As the electric guitar enters its final years of life, the history of the instrument will be remembered by thousands of musicians and enthusiasts around the world.
On the eve of its 75th anniversary, CBS News has learned that electric guitar legend Johnny Mathis was among the first to play and play again.
The former bassist for The Beach Boys and The Beach Boyz, Mathis died in 2000, aged 69.
Mathis played the instrument until the early 1980s, when it was moved to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. Mathis left behind his guitar, a rare example from the first batch of electric guitar models manufactured in the late 1930s.
The museum has kept it there ever since.
The museum was not available for comment about Mathis’ guitar.
The band’s guitarist, John Bonham, has played it.
But Bonham says Mathis is the only electric guitar player in the history to play it with no strings, so it’s his guitar.
The guitar is in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum.
A spokesperson for the museum declined to comment on the guitar’s condition.
“When I played my first electric guitar I was 17 years old, and it was a beautiful guitar, and I didn’t know how it was going to turn out,” Mathis said in an interview with The Associated Press in 2016.
“It was going through a lot of ups and downs, and the time was right.”
Mathis, who played in The Beachboys, The Beach Band, The Beatles and The Who, is considered the greatest electric guitarist of all time, with two platinum albums and more than 200 Top 40 hits.
His career was built on a sound he called “the most original, purest, and most beautiful sound ever.”
“The best electric guitar of all times,” said The Beachcombers drummer Dave Davies.
“I know that I’m just not going to be able to come close to the sound of the best electric guitars of all-time, but that’s not a criticism.
It’s just a fact.”
A musician’s life begins with the instrument As Mathis played, he recorded a record with The Beachband, a group of fellow musicians who shared his enthusiasm for the instrument and its unique sound.
In 1979, Maths and two other band members moved to San Francisco from Los Angeles to start the Beachband.
They named it The Beachboyz, a nod to their musical heritage.
Maths was also instrumental in creating the song The Beach, written by The Beachbands drummer Dave Davis.
Mathys original guitar was later given to Davis by a former band member.
But the band’s recording career was quickly crushed by the AIDS crisis.
Davis was a single father, and Mathys first wife, Joanie, was a heroin addict.
Davis and Mathies daughter, Julie, moved to California, where they started a recording studio in the Bay Area.
Then in 1984, the Beach Boy’s longtime guitarist, Billy Beane, joined the band.
Bieber is credited with creating a style of music that is now known as rock and roll.
He said the music they recorded was “a little more raw and rough and more punk than we wanted it to be, but it still had a lot to do with rock.”
Biebers band also changed Mathys sound.
He began playing lead guitar in the band, but later moved to rhythm guitar and lead vocals, which he called the “soul” of the band that had made it into the charts.
The BeachBoyz went on to sell millions of albums and tour the world, but the Beach Boys’ reputation faded, with Mathis retiring in 1986.
Mathies death is the subject of an upcoming documentary.
He will be the last person to play the instrument, though, because he died in 2013 at age 73.
The Smithsonian National Mural Hall of Music in Washington D.c. has put up a plaque honoring Mathis.
As the electric instrument enters its last years of history, the story of the instruments will be studied and celebrated in many ways.
A plaque honoring Johnny Mathes will be placed at the Smithsonian Mural in Washington DC.
It will be an occasion for musicians and music fans to hear Mathis and to remember him for all the things he touched, the band he helped to build and the music he made.
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