seven years, from circa 1982–83 until he sold it in 1990; the first photographic evidence of Ramone playing the guitar comes from a show at the Eagle’s Hippodrome in Seattle on May 5, 1983. Johnny most often used this guitar for TV appearances and it can be seen up-close during a 1988 performance on MTV.

In 1990, Ramone sold this guitar to friend and former Ramones band driver Gene Frawley, signing and dating it on the occasion. A subsequent owner later personally confirmed the ownership details with Ramone, who acknowledged that he owned and used the guitar throughout the 1980s before selling it to Frawley.

“This is one of just nine Mosrite guitars owned by Ramone known to exist — an exceedingly rare and historically important piece of music history,” says Bobby Livingston, Exec VP at RR Auction.

Johnny Ramone was a founding member of the seminal punk band that broke onto the New York music scene in 1974. Johnny was known for his fast, high-energy guitar playing. His style almost exclusively consisted of rapid down strokes and bar chord shapes. This unique playing style and buzz saw-like sound of Johnny’s guitar parts was highly influential on many early punk rock guitarists and keeps him listed on numerous top lists of the greatest guitar players. Johnny Ramone died in his Los Angeles home on September 15, 2004 at the age of 55 after a five-year battle with prostate cancer.

The Johnny Ramone guitar will be part of a special live auction event, featuring nearly 150 items, that will take place on January 22nd, 2015 at RR Auction’s Boston Gallery, but Online Bidding begins January 15th, More details can be found online at RR Auction Dot Com.

Remembering Harry Nilsson on his Birthday

Harry Nilsson Grave Stone

The late, great singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson was born on this day, June 15th, in 1941. I recently watched the unbelievably well-made documentary, Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)? which is now available on DVD via Netflix.

I’m a huge fan of Nilsson’s music, as he reached the height of his popularity in the sixties and seventies, when I was growing up, so I thought I knew a lot about the guy. But Who is Harry Nilsson? gave me quite a schooling on the details of Nilsson’s life and career that I couldn’t have imagined.

This insightful documentary goes way back to his childhood, his family life, his early career writing songs for others that grew into his own recording career as a solo artist, his film soundtrack projects, personal friendships with other songwriters and musicians (Nilsson was a favorite artist of all four Beatles and he maintained close friendships with John Lennon and Ringo Starr until his death) and a wildly in-depth overview of his recording process via interviews with those he worked closely with (the interviews with producer Richard Perry alone are worth the time it takes to watch the film).

Of course, it’s not like you don’t know how the story is going to end. A well-covered topic in Who Is Harry Nilsson? is the artist’s ridiculously indulgent and debauched Rock Star Lifestyle, which lead directly to his early death at age 52 – a tragic waste of an extraordinary and irreplaceable talent.

I was entirely captivated, entertained and profoundly moved by the life story of Harry Nilsson, who was extremely respected for his talent and considered by his peers to be the greatest American singer of his generation. There is no doubt that his influence is vast and deeply felt even today. Harry Nilsson died on January 15th, 1994 from heart failure brought on by a lifetime of alcoholism and hard drug abuse. If he were still alive, he would be celebrating his Birthday today. Happy Birthday, Harry, we still miss you.