1922 L1 Gibson Guitar Played By Zappa Parsons Page GTOs
Taken from Miss P’s ebay page… click the picture to see where you can bid!
When I was nineteen years old, I became a Flying Burrito Sister, a sidekick, pal and confidante to Gram Parsons, and a part time girlfriend to his partner, Chris Hillman. I spent a lot of time at ‘Burrito Manor’ in Nichols Canyon, dreaming of my own country-singing career. I already had my all-girl shock rock group, Girls Together Outrageously (or the GTOs —founded by Frank Zappa, our mentor), but since Gram had turned me on to the likes of Merle Haggard, George Jones and Waylon Jennings, my musical tastes had broadened considerably.
From the time I was a tot, I had been hearing about my Aunt Mabel’s 1922 L1 Gibson, the beloved guitar she’d discovered in a pawnshop in Pinsonfork, Kentucky in the mid-thirties. Mabel Virginia Miller finally caught a hubby late in life, a preacher called R.D. Brown, and every Sunday morning she warbled and played her Gibson for his devoted flock. She brought the guitar with her when she visited my aunties in L.A. one summer, announcing that she had only ever played songs for the Lord on it, before launching into ‘What a friend We Have in Jesus,’ accompanied by aunties Edna, Mary and Jewel in perfect sisterly harmony.
Through the years, I secretly coveted the Miller heirloom with the fading gold MVM decals and ‘The Gibson’ inlayed into the neck. I imagined strumming along with Chris and Gram, sounding a bit like Linda Ronstadt in her Stone Pony days.
It was 1969, and it had been several years since my bigger-than-life, drop-dead-handsome daddy, O.C. Miller had been back home. His adoring older sister, Mabel, longed desperately to see him, so I hatched a plan: I’d buy his airline ticket if he could bring the Gibson back with him. For little ME. Since Uncle R.D. had retired, the guitar wasn’t played as often, so Aunt Mabel agreed, and a few weeks later, I held the precious instrument in my arms. I promised her I would also sing to Jesus, which I have been doing ever since.
But as divine as the Gibson was, I wasn’t a good music student. Too busy gallivanting about the Sunset Strip, I let my lovers and friends play it instead. And play it they did! I took it with me everywhere, showing off the Miller family heirloom to all and sundry. It was a magnet for musicians, who would reverently take it from its ancient original case like it was made of pure gold.
It charmed Gram Parsons, and he played it quite a bit, Chris Hillman too. In fact, all the Flying Burrito Brothers took turns, loving its sweet, sweet sound. Little Feat’s Lowell George, my dear pal and co-producer of the GTOs album, ‘Permanent Damage,’ spent an entire evening strumming it and serenading me into a swoon. Frank Zappa himself took a shine to the antique instrument and tweedled on it more than once. I sat between Jimmy Page and Robert Plant at my Hollywood apartment on Alfred Street while they passed it back and forth, playing the blues deep into the night. Jimmy wanted it for himself and offered me $2500, which was a fortune at the time, but I still thought I might miraculously turn into a country songbird some fine day. I did write a couple of GTOs songs on it, and a weepy ballad for Mr. Page called ‘Come In from the Storm, Come Inside.’ Woe was me and my Led Zep broken heart. Sigh.
Waylon Jennings strummed a tune or two, and Keith Moon saw it in the corner of my guesthouse at the Zappa’s and surprisingly thrashed away on it. When I hooked up with the young actor Don Johnson, (also a wonderful musician) he spent many nights playing his original tunes on it.
Through the years, I have placed the Gibson in the arms of many of my favorite musicians. My ex-husband, Michael Des Barres has played it countless times. Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols was our roommate, and gave our son Nick a few guitar lessons on it. One evening, the late Doug Feiger of the Knack played a dozen Beatle classics for me. Many talented fingers have plucked these strings. Ryan Adams was enthralled with it and crooned several of his new songs for me at the Sunset Marquis Hotel. My gifted girlfriend Lucinda Williams recently came by and played my beloved Gibson, entertaining a group of pals, enjoying every strum.
Countless amazingly talented people have played this divine guitar, and I want to share it with someone who will appreciate its beauty, sweet sound, and unique incredible history. I want someone to own it who understands the value of vibes and energy. I will include a first edition of my first book, ‘I’m With the Band,’ and a feather boa I wore in the GTOs! It comes with original pick guard, and case, and the smell is ancient! The original sticker is still inside the center of this divine instrument as well…unfortunately no photographs. I never carried a camera around in those days like we do now. I was just living the rock and roll dream, and still am. I have been asked why I am selling this beauty. I don’t play and I want someone special to make it sing. And I’d like to help out my son who lives in Tokyo, the most expensive city in the world! XXX