Red Heart Guitar

I love finding surprises while flicking through photos of Prince.

This photo comes from Allen Beaulieu’s recent book “Prince: Before The Rain”. It shows Prince and his bandmates on stage at First Avenue (at the time called “Sam’s”) in October 1981.

Prince is playing his familiar Madcat, with a number of backup guitars ready for action, including a distinctive red heart shaped guitar.

Fast forward to 2011. Andy Allo joins Prince for his European leg of the Welcome To America tour. Is that when this photo was taken, or was it later?:

Nice ❤️ guitar.

Has she been browsing the instrument room at Paisley Park by any chance?

MadCat Re-issues

The Prinz - 80s tribute guitar issued by Hohner

The Prinz – 80s tribute guitar issued by Hohner

There is a lot of misinformation regarding the various attempts at recreating the iconic H.S. Anderson/Hohner MadCat. But with the plethora of versions, it’s easy to get the details wrong. Here’s what I consider to be the definitive list of re-issues, in chronological order:

  • Late 1980s: The Prinz (Hohner)
  • 1990s: The Prinz/TE Prinz (Hohner)
  • 2008: The Artist (Hohner)
  • 2008: The Artist Elite (Hohner)
  • 2009: Moridaira 45 year anniversary Mad Cat (H.S. Anderson)
  • 2012: Vintage MadCat Re-issue (H.S. Anderson) (Version 1)
  • 2016 to present day: Vintage MadCat Re-issue (H.S. Anderson) (Version 2)

Each of these have notable differences, and vary in value. They are all available regularly on eBay and Reverb, as well as other selling sites like Gumtree.

I own a few of the Hohner tribute models, and will provide my own photos and details in these pages in due course.

Blue Stratocaster

During the 2007 Superbowl half-time show Prince played three guitars. He started with his trusty Madcat, and ended with his purple symbol guitar. In between, he performed All Along The Watch Tower and the Foo Fighters’ “Best of You” with this light blue Stratocaster. It wasn’t the first time Prince was seen with this guitar – he also used it in the summer of 2006, most notably at Bryant Park, New York – which was part of the Good Morning America concert series. There are dozens of photos of that event here.

Prince was also seen playing this guitar on Saturday Night Live in February 2006 – it was his guitar of choice for a short period in the run up to Superbowl where it became water damaged. That damage didn’t render it unplayable, it made another appearance in June 2007 when Prince performed with Sheila E. at the ALMA awards.

2007 will long be remembered for Prince’s 21 night residency in London. He rocked the O2 arena playing the same combination of guitars as at the Superbowl, which included this Strat. The latest video footage I can find of Prince with this guitar is on the Jay Leno show on the 26th March 2009.

Paisley Park’s twitter post featuring the blue Stratocaster

Continue reading “Blue Stratocaster”

Prince Pre-Fame: Gibson L-48

Way back in 1977 Prince was taking his first steps towards stardom. Armed with a demo tape, his manager Chris Moon was struggling to make any impression on prospective record companies. He needed assistance marketing and selling Prince and his music.
Chris Moon enlisted Owen Husney, a local advertising agent with a background in the music business. Chris Moon approached him with Prince’s demo, and Husney immediately paid an interest. He commissioned a local photographer, Robert Whitman, to provide some portraits for a press pack to be distributed to music industry executives.

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Prince pictured with the Gibson L-48 in Owen Husney’s home, and in the studio (Photos: Robert Whitman, see links)

Robert Whitman’s photos are iconic. They show a teenage Prince without the protective shell he created as he found fame. Whitman skillfully relaxed his subject enough to capture a natural smile – a rare occurance in photographs later in Prince’s career.

Continue reading “Prince Pre-Fame: Gibson L-48”

Straps

Prince was a master of style. He carefully chose his outfits to suit his current music style. And he also invested in good quality guitar straps to compliment both his outfit and guitar of choice.

For his Cloud guitars, Prince had straps handmade, dyed to match the colour of the specific cloud that was in use. David Rusan, who is now making cloud guitars again, has recently said that he has approached the original creators of Prince’s straps, and they still have the original colour swatches meaning that he is able to commission colour accurate straps to go with the guitars he is building. Very cool.

With other guitars Prince used a variety of straps, appearing to favour those made by Get’m Get’m – a strap designer based in Hollywood CA. These straps do not come cheap – but they are top quality. Their range includes the iconic Leopard skin strap that Prince used with his Madcat. Prince also used the Get’m Get’m Indochine strap with his Vox guitars, and with his custom purple Taylor acoustic.

Also out there are Bluebird Guitar Straps. These guys in the Netherlands make a couple of interesting straps – a yellow strap designed to match a yellow cloud guitar, and woven version of the purple love symbol metal-and-fabric strap he used with his purple symbol guitar.

It is worth looking out for Get’m Get’m straps on ebay – they do come up from time to time. It is also possible to order them on Amazon.com, sometimes at a much lower price than direct from the manufacturer.