Interview with Gary Guitar
What’s the purpose of your project?
The purpose of the 1 Lucky Fan project with the Bob Marley Guitar Giveaway and the Billion Dollar Charity Challenge is to give back and to extend Bob Marley’s humanitarian efforts when he was still alive.
How did you get the idea of this project?
During a business conversation, I heard about an individual who had a project where a person would submit a merit-based letter on why a 600 thousand dollar house be given to them. I think people had to pay five hundred dollars with their letter. A percentage of the funds received were donated to a charity. I decided this was a fantastic idea. I thought to myself on how could I use this idea and the type of project where I can give back like this person did. I thought of my rarest guitars and if I go to an auction with them, a private collector will most likely put the guitars in a basement as part of their collection. Then, the guitars will be lost from the pubic eye. Instead, they can go to a museum or do what I am doing now with this project where it will be passed on to the most deserving person and/or their charity. I want to see that the guitars from Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix and Michael Jackson be put to great use. Being able to help our fellowmen achieve their goals and dreams is what I believe in and I think resonates with what these legends believed in when they were still alive.
Where and how did you meet Bob Marley?
I first met him at Center Sportif in Montreal, Quebec back in May 4, 1976. It was his first concert in Canada called Rastaman Vibration. Due to a family friend who was in the music industry, Terry David Mulligan, I had access backstage for local major concerts. Anyway, I was backstage and somebody told me that Bob’s guitar was not in tuned. I offered to fix it right before the show started. After I customized the sound of the guitar for Bob, he was going to put a 100 dollar bill in my shirt pocket and I said to Bob, “Keep it and buy yourself some personality.” Bob started laughing and everybody else in the room was quiet and seemed shocked. From then on, him and I became good friends. Henceforth, the name Gary Guitar because of Bob.
What’s the story of the Bob Marley’s guitar? How did you end up with it?
I got to know Bob over a period of time. I met him about 5 to 6 times before his last gig on November 21, 1979 at the Vancouver Coliseum. There was this really cool guitar in his dressing room. It was the double cutaway custom Washburn Hawk in beautiful natural exotic woods. With this model I could play left-handed and right-handed as I am ambidextrous. Bob saw that I really took to the guitar. At this point, he had been calling me Gary Guitar. We became great friends ever since we first met few years before. He was fascinated how I could play on the guitar. I miss Bob till this day. We really hit it off from our first meeting. As a result, I ended up with his guitar of which at the time I didn’t understand why as I never asked for it. Bob just looked at me and said, “You will understand some day.” I only found out the answer many years after his death from Junior Marvin, the lead guitarist of Bob’s band as you know. He was there in the same room when Bob gave me his guitar. He filled me in with what was kind of going on at the time before Bob died. He said that when Bob gave me the guitar he was actually diagnosed with some form of cancer. This was to be his last tour. And, I never saw him again. I heard, like everyone else, that he passed away. I was shocked and very saddened. That was the first time I received from someone who became a legend and most of all a true friend. I think he gave me the guitar out of the kindness of his heart, appreciated our friendship, and that we would never see each other again. Later on, I also found out that Bob’s cancer started out as a form of melanoma. Over the years, I have had interesting talks with amazing people like Rudy Schlacher, the owner of Washburn Guitars, about the Bob Marley guitar that has put many smiles on my face.
What do people expect from you after this project?
I would like to accomplish my charitable endeavours with the Jimi Hendrix Foundation, which is run by Joe Rosignolo in San Diego, California. The foundation is a registered charity started by Jimi’s dad. The goal is to better and rebuild the foundation in order to help more at-risk youths from guns, drugs, and gangs. I believe in music therapy and music programs will be provided to kids for free. As a former professional musician, band manager, and an entertainment agency owner, my knowledge and experience in the industry would benefit the foundation – that is why the Jimi Hendrix Family Foundation here in Canada as well.