One of the things that is nearly inexplicable in our time is that there is a land war in Europe right now and although we have more access to information with more immediacy than the last time that happened to this extent and global consequence—back when Elizabeth II was still a princess—it seems as though that it something that we all once sort of knew about but which has been replaced in our infosphere by things of another sort. Most people probably know more about what’s happening in Mar-a-Lago than in Kharkiv. One is a continuation of the clown act that could have some devastating repercussions. The other is a place where, as I write this, the BBC reports: “On Saturday, the Russian-appointed head of Kharkiv region, Vitaly Ganchev, said his troops have started to evacuate civilians in Kupiansk and Izyum.” The Kharkiv region is Ukraine sovereign territory; the Russian-appointed head has absolutely no right to evacuate “civilians” from Ukraine–except that those “civilians” are undoubtedly members of the Russian army.
But there it is.
What’s more: Do we think that those people left homes, schools, stores, restaurants, infrastructure and the rest in anything but shambles?
While I have been critical—to say nothing of puzzled—of and about auctions of rock-and-roll-related memorabilia, from October 11 to November 11, 12 and 13 there will be an online auction taking place that is being organized by Gibson that is titled “Guitars for Peace.”
100% of the monies raised by Gibson Gives, the instrument company’s philanthropic arm, through this program will be donated to humanitarian undertakings for the people of Ukraine.
This auction goes far beyond someone being able to have something on display in their rec room. This auction matters. Matters as in life or death. Literally. Russian troops aren’t evacuating civilians in the Kharkiv region because they’re being nice.
Luthiers at Gibson have created four special Les Paul guitars that are painted with the azure blue and gold colors of the Ukrainian flag.
These guitars are being used by a wide array of touring musicians–Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Slash, Fher Olvera of Maná, Nile Rogers of Chic, Mark Knopfler, Lzzy Hale, Margo Price, Alex Lifeson, Blossoms, The Fratellis, Kasabian, Madness, Maisie Peters, Paloma Faith, The Charlatans, The Vaccines, Toyah, My Chemical Romance—and the instruments are accompanied by autograph books that the musicians sign (thereby not having the guitars covered with Sharpie ink).
About this undertaking, McCartney said, “I’m happy to auction this beautiful guitar of mine to benefit the fine people of Ukraine. Hopefully it will help them through this aggressive Russian invasion.” Given the last three words of that sentence, odds are there will never be another McCartney performance in Red Square.
Lzzy Hale said, echoing the sentiments of millions of people around the world, “It’s been heartbreaking to watch the innocent people of Ukraine in such turmoil.”
She added, “I’m so proud of my Gibson family for stepping up to provide a bit of hope to our fellow humans.”
Yes, those people in Ukraine who are fighting to defend their way of life are our fellow humans, something that is all too easy to forget.
While some people might be somewhat skeptical of a corporation giving money to what some people might think is a controversial cause (let’s face it: corporations tend to run like hell away from things like that), know that Gibson Gives is a 501(c)(3), and according to the IRS, “The organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, and no part of a section 501(c)(3) organization’s net earnings may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.” Simply, it is a charity.
Gibson, which was founded in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1902, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May 2018, reorganized and exited bankruptcy in November 2018. It re-launched Gibson Gives in 2019 and has raised over $3.5-million worldwide since.
The bidding will open online on October 11 on Julien’s Auctions. On November 11, 12 and 13 there will also be a live auction element at the Hard Rock New York.
As there is a recognition that most people probably will not be able to afford to get one of these instruments, Gibson has also created Guitars for Peace T-shirts, which can be ordered here. The funds from the sales of the shirts (and the guitars) will go to the Disaster Emergency Committee, a UK-based organization that brings together 15 aid charities that is committed to responding to people in crisis as quickly as possible.
Here’s a place where music and money can make a difference. For good.
Photo courtesy of Gibson.