Anthrax’s Scott Ian Opens Up on Jackson Refusing Endorsement Deal Because He’s a Rhythm Guitar Player

At this point, Anthrax leader Scott Ian is pretty much synonymous with Jackson guitars. You’ll rarely see him playing something else. Needless to say, he’s one of the brand’s biggest names and Jackson has some of his pretty amazing signature models in their arsenal. However, the endorsement didn’t come easy.

Anthrax's Scott Ian Shows Off his Insane Jackson Collection | Thrashed | Jackson Guitars

In fact, in a recent interview with Guitar World, Ian recalled how the company refused to seal the deal with him. The reason? He was a rhythm guitar player. Asked about how he finally made the Soloist model his “workhorse” guitar after switching from Jackson’s famous Randy Rhoads Concorde model, he explained:

“Around the time [1985’s] ‘Spreading the Disease‘ was coming out, we had signed a major-label deal with Island Records. Our manager was trying to get endorsement deals, because we didn’t have money to buy proper professional gear for touring.

“[Former Anthrax lead guitarist] Danny Spitz and I both wanted to play Jacksons, of course. With whoever was doing the A&R for Jackson at the time, the actual word that came back about was: ‘Well, we’re thrilled about Danny, but why would we endorse Scott? He’s the rhythm guitar player.’ They wouldn’t do it. I gotta say, I was angry and sad. Like, what kind of bullshit is that!”

“A buddy of mine worked at ESP in New York at the time, and said they’d be happy to make some guitars. They couldn’t do a Rhoads shape, obviously, but they had Strat/Soloist shapes with a similar pointy headstock to Jackson’s, so they built me a couple of guitars to take on tour. I put a Duncan JB in those, and they sounded good, but it wasn’t what I really wanted.

“I would look over at Danny with his cavalcade of Rhoads on the side of the stage – like eight of them – and I was just bummed. I was constantly reminded that I wasn’t playing Jackson.

However, when Anthrax achieved even greater commercial success, the company changed their mind. Scott adds:

“At some point in either late ’88 or early ’89s, Jackson rectified their mistake [laughs]. There was a changing of the guard, and another friend of mine from a guitar shop on 48th Street started working for Jackson. He immediately said, ‘Hey, we would love to have you over here,’ and I couldn’t have said yes fast enough.

“The first thing they did was build me the Soloist, which is fretless after the 14th fret, has the big inlay [on the fretboard] that says ‘NOT‘ on it, and has the New York Yankees logo on the body – that became my next most iconic guitar. It became the workhorse for the next four or five years.  I was basically back to where I started – I always wanted a Strat, and now I’m playing that shape with a cooler headstock. They’re just super-crunchy and so easy to play.”

Photo: Alfred Nitsch (20140614-084-Nova Rock 2014-Anthrax-Scott Ian)