Gurian | J-R | 1973 | SN: C1179
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This lovely C series J Sized Gurian was submitted to us for the Gurian guitar Registry. The owner kindly gave us permission to use his photos. He also had this to say:
“I was very spoiled getting used to playing my Guild Starfire II electric guitar which I got in 1966. After all these years I still have not found an electric guitar that felt and sounded better, especially since it helped to give me a unique sound. By the early 1970’s after graduating college (University of Cincinnati), I was hanging out in Cincinnati, Ohio, working odd jobs and getting some experience playing music. I recall being invited to sit in with a band that included a small horn section at a downtown venue. There was a nice crowd, mixed white and African-American. All was going nicely; I was able to improvise my accompaniment and was enjoying my time with the band. When it was time for the band to take a break, an announcement was made inviting people in the audience to take the stage and play music. I stayed on stage and 2 African-Americans joined me on bass and drums, started a jam, and wouldn’t you know, people started dancing instead of just listening!
Fast forward to June 1973. I decided to revisit the west coast of Canada and hitch hiked with a friend from college all the way from Long Island (New York) to Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada) by way of Cleveland (Ohio), Salt Lake City (Utah), Boulder (Colorado), Washington State (Eastern Slope to Olympic Peninsula and ferry to Vancouver Island, then Vancouver, B.C.) We had driven out there the year before, ostensibly to fight forest fires, putting about 25,000 miles on my car (gas was cheap back then), worked various jobs in British Columbia (track and tie gangs on the Canadian National Railroad, picking/trimming fruit, etc.) It was to be a “liberating” experience not to have the car.
Soon enough we were able to hook in to the local color of Vancouver and I was introduced to the music scene. It was during this time that I came to appreciate acoustic guitars. Since I had hitch hiked out there, I was without a guitar and people were nice enough to let me hang out and play their fine acoustic instruments. I made some money by helping out some one with a moving van or house painting and hung out playing music at all night beer drinking house parties (this was right before most of Vancouver’s urban renewal), sitting in occasionally at small music venues. I would buy strings for people that let me play their guitars; so naturally, I would browse acoustic guitars trying out Guild, Gibson, Martin, and much to my amazement, thinking that the best sounding acoustic was some unknown “Gurian”! I met up with a great local singer songwriter rhythm guitar player, originally from the interior of British Columbia, whose talent seemed to be a combination of Richie Havens, Bob Dylan, and Hank Williams all rolled into one. Eventually, I travelled down to San Francisco where I hooked up with him and his lady half of a singing duo hanging out mainly in the North Beach neighborhood, having unforgettable experiences and getting more in tune with the acoustic guitar.
Not seeing how I could support myself financially in that situation, I flew back to New York in January 1974 with the hope that my Canadian singer/songwriter would be able to call me back for a music situation, but with a more immediate goal of getting together to play music with another singer/songwriter in New York City I met and played with briefly beforehand.
I bought a cheap Yamaha acoustic guitar with the first $100 I made in New York, and then within a number of months of working downtown in a garment factory, I bought the Gurian J-R C1179 at Sam Ash Music in Hempstead, Long Island. I became friends with the salesman, a bass player, and a friend of his, who eventually played the original role of Paul McCartney in the Broadway production of The Beatles (late 1970’s – early 1980’s) – even jammed in the basement with a group they were getting together with Vanilla Fudge’s Vincent Martell (they didn’t need a 2nd lead guitarist even though Vincent’s eyed popped when I got loose!) Anyhow, back to New York City and the singer/songwriter: painting my left hand fret board fingernails with glitter nail polish, machine gunning patrons at the bar with my Gurian during solos in Alphabet City. I was working by day at a garment factory, hanging out trying the music at night, getting little sleep.
I returned to Vancouver, Canada on a vacation from the garment factory. One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to Galiano Island (Gulf Islands, between Vancouver, Canada and Washington State) to visit old friends. The Gurian raised some eyebrows with people asking me how I was able to get such a powerful ringing sound from a guitar. At other times and places, people would comment that the only time they had ever heard such sound from a guitar was at concert venues, never just sitting around in a living room.
I did return to San Francisco a few years later on vacation from the garment factory job, Gurian in tow, finding my Canadian singer playing at an old North Beach hangout, quite a comedown from what I understand was a position at the Boarding House music venue. Hey, I played some music for old times sake, even met Lennie Bruce’s ex wife.
By 1985 I was in the fashion industry running a fabric importing business by the financial seat of my pants that was started in the late 1970’s, my guitar playing revolving around jazz workshops, my NYC singer songwriter friend dead of a drug overdose in the Chelsea Hotel. I did hear from my Canadian singer who called me out of the blue during the late 1970’s wondering how it would be in New York City. The last I heard he was in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada) but was so many years ago.
So what’s been special lately about the Gurian J-R C1179? How about crashing at my son’s college “townhouse” dormitory during his freshman year? We wouldn’t let him bring up his electronic keyboard to school until he showed us some good grades. By October, during “Freshman Weekend” I showed up with his keyboard and the Gurian. We had a great time hanging out, playing music, jamming with him and some of his friends. Three years later, when he was a senior, this time renting a house, I brought our daughter up for a long weekend, crashed at the house, the Gurian at the ready, more good times were had. How many dads get to do that!!”
Photo credits (with permission): Copyright 2011 Bob Walden (http://bobwaldenphoto.com/ and http://nylawphoto.com/)
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