ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons had this guitar made for the late Albert King as a surprise present for the bluesman's 65 th birthday, in 1988. It was crafted by Tom Holmes, a Nashville luthier who has made over 25 guitars for Gibbons, as well as many of Bo Diddley's odd shaped instruments. "It's built like a Les Paul," says Holmes. "It's an archtop with a maple top and a mohogany body and neck. I had (Cheap Trick guitarist) Rick Nielsens' Flying V here at the time, which I used as a model to sketch the body and check the headstock and neck joint, so its body shape is exactly like a GibsonV's.
King, who played Flying V's - all of them dubbed "LUCY" - throughout his lengthy and influential career, immediately made Holmes's creation his number one guitar. In December 1992, just eight days before the great guitarist died of a heart attack, he presented it to its present owner, his adopted "cousin" Lee King. Lee and his brother, Sam, both former members of Albert's band, went to see King play at a Los Angeles club. It was destined to be his final performance.
"We were hanging around in the dressing room when Albert came off stage," Lee King recalls. He told me he wasn't feeling well and said he might have to go to the hospital to have some bypass work done. Then he gave me the guitar and said, "Here, take this thing and play it." I was shocked. I grabbed him and hugged him but he kind of turned away because he wasn't the hugging type. Then they called him out to do an encore, and he took the guitar back and told me and Sam to come with him. We stood back in the wings and then he motioned for us to come out. He gave me the guitar again, infront of everyone.
"Again I was shocked. I didn't know how to thank him enough, but he told me that he just wanted me to carry on the blues. And that's what I'm doing."
Lee played the guitar extensively on his new album. The King Brothers' Turnin' Up the Heat.