When Metallica were in England last fall, Kirk Hammett took some time to visit the gang at the UK's Guitar Interactive. In the clip above, Hammett chats with GI's Jonathan Graham while clutching his 1959 Les Paul, which—as any little schoolboy knows—was once owned by Fleetwood Mac's Peter Green and by his disciple, Gary Moore.
"We just got chatting about the guitar, and he just made someone go grab it," Graham said. "That's why I was so speechless; I couldn't believe that guitar was in front of me!"
Hammett even plays a bit of "Oh Well," a 1969 Green composition from Fleetwood Mac's Then Play On. You'll notice that the guitar is unplugged, but Hammett can't help but praise its tone.
"It sounds like the recording," Hammett says. "It's crazy. It has its tone already in it. You can plug this guitar into virtually any normal-sounding amp and you'll get a great sound—because it's all in here. There are some guitars that have the tone inside, but you have to bring it out, find the sweet spot... This guitar, you plug it in, and it's already there."
Of course, this reminds us of something Nigel Tufnel says in This Is Spinal Tap.
Shortly before he left Fleetwood Mac in 1970, Green loaned the guitar to Moore, who had been a fan of Green’s. Moore eventually bought the guitar at Green’s request—so that “it would have a good home,” Green said—for about $300, the same price Green paid for it.
Moore used it for much of his career, and it can be heard on “Parisienne Walkways,” his best-known song. Money problems forced him to sell the guitar in 2006 for between $750,000 and $1.2 million, according to differing reports.
It was purchased by Phil Winfield at Maverick Music and, reportedly, later put up for sale on the company's website for $2 million. Since then it has been owned by one or more private collectors before Hammett bought it in 2014 from Richard Henry Guitars.
When a fan asked Hammett via Twitter why he bought it, he replied, “The best tribute is that it’s being played again instead of being neglected by people who only bought it for the investment.”