Tom Petty’s personally owned 1965 Gibson SG cherry electric guitar and iconic top hat, which he played and wore during his smash tour with Bob Dylan, make their auction debut July 21, 2018 at Heritage Auctions. The guitar is the first instrument owned by Petty to be offered at auction since the singer/songwriter’s death last year and is estimated to bring more than $300,000.
Offered together as one lot, the guitar and top hat lead a stellar collection of important stage-worn clothing from the private collection of Petty’s close, personal friend, Norman Harris, owner of Los Angeles’ famous Norman’s Rare Guitars. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to support Petty’s favorite charities: The Midnight Mission and The Tazzy Animal Rescue Fund.
“Tom and I were very good friends for over 40 years, from the very beginning of The Heartbreakers in Gainesville, Florida, all the way to the Traveling Wilburys,” Harris said. “We shared a love of guitars, but it was his friendship that meant the most.”
At age 69, Harris said it is time to open his collection to give Petty’s fans the opportunity to own a piece of the star’s groundbreaking career. Petty remains one of the bestselling music artists of all time with 80 million records sold. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
The early 1965 Gibson SG Electric Guitar, serial number 275535, has a cherry finish. Its Pearloid inlay on the face of the headstock is a precise match to photos from dozens of live performances. Petty favored the piece when he and the Heartbreakers were a part of Bob Dylan’s 1987 “True Confessions Tour.” The instrument has been signed “Tom Petty / ’88”.
Harris originally sold Petty the 1965 Gibson SG decades ago, but after Petty wrote the introduction to Harris’ book Norman’s Rare Guitars - 30 Years of Collecting Guitars, Petty fell in love with a rare Rose Morris guitar (a Rickenbacker Double Bound 360) featured in the book. Petty badly wanted to own the Rickenbacker, so Harris gave it to Petty in exchange for the Gibson and a handpicked collection of stage-worn clothing. Part of the deal included a special concert for The Midnight Mission, a premier homeless shelter in downtown Los Angeles. MusiCares named Petty its 2017 Person of the Year for his work with the homeless, and the clothing in the auction were worn during these charity concerts.
The collection included Petty’s signature top hat, which was custom-made and worn on tour as well as in two Traveling Wilburys music videos (“Handle With Care” and “End of the Line”). Petty also wore the hat during a 1989 MTV news segment in which the remaining Wilburys reflected on the death of bandmate Roy Orbison. Petty’s signature is inside the hat.
The collection also includes a personally owned and signed 1963 White Gibson SG junior electric guitar, which Petty played during rehearsals for his 2012 world tour; a stage-worn cavalry jacket, worn on stage during the tour for his 2000 album with the Heartbreakers, Echo; Petty’s royal blue custom jacket, custom-made and stage worn during his 1991 European tour; the stage-worn western jacket, Petty wore during his 1991 tour and accompanied by a handwritten note from Petty describing the coat; and a silk brocade stage worn black dragon-print jacket.
Rock icon Tom Petty’s personally owned and stage played 1965 Gibson SG Electric Guitar highlights more than 550 lots in Heritage Auctions’ Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Auction, July 21 in Dallas and on HA.com.