Special feature article by Stuart Bunyan
It's 1962 and a miserable Saturday morning. Here I am queuing up outside a local record shop with my mates. Once inside, I notice, on the counter there is a huge pile of records and the woman behind the counter is dealing them out like cards.
When I get to the front of the queue, I have a copy of "Please Please Me" thrust at me, however that is not why I am here.
"Have you got Green Onions, by Booker T and the M.G's please?" I ask.
She looks at me in disbelief and trudges into the back of the shop to retrieve a copy.
The first time I heard this record, I fell in love with Steve Cropper's guitar playing and was desperately trying to wring that sound out of my Hofner V3, but to no avail. I had been playing guitar since the age of 13 and even though we churned out endless Chuck Berry and Little Richard covers, "Soul" music interested me more.
Some 6 years later, I had been drafted into a "Soul Band", and decided I had to have a Fender Telecaster. If we were to be like the Stax house band, then the Tele was the business. Trudging down Oxford Road in Manchester, with the Bass player and Organist, we went past a small music shop and there in the window was a second hand, solid-bodied, white guitar that I did not recognise.
It turned out to be an Epiphone of unknown origin and I decided to try it. It had twin cut-outs and 2 mini-humbuckers. It played like magic and at £65 appeared to be a steal. The other guys wanted me to go to another shop and buy a Tele, but I could not get the Epiphone out of my mind. The next day, I took another friend to have a look and get his opinion. He agreed with me that it was beautiful, played like a dream and had a fantastic sound.
The shop didn't know any details about it, model, name or history, but £55 pounds later it was mine. When I turned up at the first rehearsal with it, plugged into my Marshall 50 plexi combo, (aren't they worth a bit now?), it sounded dreadful. Full of bass and really muddy. I then realised why I had to use a treble booster with the V3, it wasn't a good example of a Marshall, (sorry Jim). When I introduced the treble booster it was fabulous. Superb action, knock out sound and although not like "Steve", the lads were dead impressed.
I was still bugged by the fact that I didn't know what it was, however, we used to hang about at Barratt's, a large music store in Manchester and one of the staff there agreed to do some searching. Turns out it was an Epiphone "Crestwood" and one of 60 brought into the UK, direct from a German trade fare. Even they hadn't seen another example of it and it was a useful talking point when meeting up with other guitarists. I gigged with that guitar for years until the inevitable. Marriage, kids and the most stupid mistake of my life. I sold the Epi. I had decided that if I still had the kit, I would end up constantly travelling from one end of the country to the other enjoying myself. Not allowed when you have just got married. It hurt like hell turning the guitar into the deposit for a house, especially when a month or so after the sale, Amen Corner were on "Top of the Pops" and the guitarist had, you've guessed it a white Crestwood. I don't know if it was mine, but if not it was the only other seen in captivity.
(Comment from Paul - great possibility it was. Prior to fame, Amen Corner's Andy Fairweather Lowe worked at Barratts in Cardiff and would still have had links)
Even though I kept a jumbo when giving the group up, I missed the Crestwood like mad. My sons bought me an Epiphone Nighthawk for my 50th birthday, which is beautiful, but cannot compare to the Crestwood. I have found some other Crestwood owners in the US, via the Epiphone web-site and they are of a similar opinion to me.
A fabulous guitar that they would not part with, trouble is, I did!