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Images from the Everist Gallery
Firebird VII. Serial number 155910.
Ex coll.: Danny Chauncey of .38 Special
Purchase funds gift of family and friends in memory of
Lindsay William Smith (1954-1997), Edina, Minnesota, 1999.
Gibsonís Firebird series was introduced in 1963 to compete with Fender's instruments. While Gibson wanted something progressive-looking, they were still smarting from their experience with the Flying V and the Explorer, radical instruments that did not sell well in the late 1950s. The Firebird was designed by a consultant, Ray Dietrich, a car designer who worked for Chrysler from 1932 to 1938 and after that was a consultant for Kaiser, Packard, Ford, and others. The Firebird body ended up resembling the Explorer, but with more rounded corners. The pick guard featured the engraving of a firebird (phoenix), while the companion bass featured the thunderbird, playing up the Ford sports car connection (the GM Pontiac Firebird, however, came after the guitar, in 1967). The neck runs through the entire length of the body, with wings attached to form the distinctive outline, thereby saving wood. The Firebird VII was the top-of-the-line model with three gold-plated pickups, and was available in the understated sunburst seen on NMM 6760 or in more flamboyant metallic colors. The Firebird line was revamped in 1965, and the curves of the body were changed so that the projecting upper lobe was on the bass side of the neck (known to collectors as the "non-reverse" body), rather than the treble (the "reverse" body), where it had the tendency to pull the neck downward when played.
NMM 6760 was owned and used by Danny Chauncey and can be seen and heard in .38 Specialís music video, The Sound of Your Voice. Danny Chauncey, guitarist, keyboardist, songwriter, and producer, co-founded the California heavy metal group Billy Satellite in 1983. Chauncey later joined the prominent southern rock group, .38 Special (the groupís lead singer, Donnie Van Zant, is the younger brother of Lynyrd Skynyrdís singer/songwriter, Ronnie Van Zant, who was killed in a plane crash in 1977, along with two other Lynyrd Skynyrd band members.) Chauncey joined .38 Special in 1987, and can be heard on their albums Rock & Roll Strategy (1988), Bone Against Steel (1991), Resolution (1997), Live at Sturgis (1999), and A Wild-Eyed Christmas Night (2001).
Lit.: : .38 Special, The Sound of Your Voice. Directed by David Hogan. Charisma Records, 1991. Videocassette.
André P. Larson, "Major Guitar Exhibition Taken to Nebraska Museum," America's Shrine to Music Museum Newsletter Vol. 26, No. 3 (August 1999), p. 8.