Way back in 1971 I was a very young teenager, the Beatles had broken up on April 10th the year before I heard the news late at night laying in my bed listening to Tony Prince on Radio Luxembourg. The demise of the Beatles threw me into a dilemma, they were the the band that I had listened to exclusively since being 6yr old, I remember thinking “now what”?
Just at this time my copy of the Melody Maker arrived, the front cover was sporting a fantastic photograph of Ritchie Blackmore playing his 1961 Gibson ES-335. Deep Purple immediately became the center of my attention, little did I know at the time, Ritchie had retired the Gibson in favor of a Fender Strat after seeing Jim Hendrix at a show in London, Ritchie never went back to Gibson guitars again. It’s incredible to realize that this 335 was used for all of Ritchie’s blistering guitar solos up to & including 1970s “Child In Time”.
Ritchie Playing in 1970 – YouTube
History of the ES-335
Ritchie purchased this guitar in the early 1960s, there is a color image of him playing the 335 at a gig in Germany during 1965/6, it was his main guitar at the time & remained so through the formation of Purple right up to the end of 1970.
The guitar is 99% original, the PAF pickups have been in the guitar undisturbed since new, all of the electrics are original, the guitar was not equipped with a Bigsby when it left the Gibson plant but had been fitted prior to Ritchies acquisition. He also replaced the original black control knobs with gold colored variants, the case is original & still carries the Deep Purple stencils
There are some vintage BOAC (British Overseas Airways Company) ticket stubs in the case pocket along with original black & white photographs of Ritchie playing the guitar.
All in all a totally irreplaceable piece of Rock history! It’s quite something, 48 yrs ago my copy of the Melody Maker arrived on my doorstep with an image of Ritchie with the ES-335 & here we are today and I am actually holding & playing the very same guitar!