A Richard’s Tale

A child of the 1950’s, I had a firsthand look at the history of popular music as it related to guitar. My first memories are of my mom and dad dancing around the living room to Elvis records, and my brother and I sang the harmonies of the popular songs on the radio. My mom really loved to sing around the house, and I guess I was just blessed with having a “good ear,” without training. My dad was transferred a number of times for work when I was young, with stops in New York, Texas, Massachusetts and Ohio during the early sixties, and we finally moved to Northern California in ’63.

When the Beatles came out, everything changed. I learned and sang all the lyrics and harmonies… but it wasn’t until I was 10 or so that I got my first guitar. It was one of those things your parents do for you that was so mind blowing and unexpected. It was just right, but it was a false start. Without any training, it was unplayable.

By the time I was 15 I’d gotten my first jobs selling shoes and running a paper route, and I saw my first concert, Jimi Hendrix, and it was life changing. Soon after, I saw the Rolling Stones and BB King, and I was hooked. It was not long after that I attended Rock Fest. The first real time I played the guitar was on the 8 hour trip home, and it was December 6, 1969. I begged the owner of the guitar to borrow it for a couple of weeks, and before long I was able to get a Gibson SG and a Fender Twin Reverb amplifier. I later traded up to a blush Gibson Les Paul and became a regular member of my first garage band that included lots of friends.

It was after seeing a Led Zeppelin concert that I knew I had to have a Sunburst Les Paul like Jimmy Page (pictured at right). At that time, if you could find one, it was going to run you around $1000.00. However, the one I found was and is the prettiest one I have ever seen. I paid $1750.00 for it, and it was big money for me at the time. After owning and playing it for five years, I sold it through a dealer to Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac (that guitar now, according to Vintage Guitar Price Guide would be worth an estimated $380,000.00 today!!). Some pictures of this beauty recently were found and sent to me 40 years later.

I’ve played with countless bands of many styles, and done thousands of gigs as a lead guitarist and singer. I have recorded a number of “indie” records on both acoustic and electric guitar, and written many songs. Out of necessity and enjoyment both, as a journeyman guitarist of fifty years, I’ve learned to do guitar repairs, setups, modifications, and new builds for myself along the way, and for the last ten years I have been doing all that for others, as well, on both electric and acoustic guitars (as of 2019 I am building guitars under the name “Love Guitars”). 

Through the years, I have never lost my fascination with the guitar and music, and that love continues whether playing, teaching, repairing, adjusting, buying or building, and I hope that in some way I can help you with your own guitar endeavors.

Rick Lilley, with '59 LP
Rick Lilley, summer gig
Rick's first Les Paul