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Duane Allman's 'Layla' guitar sells for $1million at auction

Duane Allman with his Gibson guitar in 1969 © Getty

The guitar Duane Allman played on the classic Derek and the Dominos song ‘Layla’ has sold for a massive $1million (£820,000) under the hammer.

The 1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop was Allman’s main guitar during the first two years of the Allman Brothers Band and was played on their 1969 self-titled debut album and 1970 follow-up ‘Idlewild South’.

Allman referred to the instrument as “The Studio Guitar” and just a few weeks after the ‘Layla’ sessions with Eric Clapton he swapped it for a Cherry Sunburst Les Paul.

Auctioneers Gotta Have Rock and Roll said on their website: “Duane, fresh off recording “Layla” was, as usual, playing his ’57 Goldtop. The opening band was a local group called the Stone Balloon, whose guitarist, Rick Stine, was playing a 1959 cherry sunburst Les Paul, which Duane was fond of.

“While making ‘Layla’ he had fallen in love with Clapton’s cherry sunburst. Wanting one of his own, Duane offered to swap Les Pauls with Rick. When Rick hesitated, Allman upped the stakes, throwing in $200 and one of his regular Marshall 50 heads. Rick agreed and the deal was finalised.”

In the years after Allman’s untimely death in October 1971, the guitar changed hands three times before it was purchased by its now-previous owner in 1977.

The guitar had been on display at the Allman Brothers’ Big House museum in Macon, Georgia and artists including Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Blackberry Smoke’s Charlie Starr and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons had played it recently.  

Gotta Have Rock and Roll note that The Rolling Stones had hoped to loan it for their show at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, however it coincided with the auction.

Rolling Stone reports that the anonymous buyer has agreed to loan out the guitar to the Big House museum for several months year.

Of course, Duane Allman’s instrument isn’t the first guitar to fetch seven figures at auction this year. David Gilmour’s fabled Black Strat sold for a record-breaking $3,975,000 (£3,134,000) under the hammer in June at the David Gilmour Guitar Collection auction at Christie’s in New York.

Gilmour’s 1954 White Fender Stratocaster #0001 also sold for $1,815,000 and his Martin D-35 acoustic guitar fetched $1,095,000.

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