What do most guitarists want for Christmas? Another guitar, of course! But if you are a rockstar axeman with enough six-strings to fill an airplane hangar already, you’ll be wanting a more inventive gift. Based upon the wonderful and weird hobbies of guitar stars, and with festive fun in our hearts, here are some speculative suggested gifts that may please your favorite twanger…
Gift: Triplex World War I pilot goggles
When he’s not playing guitar, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour is also a qualified pilot and aviation enthusiast – Pink Floyd’s “Learning To Fly” is a quite literal song about his hobby. Gilmour once owned his own company, Intrepid Aviation, through which he amassed a collection of historical aircraft, though he later sold the operation, as it became “too much of a business.” But even these days, Gilmour says he has “a nice old biplane that I pop up, wander around the skies in sometimes.” Hey, who doesn’t have a nice old biplane? Triplex were the RAF’s best goggles.
Gift: A fancy beehive and plenty of glass jars
When we say “beehive” we are not talking retro hairstyles. When Steve Vai isn’t playing honey-toned guitar lines, he’s making honey – his passion outside of guitar shredding is keeping bees. As a keen apiarist, Vai even has toured U.S. schools talking about his sweet hobby. Just when you thought rock stardom could not be more surreal, here is Steve Vai being asked about apiary via a Russian interpreter. “Beers? No, bees!”
Jeff Beck Gift: A 1926 Chrysler Roadster, without wheels
Jeff Beck releases new music only when he wants. Why? He’s too busy fixing cars. In 2008, he recalled: “I’ve built 14 or 15 street rods in 25 years. And I’ve kept most of them. The ones I bought whole over in L.A. in ’76, and had them shipped back to England – they started to go rusty. And I thought, ‘I’m not going to rebuild this. I didn’t build it in the first place.’ So I cleaned it up, except the ones that were already clean, and let somebody else have them. But I never sold anything after. I can’t see 18 months of work go down the driveway. In a flash someone else has got the car, for a few bundles of notes that are all going to go out the window. So I’ve built a special shed for them.” Beck is regarded as one of guitar’s greatest players, but it seems he just prefers fixing vintage cars. Go to 5 minutes in this Car Crazy video to hear Beck talking about his true passion.
Gift: The rarest stamps
Ronnie Wood is famed as a Rolling Stone, bon viveur and painter. But “Woody” has another hobby: philately. And any stamp collector wants the ultimate. The U.K’s “Penny Black” was the world’s first adhesive postage stamp used in a public postal system, issued in Britain on May 1, 1840. A mint “Penny Black” stamp is valued upwards of $15,000. Or go large! The world’s highest-valued stamp was printed in Sweden in 1855 and was the result of a printing error and instead of printing the three-skilling stamp on green stock, it was printed on yellow/orange stock paper. The one-off rarity was last sold for $2.3 million in 1996. If Ronnie doesn’t find this one stuck to his Christmas tree, he’ll have to remind himself: you can’t always get what you want.
Gift: Roman coins
Ex-Rolling Stone bassist Wyman is a metalhead. Yes, he is an avid metal detector and has his own website BillWymanDetector.com. So, buy Bill some old Roman coins, throw them in his garden, and make his life easier. Or if you are feeling generous, how about the OKM eXp 5000 Pro metal detector with 3D eyeset for “seeing” 25 meters underground. At $56,799, “Satisfaction” is surely guaranteed?
Kings of Leon
Gift: Penfolds Grange Shiraz 1952
Kings of Leon live the high life, and they live it with style. The quartet love their vintage wines and are particularly fond of Australia’s Penfolds. For Christmas, they’d appreciate this rare red. The half bottle (375ml) is signed by winemaker Max Schubert. Just one half bottle left when we checked, at $12,500. Gulp!
Gift: Hardy Zane Ti Saltwater Fly Fishing Reel
When Eric Clapton isn’t playing scales, he’s hooking them. EC is a keen fly-fisherman, and sitting by a river gives him repose. Indeed, he credits a fishing mishap for turning his life around. “It was the fishing rod that told me I had hit rock bottom,” he told Esquire magazine in 2007 of his drinking days. “Everyone says I’m in a fix. Am I in a fix? I don’t know, am I? I don’t feel like I’m in a fix. How do I get out of the fix I’m in? I’ll go fishing. I had always thought of myself as a good fisherman. I drove to the River Wey and found a spot. I had just managed to get my gear set up when I lost my balance, fell over onto one of my rods, and broke it. I could no longer even fish. Bang, I was at rock bottom. You are not a fisherman, mister. Wake up.”
Clapton will want the ultimate fishing tackle these days, so how about the limited edition Hardy Zane Ti Saltwater Fly Fishing Reel, made from Titanium? $9,700 will keep Clappers reeling in happiness.
Gift: Roy Stewart’s Baron surfboard
When Metallica’s Kirk Hammett isn’t riding the lightning, he’s riding the waves. A keen surfer for over a decade, Kirk would no doubt appreciate New Zealander Roy Stewart’s top-line made-to-order Baron surfboards that cost $528,000 apiece. What?? The Baron is made of Paulownia wood, so if Kirk doesn’t like it he could always chop it up and build a guitar? Here’s Kirk talking about surfing…
Gift: A vintage stuffed elephant’s head
The White Stripe and Raconteurs man Jack White used to run his own upholstery business, refurbishing vintage sofas and more. His shop motto was “Your Furniture’s Not Dead” – unlike his other stuffed-related hobby, taxidermy. In an interview with Believer magazine in 2003, White revealed his personal vintage taxidermy collection includes “a zebra head, two gazelles, an eland, a kudu, a giant white elk,” and more. But he hasn’t got an elephant’s head. For a man whose breakthrough album was Elephant, maybe this could be an ideal gift? Beware: you cannot send Jack White just any stuffed animal. He once complained to WENN about fan gifts, saying, “Sometimes people get it wrong, and it’s so insulting. They’ll buy me a squirrel playing pool or some s--t like that.” White’s hobby may be strange, but he’s still picky. Okay?
Many more guitar heroes have fascinating hobbies, of course. Such as... Billy Gibbons (hot-rodding), Joe Perry (cuisine), Ted Nugent and James Hetfield (hunting) and Blur’s Alex James (cheesemaking). We hope all the above – and you – get some great gifts.