The striking purple guitar said to be the last one ever used by Prince had very modest beginnings – in a workshop in Sussex.
Independent guitar maker Simon Farmer reckons his purple and gold ‘axe’ could be the last one ever bought by the Purple Rain singer – who used it at one of his final concerts.
Simon, who has built guitars since he was 14, and made his first designs of Prince‘s purple guitar back in 1994, but finally sent it to the rocker at the start of March this year.
Simon, who made the entire guitar himself from designs to finished product, said the star’s untimely death was “hugely shocking”.
The 47-year-old runs his one-man business Gus Guitars from a small workshop in Heathfield, east Sussex, and said he always thought it would be the sort of guitar that Prince would like to play.
He said: “I decided to follow it up because I knew someone who used to work for Prince in the Purple Rain days.
“I came up with a theme for a practical model with purple paint and gold plating and I knew he would really like it.”
The ambitious guitar-maker tried to get the guitar, made from cedar and carbon fibre, to Prince in 2007 when he was in the UK doing his Earth Tour but it didn’t work out.
Simon did, however, get a lot of exposure – and the instrument became known as the guitar that Prince didn’t quite get.
But then, out of the blue, Prince‘s management got in contact with Simon in February this year.
He said: “We started talking about it, they said Prince wanted it, and it arrived with them on the 8th March.
“I got good feedback on it and Prince even ordered a black and gold bass too, which I was going to make for him.”
Sadly, shortly after Simon began building the bass, the musician died – but not before he’d had a chance to show off his purple guitar to his fans.
Simon said: “He made a surprise appearance at an event to show off his new piano and my guitar.
“He didn’t play it but he took it out of the case and showed it to everyone – it was just amazing.
“It was a massive thing and a huge break for me, I made sure the guitar was right for him, when I made it that was all I was thinking about.”
Having not only had the singer buy his guitar, but also request a bass from him too, made Prince‘s death all the more sad for Simon.
He said: “It was really shocking to hear he had died, especially as it was so unexpected – he obviously had plans for future concerts.
“I have always loved his music and really loved his guitar playing.
“He was a really underrated guitarist because he can do so many other things – he did absolutely everything.
“It is a massive loss and very sad.”
Simon has no immediate plans to design guitars for more stars, but Prince wasn’t the first celebrity to buy his models, with past clients including Seal.
He said: “It is always your dream to get guitars to famous people but at the end of the day it is the players that come to you if they like what you make.
“There is something about that purple guitar that Prince really liked, he always used guitars that were far from the mainstream.
“In this business there is a lot of stuff where money changes hands and it is all about endorsements, none of it is ‘real’.
“This is why the guitar for Prince was so special – he chose it.”