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108 Rock Star Guitars

Photographer Lisa S. Johnson captures the story behind rock’s most iconic axes owned by Page, Beck, Gibbons, and others—with commentary from the guitarists themselves.


Ace Frehley: Modified Gibson Les Paul UFO Light Guitar

"I met Ace's tech backstage at Mandalay Bay, and he guided me through an obstacle course of road cases as the crew readied for what would be an epic show-Skid Row and Ted Nugent performing in support of Kiss. He had staked out a small room near the stage, to work on guitars in relative peace, and it was here, in a craftsman's special lair, that he showed me three of Ace's special axes and divulged their secrets. Ace frequently plays this Les Paul when Kiss performs 'New York Groove.' It was built by luthier/guitar tech extraordinaire Steve Carr. -Lisa S. Johnson, 108 Rock Star Guitars

About fifteen years ago, Lisa S. Johnson was working as a technical sales representative for Kodak. In order to gain a greater knowledge of Kodak's product line, she bought her own professional grade camera equipment and began shooting still images in her spare time. As fate would have it, one night she found herself at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York, the Monday night court of one, Les Paul. The always-gracious Paul allowed Johnson to photograph his guitars, which, unbeknownst to either of them, sent Johnson on a quest that would span years and send her far and wide in search of guitar players old and new.

The culmination of that journey is available now. 108 Rock Star Guitars is a 396-page, leather-bound behemoth brimming with beautiful, elegant images of some of the most iconic and recognized instruments the world has ever known. The subjects who allowed their most prized possessions to be photographed by Johnson reads like a veritable who's who of rock guitar royalty. More than that though, Johnson's work is threaded with personal stories detailing her own epic adventure to discover and celebrate these wondrous instruments. It wasn't always easy, but it came out looking oh, so good.