DALLAS – Tom Petty’s personally owned 1965 Gibson SG cherry electric guitar and iconic top hat — both famously used during his smash tour with Bob Dylan — make their auction debut July 21 at Heritage Auctions, with absentee and Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers. The guitar is the first instrument owned by Petty to be offered at auction since the singer/songwriter’s death last year and is estimated to bring more than $300,000.
Offered together as one lot, the guitar and top hat lead a stellar collection of important stage-worn clothing from the private collection of Petty’s close, personal friend, Norman Harris, owner of Los Angeles’ famous Norman’s Rare Guitars. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to support Petty’s favorite charities: The Midnight Mission and The Tazzy Animal Rescue Fund.
“Tom and I were very good friends for over 40 years, from the very beginning of the Heartbreakers in Gainesville, Florida, all the way to the Traveling Wilburys,” Harris said. “We shared a love of guitars, but it was his friendship that meant the most.”
At age 69, Harris said it is time to open his collection to give Petty’s fans the opportunity to own a piece of the star’s groundbreaking career. Petty remains one of the best-selling music artists of all time with 80 million records sold. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
The early 1965 Gibson SG Electric Guitar, serial number 275535, has a cherry finish. Its Pearloid inlay on the face of the headstock is a precise match to photos from dozens of live performances. Petty favored the piece when he and the Heartbreakers were a part of Bob Dylan’s 1987 “True Confessions Tour.” The instrument has been signed “Tom Petty / ’88”.
Harris originally sold Petty the 1965 Gibson SG decades ago, but after Petty wrote the introduction to Harris’ book Norman’s Rare Guitars – 30 Years of Collecting Guitars, Petty fell in love with a rare Rose Morris guitar (a Rickenbacker Double Bound 360) featured in the book. Petty badly wanted to own the Rickenbacker, so Harris gave it to Petty in exchange for the Gibson and a handpicked collection of stage-worn clothing. Part of the deal included a special concert for The Midnight Mission, a premier homeless shelter in downtown Los Angeles. MusiCares named Petty its 2017 Person of the Year for his work with the homeless, and the clothing in the auction were worn during these charity concerts.
The collection included Petty’s signature top hat, which was custom-made and worn on tour as well as in two Traveling Wilburys music videos (“Handle With Care” and “End of the Line”). Petty also wore the hat during a 1989 MTV news segment in which the remaining Wilburys reflected on the death of bandmate Roy Orbison. Petty’s signature is inside the hat.
The collection also includes Petty’s signed 1963 white Gibson SG Junior electric guitar, his royal blue custom jacket worn onstage during his 1991 European tour, a stage-worn Western jacket together with Petty’s handwritten note describing the coat, and a silk brocade stage-worn black dragon-print jacket.
The Petty archive highlights more than 550 lots in the Heritage July 21 Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Auction.