The Money Shot: Johnny Marr and Donovan’s Fender Telecaster Thinline
Few guitars have even one celebrity owner; this instrument has had two.
All images: Eleanor Jane
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Although Scottish folk icon Donovan is best known for acoustic picking, the second half of his set at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival was fully electric and featured the Open Road band. Donovan’s six-string of choice for perhaps the greatest British rock festival of all time and his first-ever live electric guitar performance was one of Fender’s then-newfangled Telecaster Thinline models. The early example from late 1968 was later bought by Johnny Marr towards the end of his time in The Smiths and it even made an appearance on Top Of The Pops when it was loaned to Bernard Sumner for New Order’s performance of Round & Round in 1989.
“I wanted a Johnny Marr guitar for ages,” says Giles, who purchased the guitar from Marr via vintage dealer Richard Henry. “The funny thing was it was sold as a Johnny Marr guitar and almost as an afterthought they said, ‘Oh, it used to belong to Donovan.’ It was a bit of a double-whammy really and it was great to find that out. For me, it’s become more the Donovan Telecaster. If you are into that hippy, psychedelic era of music in the late 60s, Donovan’s right up there.”
With its attractive bookmatched back, substantial and supremely comfortable neck and a beautiful balance that suits chiming arpeggios down to the ground, star connections or not, this is a tough guitar to put down. Unlike its previous owners, we don’t imagine Giles will let this beautiful guitar slip through his fingers.