Folk rock music icon Roger McGuinn and country music singer-songwriter Marty Stuart and his band, the Fabulous Superlatives, will perform at Smothers Theatre, Malibu, at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10. The group will perform such classics as "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Eight Miles High," and "Turn, Turn, Turn."
McGuinn and Stuart are an unbeatable combination, but for guitar fans the show offers even more. While it may not be a Byrds reunion, it's a reunion of sorts as McGuinn's signature 12-string Rickenbacker guitar blends again with Stuart's B-Bender guitar.
Stuart's well-known B-Bender started life as a 1954 Fender Telecaster and was the main electric "axe" of legendary country-rock pioneer Clarence White of The Byrds. White and multi-instrumentalist Gene Parsons fashioned a steel-guitar-inspired mechanism that raised the B string a whole step when downward pressure was applied on the strap and the string was "bent." White used the guitar almost exclusively until his untimely end in 1973; its distinctive sound is heard blending seamlessly with McGuinn's 12-string on many Byrds recordings.
After White's passing, the "Clarence White Tele" sat unused at his home in Kentucky until his widow, Suzy, contacted Stuart. "The guitar really found me," recalls Stuart. "Roland White, Clarence's brother, got me my gig with Lester Flatt, and I was friends with the family. The guitar already had a following of its own by that time -- I was always fascinated by it, lusted after it, and I'd even had a similar bender put in another guitar to try and duplicate the effect.
"I've never considered it my guitar, really. It's his, and now it kind of has a life of its own. The spring gets dry and squeaks, so I spray WD-40 on it now and then, but I've never cleaned it. All the dirt inside and behind the strings is the original dirt. We call it 'Clarence.'"
For many who hear the name Roger McGuinn, the first thing that comes to mind is that unmistakable Rickenbacker 12-string guitar. McGuinn has been associated with the guitar since his earliest days as a member of The Byrds. McGuinn has played other electric guitars over the years and is also known as an acoustic folk artist of considerable magnitude, but he still remains the undisputed "King of the Rick 12." When he started playing it, McGuinn couldn't have known that the 12-string Rickenbacker would become his signature sound.
"We went as a group to see A Hard Day's Night multiple times and were totally taken with The Beatles," says McGuinn. "I liked George Harrison's Rickenbacker 12, but I couldn't find one that looked like his with the pointy cutaways, so I bought the blonde 360 model. I thought it was beautiful, like a golden palomino, and the checkerboard binding reminded me of Gene Autry or Roy Rogers. I loved that guitar and played it eight hours a day. It was later stolen and I discovered that it was auctioned off in England for over $100,000. Given the statute of limitations and the difficulty in dealing with laws in a foreign country, there wasn't much I could do, even though I considered myself the legal and rightful owner."
The signature sound continued, however, and a new 12-string took that guitar's place. Now -- so many years later -- two men, two guitars, and a full band are making music together again.
Tickets, priced at $55, $49, and $40 for the public and $10 for full-time Pepperdine students, are available by calling (310) 506-4522. Tickets are also available on the Center for the Arts website.