Thursday, January 28, 2016

Johnny H and the Henchmen aka Jesse Haemmerle - The Original Hollowbody V Acoustic Guitar

Johnny H publicity photo from Lordize Records
The first thing I noticed was the guitar. That is one Unique Guitar! The caption under the picture said “Johnny H and His Henchmen.”  


He and his band had a couple of Doo Wop hits in the mid 1960's called I Wish I Really Knew and Baby Good-bye. It was on a New York label called Lordize Records.  

He has posted 19 other  recordings on his myspace page, Most are  covers of popular hit songs of the 1950’s and ‘60’s. But what is really amazing, besides that guitar, is his story.

Check out the headstock cover
Jesse Haemmerle had been using the name Johnny H as the leader for his band. But he had learned from three family members that his real birth name was Presley. His legal father obtained his birth certificate and it showed his birthday to be January 8th of 1935 and his birthplace was Tupelo Mississippi.

Coincidentally Elvis Aaron Presley was born on that same day, January 8th of 1935 and his birthplace was  also in Tupelo, Mississippi. It is said that Elvis had a twin brother named Jesse, who was declared dead at birth. This baby was named Jesse Garon Presley. This is something that haunted both men throughout their lives.

Jesse says that he was able to meet Elvis in 1964. He tells the story about that time. Elvis rarely talked to anyone about his “stillborn” brother, but on that afternoon when they met, the floodgates opened up and that's all both men talked about for hours.

Jesse and brother Richie
Was he actually Elvis Presley's twin brother? I do not know if that mystery will ever be solved.

In addition to music Jesse Haemmerle did some film work with Frankie Avalon, he was a contestant on several TV game shows and New York city TV show where he played a singing cop.

He was in several other films in the 1970’s and ‘80’s. Through these connections he met up with a lot of other famous people including Frank Sinatra and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

For much of his life Haemmerle has kept busy as a body builder.


He was  a member of the Federation of Arm Wrestlers as participant as well as a referee.

In 1969 he created and constructed the first opposing grips arm wrestling table.

I have searched in vain to discover more information about his rather bizarre V-shaped guitar. Its rocket-shape is reminiscent of the “space age” era of the early 1960’s, when we were fascinated with rockets and being the first man on the moon.

His brother, standing behind Johnny H, has a Kay Stratotone with an unusual cover over the headstock

The V shaped wings and pointed headstock seem to be attached to the guitar more than being a part of it.

Jesse and Richie Haemmerle - This is the guitar before the wings and headstock were added.
When we see it in it’s original form, judging by the headstock, it may possibly be a Martin with a cover on its top. In any event it is a wild and unique guitar.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Trainwrecks and Treasures

From time to time, I find pictures of guitars and ask to myself, "What the heck was he thinking? That guitar is a complete trainwreck."

And this is not to disparage the wonderful amplifiers that Ken Fisher built.

But then I see something that restores my hope in humanity.

 So I am sharing my stash of Trainwrecks and Treasures. Let me know if you agree with me that some of these guitar are hot and some or not.

Obviously no one told this guy that SRV's tone was all in his fingers.

What a waste of wood and parts!!!

I don't think even Dan Erlewine could undo this ghastly repair
What was this guy thinking!  It is a nylon string guitar!!!
This is one of Gibson's first electric guitars; The ES-300. I'm glad they went with a different pickup concept.
This bass was hand built by East German luthier Herbert Todt. I give it a big blistered thumbs up! He builds wonderful guitars and basses.
I found this bass on a South Korean wholesale guitar page called Guitar Man. Someone certainly did some exquisite carving!
This Martin was offered by Elderly Instruments. It won the ugliest pick guard contest. It is actually a Martin D-41 Porter Wagoner Model.
This guy actually plays his homemade guitar with the driftwood neck at a blues club in Mississippi
One of these instruments comes with a collar that says, "If found, return Fluffy to Mrs. Frisby at 61 Dover Street."
This is definitely not a guitar for vegans!

Provenance adds value to old instruments and this guitar sure has a lot of it since it was Elvis' first guitar that his mother bought him.
Believe it or not, this was a very unusual and all around nice guitar.

The above Ovation Breadwinner always puts me in mind of Adrian Legg's Bill Poplett Ergonomic guitar
This is a G# Guitar. The coolest thing to come out of Norway since Hagstrom Guitars. I'm adding this to my article about Electric Travel Guitars.

This is a young Pat Methany playing an Alembic Whateverdude model.  I have no idea what those buttons are for.
This is just plain pitiful.
This is a Babes Ella bass made by an Austrian company in 2007. Correct me if I am wrong, but the pickguard looks like ladies underwear.
This guitar is made by a California company called Kaurer. It is called a Daylight Deluxe. I like it!
This was made in Australia by a sculptor. It is one bizarre guitar!
An Australian Guitar Adventure. A "Stereo" acoustic by Paul Kinney. G'day Mate! Seriously this guy makes some very unusual instruments. Pat Methany owns one.
This is an "Artist" model by Pheo guitars, You can tell by the paintbrush. I do not think Bob Ross did the artwork on the body since there are no happy little clouds.
Here is another model by Pheo guitars called The Baby Head. Very Strange Indeed!
This is a Bilt Revelator that was made by Bilt Guitars of Des Moines, Iowa. It brings to mind the second version of the Fender Marauder, which only existed as a prototype.
♫ ♪ On a tour of one night stands, my suitcase-guitar in hand...♫ This begs the question, does it come with a case?




Monday, January 18, 2016

Glenn Frey, The Eagles Vocalist, Songwriter and Guitarist Dead At Age 67

Glenn Frey
Today we received the shocking news that Glenn Frey, a founding member of The Eagles has died of numerous health issues. He was only 67.

The Eagles
Frey sang lead vocals on such songs as Take It Easy, Peaceful Easy Feeling, Tequila Sunrise, Already Gone, Desparado, New Kid In Town and Heartache Tonight.



The Heat is On
After the band broke up in 1980 he went on to record Smuggler’s Blues, The Heat is On, You Belong to the City and other popular songs.

It was during this era tha Frey went on to "clean up his act" and get in shape by building his body and vigorously working out. He toned up and was featured in a gym campaign commercial and Rolling Stone magazine did an a pictorial article about him





Miami Vice
Due to his solo music he went on to act in the police drama Miami Vice. That show that used Smuggler’s Blues as a theme song as well as several of his other songs.





Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction
Frey won six Grammy Awards and five American Music Awards. Collectively, the Eagles have sold over 120 million albums and were Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees.


Ronstadt and Back-up Band
Frey joined the Eagles in 1971 after being in Linda Ronstadts back up band with Don Henley, Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon.



The Eagles - 1971


Frey played guitar and piano during his tenure with  The Eagles.





The Eagles - 1994
After the band reunited in 1994 he became the spokesman for the group, since, in his own words, he and Henley had written most of their songs.



The Eagles - 2008


The group later went on another world tour in 2008.

After Hours
In 2012 he release his first solo album since 1994 and it was called After Hours. This album features him performing pop standards of the 1940’s through the 1960’s.

In 2013 a documentary was produced called History of the Eagles.





Old Black


During his early days with The Eagles Frey was very fond of a 1956 Les Paul Junior that he got from Jackson Browne. The guitar was painted black and and extra P90 pickup was added to the neck position. Frey named this guitar “Old Black.”





ES-330 - Getty Images


Frey also played a tobacco burst Gibson ES-330 TD which was probably a mid 1960’s model. This is the thin hollow-body model with twin P90 pickups.




He also used a Gibson ES-335 TD.


He played these guitars through an early narrow panel tweed Fender Deluxe amplifier which was made no later than 1960, since that was the last year this style was manufactured. Although on the road in the early days he also used a Ferder Deluxe Reverb that was miked.





Frey with Gibson SG

Frey also owned and played a vintage Gibson Firebird V, a Gibson SG and a 1953 Fender Telecaster. Occasionally he played a 1982 Gibson Moderne Heritage Korina Electric. Gibson only produced 143 of these guitar.







With Takamine EF360S
During the Eagles 1994 comeback tour Frey played a Takamine EF360S. He approached the Takamine company and requested they build him an updated version.








Takamine EF360GF
Out of this, Takamine Guitars produced the Glenn Frey Signature model EF360FG. This non-cutaway guitar came with a solid wood top and solid rosewood back and sides and Frey's initials "GF" in the headstock..







Takamine EF381C - 12 String
Frey also usd a black Takamine EF381C 12 string acoustic electric cut-away guitar.



Glenn Frey model Rickenbacker 230

In the studio, Frey used Martin 6 and 12 string guitars. He played several other electric guitars including an Epiphone Casino and a Rickenbacker 230.

Here is a link to a very interesting article on Glenn Frey from Rolling Stone Magazine.