billy gibbons pearly gates gibson les paul

The story of how Gibbons acquired ‘Pearly Gates’ is almost as famous as the guitar itself. As told by the Reverend Willie G. himself, the story begins in the late 1960s with an old, beat up Packard automobile that used to be ZZ Top’s main ride – all three of them and their entourage. “That automobile served us well,” Gibbons said. “It was huge, flashy and lowered, but not intentionally – it was just, plain old.” Not long after getting the Packard, one of band’s “girlfriends” decided to head to California to try out for a part in a movie, and the band was kind enough to let her use the Packard to get there. According to legend, she landed the part, and the band christened the car with the name “Pearly Gates” because they thought “it must have had divine connections.” At some point, the girlfriend sold the car and sent the money back to the band. “The very day the money arrived, a guy called me up wanting to sell me a ’59 Sunburst Les Paul,” Gibbons reflected. “I bought the guitar and called the girlfriend to thank her for being so kind. She said, ‘It looks like the car went for a good cause. Since the money that put the guitar in our lap came from selling the Packard, we’ll lay claim to the name Pearly Gates. Now you can go make divine music.’ Try as I may, I haven’t been able to find another guitar that sounds as heavenly.” And that’s the legend of Gibbons’ storied ‘Pearly Gates’ Les Paul. Gibson’s 1959 Les Paul Standards may be the Holy Grail of electric solid body guitars, but Gibbons’ ‘Pearly Gates’ may be the most desirable of all.

A long time coming, but well worth the wait
The master craftsmen at Gibson Custom have waited a long time for the opportunity to recreate Gibbons’ famed ‘Pearly Gates.’ So when they finally got their chance this year – the 50th anniversary of the 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard – they set out to make the best possible replica they could. Suffice to say, they have succeeded … and rather gloriously! Recreating one of the world’s most coveted guitars wasn’t easy. But remember, we’re the original makers of the guitar, and we are Gibson Custom!

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