A Jerry Garcia Gift from the Past Keeps on Giving: Rare Garcia Guitar on eBay

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In 1980 Jerry Garcia, ranked 13th in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time", gifted an Alembic guitar, Lucky #13, to Matthew Kelly (Kingfish, Ratdog, Grateful Dead). Kelly “pays it forward” by donating the guitar to Amicus Foundation to raise money for charity work in Thailand. This rare Jerry Garcia guitar, Lucky #13, is now on eBay until 19:00 PDT June 12, 2011.

Matthew Kelly, Bill Cutler & Jerry Garcia in the studio listening back to first takes of “Riding High” from Kelly’s solo LP “A Wing & A Prayer”

Matthew Kelly, Bill Cutler & Jerry Garcia in the studio listening back to first takes of “Riding High” from Kelly’s solo LP “A Wing & A Prayer”

I spotted Jerry over in the far corner with his guitar in hand and all ready to swing into action.

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Amicus Foundation is auctioning a rare Jerry Garcia guitar, Alembic #13, on eBay until 19:00 PDT June 12, 2011.

In 1980 Jerry Garcia, ranked 13th in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time", gifted an Alembic guitar, Lucky #13, to Matthew Kelly (Kingfish, Ratdog, Grateful Dead). Kelly “pays it forward” by donating the guitar to Amicus Foundation to raise money for charity work in Thailand. This rare Jerry Garcia guitar, Lucky #13, is now on eBay until 19:00 PDT June 12, 2011.

Handcrafted in 1972 for Jerry Garcia by the guitar building masters of Alembic: Doug Irwin, Ron Wickersham, Rick Turner, and Frank Fuller. Lucky #13 is believed to have been played on a Jerry Garcia solo project according to a signed Letter of Authentication by Bob Weir and possibly used on Bobby Weir’s Ace album.

It is well known that Jerry Garcia had very few guitars when compared to other players of his caliber. Alembic guitars are rare, especially from 1972, their first year of handcrafting guitars and basses. Only four were custom made for Jerry. According to Alembic's records for 1972, Alembic #3, #6, #13 & #25 were made for Jerry Garcia. Alembic #3 is now back at Alembic. Alembic #6 was damaged and traded in. Alembic #25, Ramrod's Eagle, was auctioned in 2007. That leaves Lucky #13 as a unique opportunity for Grateful Dead fans. It is very rare for a guitar of this quality to come up for auction.

Lucky #13 stayed in Jerry's personal collection from 1972 until 1980. During this time Kelly was recording his first solo LP in Bob Weir's studio. Kelly remembers, "The real highlight of making 'A Wing and a Prayer' LP came about when to my surprise, upon entering the studio one day, I spotted Jerry over in the far corner with his guitar in hand and all ready to swing into action. It was a surprise because no one knew that Jerry would be coming, let alone playing on this LP, but there he was, all set up and prepared to lay down some tracks on my album".

In 1980, Kelly was putting on the final touches on his solo LP at Bobby Weir's studio and it was at this time that Jerry dropped by again, liked what he heard and offered to be the producer of the album. They spent 3 or 4 days and nights working on all the songs. It was during these sessions that Jerry graciously offered the Alembic Lucky #13 to Matthew as a gift. The guitar had been "living" in Weir's studio since 1972 when Jerry was working on one of his first solo albums and continued to live there until Kelly quit Bob Weir's Ratdog in 1998. Matthew kept the guitar in its guitar case until very recently.

Although Matthew was extremely grateful for such a priceless gift, it wasn't until many years later that he became fully aware of the significance of this "Jewel of great price". It was at this point that he realized, “It was my duty and responsibility to 'pay it forward’ by donating Lucky #13 to Amicus (Matthew Kelly Cofounder, Bob Weir Advisory Board)”. Virtually all the proceeds from the winning bid will go towards assisting impoverished villages and hill tribe refugees along the Thai/Burmese border.

Lucky #13 is steeped in Grateful Dead history and has a unique provenance. Like all guitars made by Alembic, no one person is responsible. The likely team responsible for its creation includes Doug Irwin, Ron Wickersham, Rick Turner, and Frank Fuller. Doug Irwin was working at Alembic, learning his luthier skills while contributing to the creation of Lucky #13 and Alembic #25. Alembic #25 evolved into what is now known as Eagle. Jerry gave Eagle to Ramrod after playing it for only a couple of years. In 2007, Ramrod’s son auctioned Eagle for $186,000. Lucky #13 could go for more or it could go for less, nobody knows until the virtual eBay hammer falls 19:00 PDT June 12, 2011.

Also included in the auction is a 1950s vintage Fender Harvard amp used by Jerry Garcia as one of his backstage warmup amps.

Anyone interested in learning more about Lucky #13 visit http://www.jerrygarciaguitar.com. To view the eBay auction go to http://cgi.ebay.com/300559286552

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Todd Robbins

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