59 years ago, today, in 1958, Gibson patented its Flying V electric guitar, later made famous by Jimi Hendrix before it became synonymous with metal.
Jimi didn’t play guitar like anyone else, so it makes sense that his axe didn’t look like anything else. Dave Davies of The Kinks used one too, he also wore woman’s clothing and perhaps wasn’t aiming for a prototype Metallica look back then.
Growing up, the musician I remember using the V was Bob Mould from Husker Du. Like The Byrds on speed, Husker Du were an amazing three-piece driven by two brilliant song writers in Grant Hart and Bob, whose Flying V almost scraped the stage floor it hung so low. A pulverising relentless buzz-saw draining fluid from the ears of stunned audiences who witnessed the breath-taking speed, volume and aggression, yet utter pop-ness, of the songs.
Along with the Jesus and Mary Chain’s cover of Syd Barrett’s Vegetable Man, Husker Du nailed one of the best cover versions ever; a mind melting version of Eight Miles High by The Byrds. A song which perfectly captures the dichotomy at the heart of the husk.
Husker Du were originally signed to SST records, a label as important as Motown. The
label’s discography is extraordinary, counting amongst their back-catalogue Sister By Sonic Youth, Double Nickels On The Dime by Minutemen, New Day Rising by Husker Du, Your Living All Over Me by Dinosaur Jnr, Up On The Sun By The Meat Puppets, Damaged by Black Flag and Ifn by Firehose. SST’s gargantuan output throughout the 80’s remains one of the most definitive sources of independent American music.
In the forties, ‘pole-sitting’ – believe it or not - was a popular way to create publicity, such stunts were usually carried out by American radio stations. In 1959, a 17-year-old girl spent 211 days inside a tiny shack, 40 feet above the ground on a telephone pole, down the street from one of the first guitar shops to ever sell the Flying V.
Like Husker Du’s take on Eight Miles High; the mind boggles.