Jerry Garcia's 'Wolf' guitar to auction for the Southern Poverty Law Center
Jerry Garcia's famous 'Wolf' guitar is set to return to auction this May, to raise funds for the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Garcia played the guitar throughout his career with the Grateful Dead and as a solo artist, and it later sold for a world record price in New York.
The custom electric guitar was originally hand-crafted for Garcia by luthier Doug Irwin, who recalled the moment he delivered the instrument:
"When I finished and first delivered the Wolf to Jerry in May, 1973, I was anxious to see his reaction. He was immediately quite pleased, but after playing it for about five minutes, Jerry asked me if I would build him another guitar.
"I asked him what he would Iike in the next guitar; he told me that I already knew what he liked in a guitar, that I should make it the way I thought best, not to worry about how much it cost, just "don't hold back.” Oh, yes! My kind of job!"
Wolf made its debut in 1973 during a Grateful Dead concert for the Hell's Angels, and Garcia then played extensively on stage and in the studio for the next 20 years – everywhere from San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom to the Pyramids of Egypt – before retiring it in 1993 at the Oakland Coliseum.
According to Guernsey's, "the iconic appearance of this unique instrument and its role, not only in the rich early stages of Jerry Garcia’s career, but also in the history of modern guitar craftsmanship, have made Wolf one of the most treasured guitars in the music world."
Following Garcia's death in 1995, the iconic instrument hit the auction block at Guernsey's in 2002, where it sold to an anonymous collector for almost $1 million, making it the world's most expensive guitar.
Having remained the same private collection ever since, the guitar will now be sold at auction once more, with all proceeds set to benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center and its continuing fight against racism and hate groups.
"I’ve been a fan of The Dead since I was a kid, and playing this iconic guitar over the past 15 years has been a privilege," said the present owner.
"But the time is right for Wolf to do some good. My wife and I have long supported the efforts of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and if ever we needed the SPLC, we sure do need them now."
The guitar will be sold during a special event in New York, during which famous musicians will have the chance to play the guitar before it hits the auction block.
The Guernsey's sale takes place at the Brooklyn Bowl on May 31.