Some of the biggest names of the British rock scene of the 1960s and 70s have rallied round to help a much-loved American guitarist struggling with the costs of rehabilitation after suffering a catastrophic stroke.
The three surviving members of Led Zeppelin, blues legend Eric Clapton, Sir Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour and ELO’s Jeff Lynne are among 23 musicians who have autographed a guitar to be sold at auction this December.
Money raised by the sale will be used to pay for medical treatment and therapies for Jerry Donahue, an American guitarist who played in leading British folk-rock bands Fairport Convention and Fotheringay during the late 60s and 70s.
Donahue, 73, suffered a severe stroke in 2016 and has been unable to play guitar since.
Dave Pegg, bass player with Fairport Convention and one of the leaders of the fundraising drive, said: “What’s brought these stars together to help is the respect they have for Jerry. They recognise he’s one of the greatest guitarists in the world with a unique style.
“The way in which Jerry could bend strings is totally different to English guitarists. No one else could do the multiple string bends, which is why guitar legends like Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page admire him so much.
“Mentally, Jerry is all there; the problem is his muscles. He needs a lot of therapy but it’s very expensive and his medical insurance only covers so much. Our dream is to help him play guitar again.”
Since his stroke, Donahue, who lives in Los Angeles, has lost the use of the right side of his body, including his hand. He has problems with both speech and mobility.
Luke Hobbs, auctioneer at Gardiner Houlgate in Wiltshire, said: “This guitar has been signed by some of the biggest names in British rock history. They really are rock royalty.
“We’ve seen autographed guitars before but nothing like this. It’s like a Who’s Who of the greatest musicians the UK has ever produced.
“We’ve never come across any other guitar signed by all three members of Led Zeppelin and all three of the guitarists who played with 1960s hit band The Yardbirds – Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.
“Paul McCartney also usually abstains from autographing equipment.”
The guitar is expected to sell for in the region of between £10,000 and £20,000 when it goes under the hammer on December 11.
Other big names on the guitar include The Who’s Pete Townsend, Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, Dire Straits’s Mark Knopfler and Brian Wilson, founder member of The Beach Boys.
The guitar, a signature Jerry Donahue Telecaster, was donated by JHS Music. Auction house Gardiner Houlgate is also waiving its usual seller’s fee.
Having grown up in New York and Los Angeles, Donahue made his name after he moved to England and became a respected figure in the folk-rock movement of the late 60s and 70s.
He also toured with major performers including Joan Armatrading, Sir Elton John, The Proclaimers and Sir Cliff Richard.