Today is the 59th anniversary of Django Reinhardt's death. To honor him, I posted images of a guitar that I had Robert Armstrong paint for me years ago. The top features Django in heaven, the back has a street scene of Django and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France (The fifth member is using the pissoir on the right) and the sides show various scenes from Django's life. (Yes, he did have a pet monkey.) When I first asked him if he would paint this guitar for me he said no. This was back in 1996 when people were painting their electric guitars with heavy metal images like skulls and devils and that’s what he thought I was asking for. But when I said I had a Selmer copy I wanted decorated with scenes from Django’s life he said, “Well, why didn’t you say so?’” It took Armstrong and me a few months to decide on the basic visual elements (finding a photo of an authentic Parisian pissoir proved to be particularly challenging) and then it took him about a year to finish the painting. The guitar is playable and still sounds pretty good but I don’t like to pick it for fear of damaging the paint. The guitar proved to be something of an inspiration to Armstrong and he has since gone on to produce a line of painted ukuleles.
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