Joe Bonamassa Shares Honest Opinion on Metallica’s Kirk Hammett Owning the Greeny Les Paul

Modern blues rock maestro Joe Bonamassa reflected on Metallica’s lead guitarist Kirk Hammett owning the legendary “Greeny” Gibson Les Paul.

Since this guitar was originally owned by blues legend Peter Green, which is how it got its name, some guitar lovers out there felt odd about a metal musician owning this 1959 Les Paul. The guitar, which was also owned by another blues legend, Gary Moore, eventually got into Kirk’s possession in the mid-2010s.

During his recent visit to Dean Delray’s show Let There Be Talk, Joe, who’s also a proud owner of more than one ’59 Gibson Les Paul, said that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a metal musician owning such a guitar. As he explained (transcript via Ultimate Guitar):

“When Kirk bought the Peter Green guitar, some of the some of the purists were like, ‘I can’t believe, that guitar should be playing blues.'”

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And yeah, Greeny is closely associated with blues music. However, Bonamassa asks a good question — does it really matter if the instrument now has a different owner and is properly cared for?

“In which rule book is it stated that Peter Green’s Sunburst Les Paul has to play blues its entire f***ing life? He’s up there playing ‘Enter Sandman.’ I love it. He gigs it, hard.”

“I’m like, that’s what it needs,” Joe added. “It needs to be played and he’s the perfect guy to own it. And same thing with the black ’59. It’s not like he’s he bought it and wrapped it in bubble wrap. He gives it to his tech and it’s on stage in stadiums.”

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At this point, the instrument is pretty much associated with Metallica’s Kirk Hammett. So much that Gibson not only released different recreations of the legendary model, including a $50,000 Custom Shop version, but also the cheaper Epiphone LP.

In fact, the Epiphone Greeny is the first-ever Epiphone with a Gibson-style headstock. The guitar was talked about for a while and was finally launched in November, not long after Kirk was seen playing one live with Metallica.

During the same interview, Bonamassa also recalled helping Kirk buy a super-rare Gibson Les Paul. But as he revealed, Kirk initially bugged him about buying a “Black Burst” from him.

“I own a guitar called the Black Burst,” Joe said. “It’s an early 1960 ‘Double-O’ black standard. Stoptail, mint condition. It was found in an old folks’ home by a guy named Jim Dulfer in the early 2000s. He would literally put fliers out old folks’ homes in Florida and go, ‘If you have any old guitars, I’m your guy!'”

However, he just wouldn’t let go of it since this is one of his favorite guitars. Bonamassa added:

“Kirk knew I had the guitar. He wanted a black Standard, like a late ’50s Black Standard. There’s maybe five in the world. And the Black Burst is a guitar… Like, when I bought it 10, 12, 13 years ago from the guy who bought it from Jim.”

“I was like, ‘This is a forever guitar.’ It’s like the Skinner Burst. It’s like, ‘I’m gonna die with this shit.’ It’s one of my favorites. It’s one of the most valuable guitars I own but it’s also like the Holy Grail unobtainium unicorn.”

“Kirk would bug me casually, ‘Can you sell me the Black Burst.’ I’m like, ‘I can’t, man. I love you, but I can’t.’ He’s been a good friend, he’s been a great friend to me and my parents.”

However, after a while, Bonamassa stumbled upon another rare Gibson Les Paul. It was through the Carter Vintage Guitar store in Nashville, Tennessee and he immediately thought of Hammett.

“And the guitar had been vetted before the family consigned it with Carter’s,” Joe recalled. “It was on the cover of a vintage guitar magazine. Real guitar, lock solid provenance from day one. From the first day they owned it. And it stayed in the family. So there’s no questions of what this thing was — factory black ’59 Standard.”

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Now known as Ella, Kirk acquired this one thanks to Joe. The factory black guitar, which is a pretty rare find, ended up in Metallica guitarist’s collection sometime in the first half of 2023. Joe explained:

“I texted him, I said, ‘Listen, it’s not the Blackburst, but this is a real, vetted, 59 Black Standard. You don’t have to worry, you’ll sleep well at night, knowing that you have a legit guitar.’ Which, in this world, especially with unicorns, provenance is everything. He sent me like, ‘Oh, man, I’m gonna I’m gonna call them now.’ And he did! And he got it! He loves it! And he plays it.”

Photos: Miguel (Metallica (52195773985)), Lightburst (Joe Bonamassa 2-18-23 Riverside Theatre in Milwaukee)

Author

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.