merseycats

 

   

Merseycats guitars

No.1 A Tele named Duane

 

In 1973 Beryl and I were in a C&W Band called Galveston.  One night we played at a Country Club on the Wirral along with another band from Manchester.  The lead guitarist had a brand new Fender Tele Thinline and he asked me how I was getting the steel guitar effects from my Les Paul.  He was convinced that I was using some sort of effect pedal.  I told him that I was just using my fingers and to prove it I played his guitar in our next spot.  I fell in love with it but as he would not part with it and we had no money anyway that was the last time I played or even saw one for what turned out to be 18 years. Over the years I visited guitar shops all over the country and was told many times that there was no such thing as a Tele Thinline with humbuckers.

In 1991 my mother was diagnosed with cancer and we went to live with her over her last days.  During this time it was my birthday and as Beryl and I were going to the shops she said "Get yourself something for your birthday".  Near the shopping centre there was a guitar shop, Frailers, and as usual I could not resist going in to look at the guitars.  It was like Aladdin's cave, full of vintage and rare guitars.  I asked my usual question " I don't suppose that you have ever seen a Tele thinline with humbuckers?"  Frank, the owner, replied, " Do you mean like that one over there"? He had just brought it back from a guitar show in Oklahoma.  There it was, a 1972 Thinline, even more, it had a Fender Bigbsy. It had obviously had a hard life as it was thickly brush painted with floorboard varnish and the neck had a terrible back bow.  Cigarette burns and dents and scratches completed the picture.  One big problem though was that I still could not afford to buy it, so left, at least happy that I had not imagined it after all.

 When we got back to mum's house she asked me if I had seen anything I would like for my birthday present.  I replied that I had but that it was far too much money.  Her reply was "You will have that guitar".  She died a couple of days later and Beryl agreed that we should buy the guitar as Mum wanted. 

I bought the guitar and as I could not afford to have it professionally restored, I set about doing it myself. The job was daunting as the bridge was cranked up to counter the back bow so the action was so bad that it was unplayable.  It took 10 months just to get the back bow out of the neck!  I had the electrics sorted out by an American guy called Kent Armstrong who specialises in pickups. He coil tapped the pickups and renewed the wiring so I can select between single coil and humbucker and get the best of both worlds.  The body and neck I stripped and refinished in clear cellulose. 

The guitar plays like a dream.  I have had many offers from people wishing to buy it but I will never part with it.  It is fairly rare and the only other I know of is an identical one owned by Francis Rossi of Status Quo. Anyway,  during the rebuild, burnt into the wood under the scratchplate, I found the name "Duane De Rosia" and often wondered just who this guy was but never thought I would ever find out. 

 

 A couple of years ago someone asked me about the guitar and I told him the story. He was surprised duane de rosiathat I had not tried to find out who Duane de Rosia was and suggested that I try Google.  Well I did and after a couple of hours of detective work found that his stage name was Duane Dee. He was a C&W artist and had had a couple of releases on the Capitol Label in the early seventies. I also found that he lives and runs a recording studio in Bradenton Florida. I phoned him and he remembered the guitar telling me that he had exchanged it for a Fender P bass many years before and that he had always regretted it. He was amazed to find that it had made its way to England via Texas and Oklahoma. He explained that Fender presented him with the guitar when he signed his contract with Capitol records and it featured on his cover of the Bee Gees song "How do you mend a broken heart". He toured with the guitar many times and has played it on the Grand Ole Opry. He kindly sent me a promotional photo of himself playing the guitar in 1981. He hopes to tour in the UK sometime and expressed an interest in Merseycats and an admiration for the work we do so maybe he will play for us one day. I even suggested that I could loan him a very good guitar.

See Bernie playing with Tempest

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