For Sale: B.B. KING's 'Lucille.'

The Bluesmaster's iconic Gibson guitar part of upcoming estate auction

July 25, 2019

Astrid Stawiarz / Getty Images

There are many, MANY iconic names in Rock and Roll and Blues, most of them the monikers of performers, bands, and even album titles. Some of those names belong to guitars played by some of those well known musicians...Eric Clapton had Fender Stratocasters famously known as 'Brownie' and 'Blackie,' both of which sold at auction for a half-million (Brownie) and 1 million dollars (Blackie) respectively. However, I'm sure that for those who are familiar with that sort of thing, there is no more iconic named instrument than that of 'Lucille,' the Gibson ES 345 Prototype that was the companion to legendary Bluesman, B.B. KING. That well-known axe will be part of an estate auction of some of the posessions and instruments owned by 'The King of the Blues' that is scheduled for September 21st. While there has been more than one 'Lucille' guitar in King's lifetime of playing the Blues, the one that is headed for auction is a special one that was presented to King by Gibson Guitars on the guitarist's 80th birthday. According to Julien's Auctions, the guitar's headstock has “B.B. King 80” and a crown inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and is estimated to be worth $80,000 to $100,000. Now, that may be a very conservative estimate, given that the recent auction of some of (Pink Floyd's) David Gilmour's legendary guitars netted $3.5 million dollars for just one guitar... As previously mentioned, this was not the only 'Lucille;' and the origin of the name dates back to more than 50 years ago, where as Julien's Auctions recounts, "King first used that moniker for a guitar he rescued from a fire while he was playing an Arkansas club in 1949. The blaze broke out as two men fought over a woman, and the musician narrowly escaped death after he went back into the club to save his guitar." Not only did the incident provide a name for King's guitar (the woman being fought over was named Lucille), it also provided some valuable life lessons for King: he named his guitar after her “to remind himself to never fight over a woman or run into a burning building,” Other items to be auctioned from King's estate include the National Medal of Arts that President George H.W. Bush presented to King in 1990, as well as his touring van, jewelry and clothing. The 15-time Grammy winner was 89 when he died in 2015.