B.B. King is arguably the world’s most well-known blues musician. Almost as well known is the name of his guitar: Lucille. Less well known is the source of the name.
King was playing a honky-tonk in Twist, Ark., when the building caught fire. After escaping the building, King ran back in to save his guitar. King later learned that the fire started as a result of two men fighting in the bar over a woman named Lucille.
King christened his guitar Lucille to remind him not to run into burning buildings. And possibly to avoid women named Lucille.
King’s Lucille backstory is eventful but few instruments earned their names in such dramatic fashion.
Bluesman Albert King (no relation) named his guitar Lucy, after actress Lucille Ball. Both Kings transferred the name to their main guitar.
Another guitar named Lucy belonged to Eric Clapton. This red Gibson Les Paul got around, having already been owned by John Sebastian and Rick Derringer. Clapton gave the guitar to Beatle George Harrison, and borrowed it back to record the solo for The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Harrison can be seen playing Lucy in the recent Beatles’ documentary Get Back.
Willie Nelson’s guitar is a wonder – it’s a wonder it hasn’t fallen apart. A Martin acoustic from the late ‘60s, the guitar has dings and scratches galore, autographs all over and a quite noticeable hole near the bridge. Nelson named his guitar Trigger, after movie cowboy Roy Rogers’ horse. Willie’s Trigger has been as faithful a companion to him as the horse was to Roy.
ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Metallica’s James Hetfield both have custom guitars made using material from places significant to them.
The wood used to make Hetfield’s guitar came from the since-demolished garage of the house Metallica lived in from 1983-1986. Hetfield dubbed the guitar Carl, a nod to the house’s address on Carlson Boulevard in El Cerrito, Calif.
The wood used to make Gibbons’ guitar was from the Clarksdale, Miss., house in which blues titan Muddy Waters was raised. Gibbons dubbed the instrument Muddywood.
Finally, Rolling Stone Keith Richards was gifted a blond Fender Telecaster on his 27th birthday by none other than Clapton, who apparently was Guitar Santa back in the day.
Keith chose the name Micawber for the Fender, which has remained one of his go-to guitars live and in the studio. Micawber was a character in author Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield.
Although he enjoys Dickens’ works, Richards insisted to music website Reverb that there is “no reason for my guitar being called Micawber, apart from the fact that it’s such an unlikely name.
“There’s no one around me called Micawber,” Richards said, “so when I scream for Micawber, everyone knows what I’m talking about.”