One of the oldest and most highly revered American guitar companies, Epiphone have coursed through the currents of musical history making a significant impact on jazz and early rock n’ roll.
Take a walk with us down memory lane. Here’s a brief history of the Epiphone as well as the most iconic players to take it on.
The story of the Epiphone goes back 146 years to the Ottoman Empire. The son of a greek timber merchant, Anastasios adopted the same materials of his father, crafting lutes, violins and traditional Greek lioutos in 1873. After immigrating to New York in 1903, Anastasios and his son Epimanondas capitalised on the surging mandolin craze.
When the stock market crashed in 1929 the company, now under command of Epimandondas, was forced to pivot from mandolins to guitars. Throughout the ’30s Gibson and Epiphone were locked into an all out war of competing models and styles. However, with the large bodied Emperor and De Luxe Broadway and Triumph models, Epiphone took the crown manufacturing the world’s most state of the art guitars and receiving endorsement from the top players of the time.
After WWII and the bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1941, Epiphone was at the peak of it’s game. However, after the tragic death of ‘Epi’ during the war, the company was handed down to his younger brothers and cracks began to show. Fender arose form California with the Stratocaster and Telecaster models in 1954 and thus Gibson and Epiphone joined forces in 1957, creating one of the most enduring and instantly recognisable guitar giants in history.
We take a look at the 6 most legendary performances where an Epiphone graced the stage.
John Lennon – Epiphone Casino
The final ever public performance from The Beatles occurred on the rooftops of Apple Corps in London 30 Jan, 1969. The show was filmed and included in a documentary released in 1970 titled Let It Be.
The band played an iconic performance of Don’t Let Me Down, unreleased and powerfully sung by John Lennon. With his long hair and prophetic glasses, Lennon’s howls were haunting as he was armed with a cream Epiphone Casino. Perhaps the most historic concert to ever be recorded with an Epiphone.
John Lennon also frequented the same model throughout his solo performances in 1969.
Nick Valensi – Epiphone Riviera
What do you do when you’re in the coolest band in New York City? Pick up an Epiphone Riviera and shred. Famously playing an Epiphone throughout all of his career, Valensis’s playing was instrumental to the success of The Strokes debut album Is This It?
Without a doubt one of the sleekest Epiphone models ever produced, Nick Valensi formed an iconic look. With a new album on the way The Strokes are set to return to the stage in a big way with a whole lot more Epiphone glory to be had.
Thom Yorke – Epiphone Casino
Lollapalooza Chicago 2016
One of the most influential bands of the ’90s, if not all time, Radiohead have known many evolutions. From the dense, lush orchestration of Ok Computer to the art-rock collage of Kid A they have constantly innovated what we know to be rock n’ roll.
In 2016, Thom Yorke took to the stage at Lallapalooze for an epic 2 hour performance during which ended with a stunning rendition of Street Spirit (Fade Out), and he’s making the magic happen all on an Epiphone Casino.
Noel Gallagher – Epiphone Sheraton “Union Jack”
Maine Road 1996
Maine Road was a watershed moment for Oasis – they were headlining their first ever stadium shows and on April 27 1996 they sold it out to 42,000 people. It was where they went as kids and thus were keen to make a statement.
Noel Gallagher took to the stage with a one of a kind Epiphone Sheraton painted with a Union Jack. A powerful display of patriotism the crowd was absolutely heaving and the vibe was most certainly electric.
Gary Clark Jr. – Epiphone Casino
Crossroad Festival 2010
When Gary Clark Jr. first got the call up to play Eric Clapton‘s Crossroads Festival in 2010 he was relatively unknown. He got the call from Clapton as someone had pulled out and essentially had one shot to make an impact.
His performance of Bright Lights remains one of the most legendary modern blues performances. Armed with a crimson Epiphone Casino, Gary proved you don’t need a Strat to get in the pocket like Hendrix.
Ezra Koenig – Epiphone Sheraton II
Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend played a blistering Glastonbury set this year. Hailing from NYC the outfit steadily rose to prominence for their unique blend of indie-rock and art pop when their third studio album, Modern Vampires Of The City, won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 2013.
Koenig has been slinging an Epiphone Sheraton II throughout his whole career and it has become a signature part of his sound. Just watch the crowd going off at Glastonbury to the believe the power of these guitars.